Hezbollah Regime Change
Live From the Middle East:
BEIRUT, Lebanon -- It was clear something big was about to break in the war on terror. In the weeks before "the world's most wanted terrorist," Hezbollah's Imad Mughniyeh, was assassinated, half a dozen telecommunications cables had been severed to countries throughout the Middle East. Or sabotaged, as the U.N. suggested.
Similar types of communications interception often precede the launch of surprise military operations as a way to stop information leaks.Telecommunications to all countries in the region had been affected except America's main allies, Israel and Iraq. For a short period, Hezbollah's main sponsor, Iran, was completely blacked out. Then a few days before Mughniyeh's killing, America sent anti-missile warships to the Israeli port of Haifa. Soon Patriot missiles that could knock out Hezbollah's incoming Katushya rockets were being deployed across northern Galilee. If Hezbollah retaliated for Mugniyah's death, the U.S. and Israel were ready.
In Lebanon, America's primary spokesman, Walid Jumblatt, had escalated the war threats against Hezbollah: "If you think we are going to sit with our hands tied, then perhaps we have to burn everything. If you want chaos -- then we welcome chaos. If you want war -- then we welcome war. We have no problem with weapons or with rockets which we will launch on you!"
According to former Mossad officer Victor Ostrovsky, Jumblatt had been employed by the Mossad going back to the Lebanese civil war, and so his words held weight. In past months, Jumblatt had often condemned Mugniyah, and had even gone so far as to call for car bombings against Damascus.
On the night Israel and America car-bombed Imad Mugniyah in Damascus, the Hezbollah-dominated neighborhood Mugniyah
grew up in was hit by an earthquake, and the shock waves shook deep into Israel. Rumors swirled that the demise of Mugniyah,
like Saddam Hussein's Iraq, commemorated Purim, the Jewish triumphal feast wherein Israel's enemies "meet
The Jerusalem Post suggested something a bit more mundane: Mugniyah's killing was to prevent planned Hezbollah retaliations
after Israel's 2007 bombing of an alleged nuclear site in Deir Ez Zor, Syria by the IDF.
But Mugniyah had been in the crosshairs long before the recent
IDF strike on Syria. The Mossad said his death "took years of planning." America's CIA had also been pursuing him
as the mastermind of Hezbollah's military wing for decades. In 2002 they put a $25 million dollar price tag on his life. America
held Mugniyah responsible for terrorist acts committed against France, Israel and the U.S., during the height of the Israeli
occupation of Lebanon in the 1980's and early 90's. Inside Hezbollah Leader
Imad Mugniyah's Funeral
Working doubly for Hezbollah and Islamic
Jihad, Mughniyeh was wanted for the kidnapping, torture and death of U.S. government figures such as CIA station chief William
Buckley, Lt. Col. William Richard Higgins, and the hijacking of a TWA flight in which a U.S. Marine was shot.
Mughniyeh's invisibility and elusiveness
were legendary. He never gave interviews or photo ops, and the one picture circulated of him was sometimes thought to have
been of someone else altogether. Press reports claimed Mughniyeh had even had plastic surgery to disguise his facial features.
But Fisk thought that Mughniyeh could not have committed all the acts attributed to him. "Some of the operations, he was too young to have had the expertise to carry out. He was only 19 or 20 at the time. Others -- like being two places at once -- were a physical impossibility."
Ironically, Fisk's assessment would likely be an unwelcome downgrade of Mughniyeh's "accomplishments" to the Shias who turned out for his funeral in south Beirut this week. Despite sheets of rain, tens of thousands stood outdoors for hours to hear Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah eulogize "the life, work and sacrifice of Martyr Hajj Radwan."
Afterwards, they marched unbowed by rain or mud through an impoverished neighborhood still smashed by the Israeli war of 2006. Flashes of sporadic gunfire erupted in spontaneous tribute to Mughniyeh. Women threw rice on the passing casket from balconies high above the street for "Groom Mughniyeh" who died a martyr, and who was now being wedded in Paradise to 72 virgins.
One mourner proudly pointed out to me a wide, empty gash in the ground. "That used to be an apartment over there. When Hezbollah caught dozens of Arab spies
At one of the memorial services, I asked Mughniyeh's
oldest daughter Fatima about the ethics of killing 271 U.S. Marines in their sleep. "America was invading our country,
like Israel... my father's duty was to defend Lebanon," she said. "Now they've killed my dad. But I and my husband
and my brothers and my father's students will carry on to victory."
Muslim's Weekly by Trish Schuh 7/17/2006
An American AUB professor in Beirut, Dr. Judith Harik, told me that
Al Manar often features video not seen elsewhere. "Many people here tune into Al Manar whether they are Christian, Druse,
Sunnis or what, because Al Manar has very good reporting. Their analysis is very precise and very well thought out. They're
very shrewd, forthright and are taken very seriously."
It named Wafa Hoteit as a Chief of Al Noor Radio (also recently bombed), and promoted 37-year old Rima Fakhry to its highest ruling body, the Hezbollah Political Council. Part of Fakhry's duties include interpreting Islamic feminism in Sharia law for the Committee for Political Analysis.
I asked Sheikh Khoury if Sharia law liberated women to be recruited in the military or as 'suicide bombers'? "Not now. We don't need it at the present. If we need it in future we would." But the staff at Al Manar has no combat function. These sisters, daughters and mothers in the mujahedin shoot film, not bullets.
It was an issue I also raised with Al Manar film editor, Farah Noor Eddine, 30. Eddine has a B.A. in Journalism. She emphasized that she has relatives in the US and likes Americans. "Being Hezbollah doesn't mean that you are a military woman or a military creature. Hezbollah, the 'Party of God' is mentioned in the Quran. It's a way of thinking or acting. We are ordinary persons." She is a vegetarian, plays ping pong, but has never fired a gun or seen a 'suicide vest.'
With Israel attacking Beirut, "Radical Islamic Terrorists" are again the demons of US media sensationalism. It was a charge that exasperated Health News anchor Mariam Karnib, so I asked her to define terrorism. "It is using excessive force or violence in a way that is not justified. They are calling us terrorist, but I know I am not like this. I was brought up here. We know our rights. We are not fools."
Ms. Karnib, 29 has a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Social Science and is now earning a Masters in the Sociology of Communication.
I asked her if Hezbollah women are familiar with the notorious Saudi website, Al Khansaa that trains female jihadis. She was not aware of it, she said, and when off-duty preferred happier fare. "I love Danielle Steele, Barbara Cartland and Barbara Taylor."
Al Manar TV has been boycotted for inciting violence and suicide attacks against Israel in its MTV-inspired videos, and "Death to America" is a signature slogan. Ms. Karnib dismissed the idea that Al Manar clips were powerful enough to produce this result, and felt sloganeering could not be taken seriously. The most effective training for 'militants' was American cartoons, she explained, which "are filled with alot more violence, terrorism and hatred- and they are aimed specifically at impressionable children." She also criticized video games which promote brutal killings of 'Arab Terrorists' and 'Muslim fanatics'.
In the game of dueling propaganda, Hezbollah has met its match. Israel's media features extermination, liquidation and elimination as frequent themes, especially regarding the Palestinians: "those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. So if we want to remain alive we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day. Every day." Jerusalem Post, 5/21/04
More recently, the Chairman of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party, Avigdor Lieberman called for Arab Knesset members to be executed. Israel Koenig (from Israel's Al Hamishmar newspaper): "We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population."
According to the The NY Sun, the crusade against Al Manar TV originated with Israel's Natan Sharansky and former Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. The Israeli Defense Forces' Arab Media desk decided its propaganda leafletting of targeted areas prior to bombing them was inadequate. "Israel must concentrate on Arab media."
The bicoastal Herzliya-DC Neocon state within a state has orchestrated its series of "Clean Break" Arab wars via the US-Israeli military/media complex, where the Fourth Estate doubles as a Fifth Column.
On the US side, Israeli Avi Jorisch wrote a book on Al Manar TV called "Beacon of Hatred" for AIPAC's Washington Institute for Near East Policy. It was endorsed by Dennis Ross and used to pressure Congress and the Pentagon (which had not previously known of the station) to censor Al Manar. The coalition also pressured commerical advertisers to boycott LMGr.
Anti-Defamation League, CAMERA.org, American Jewish Congress and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies also allied with AIPAC against Al Manar worldwide. The neocon Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) took credit for persuading world leaders in Germany, Sweden, Australia and France to outlaw Al Manar. The Netherlands and the EU followed suit, and Spain was coerced into removing Al Manar from Latin American programming. MEMRI has recently announced a new front: France has just agreed to silence Iran's Al Sahar TV.
Such success has emboldened an expanding wish-list of opposition media "soon to be banned." Like a press version of Daniel Pipe's "Campus Watch", Israel's Foreign Ministry, the IDF and its US surrogates are blacklisting a number of Arab media- Palestinian TV, Egyptian televsion, Saudi Arabia's Al Majd and ART TV, and Iran's Al Alam. Bombings in Iraq of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya are well known, and now Al Manar's facilities have been completely flattened. Both the Committee to Protect Journalists and Repoters Without Borders condemned the attacks.
The US State Department's Counter-Misinformation Office is another tool used to monitor international Arab media. It tracks image offenses against Israel under the Global Anti-Semitism Awareness Act passed by Congress to track anti-Jewish hate speech worldwide. Todd Leventhal, whose propaganda pedigree includes the Pentagon, NSA and the Information Operations Task Force (renamed after the Office of Strategic Influence closed) allegedly did similar Israeli protection work for the Voice of America.
In 2005, the Israeli Knesset passed the Global Holocaust-Deniers Bill that criminalizes questions and free speech concerning the Holocaust. It creates a criminal category for Holocaust questioners and even allows Israel to extradite 'Holocaust Deniers' worldwide for prosecution. The law has no statute of limitations. Al Manar TV's dispute of the Holocaust was one reason for it being declared a terrorist organization, according to US government sources.
According to Israeli media, Israel's Embassy in the USA refers to US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton as "Israel's sixth Ambassador". At Bolton's behest and with Israel's string pulling, on September 14, 2005, the United Nations passed Resolution 1624. According to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Res. 1624 designated Al Manar a terrorist entity. As a followup to UN Resolution 1624, the UN Secretary General distributed a proposal in closed session for a "code of ethics" for journalists to fight the war on terror in 2006. It would ban interviews with 'terrorists' and press reports "that generate sympathy for terrorist causes." Terrorism, still undefined by the UN Counterterror Commission seems to equal those who defy the western agenda. The issue of state-backed terror is carefully avoided.
On July 16, 2006 I spoke with Al Manar TV editor Ibrahim Moussawi in Beirut. With explosions in the background, he denied American media reports of a hundred Iranian Revolutionary Guards helping Hezbollah in the south. "Lies- all lies. Israeli propaganda! Why do you believe this? We have enough of our own Lebanese to fight. We don't need Iran to win!" Al Manar writer/producer Fatima Berri's words on the Islamophobic propaganda constantly leveled at Hezbollah- and Arabs in general- said: "It is untrue information. To use lies, make up information to use against you to adjust to their policy."
Now the policy has come home. English-language outlet Indymedia which often bucks established opinion, defends Palestinians and challenges the Fifth Column media has just been sanctioned for its article comparing factually documented statistics of varying estimates of Holocaust victims in World War ll. Indymedia has never advocated or used violence against any party but in March 2006 Indymedia, like Al Manar TV, was put on the "Terrorist Watch List."
Jan 16, 2014 Hizbollah members Salim Ayyash, Mustafa Badredine, Hussein Onessi and Assad Sabra on trial for the assassination of former PM Rafiq Hariri in The Hague
HEZBOLLAH HANGS TOUGH
Hezbollah is a Syrian-Iranian sponsored political/resistance party that began over 20 years ago to fight the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Accused of bombing the U.S. embassy and the American marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, Hezbollah has long been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. Since the end of the Lebanese civil war in 1990, Hezbollah has operated extensive social service networks including schools, hospitals and community centers throughout Lebanon. It also holds 12 seats in parliament.
After mass demonstrations on March 8 of 500,000 Lebanese, the Lebanese government pushed for the reinstatement of pro-Syrian prime minister Omar Karameh who resigned last week. Targeted by neoconservatives in Washington and Tel Aviv, Hezbollah could determine if Lebanon remains at peace or lapses into civil war.
Interview: Hussein Naboulsi
Q: Did Hezbollah assassinate Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri or have anything to do with his death?
A: Rafiq Hariri was one of our most important national figures. He saved Lebanon in many ways. He got us on our feet. He supported the resistance and worked against Resolution 1559. He believed in our right to liberate Lebanon. And he supported Hezbollah to the international community.
Q: Who killed him then? Was it Syria?
A: There is a UN international investigation now that will gather the evidence and determine who committed this crime. In one month we'll have the answers and we'll know.
Q: In the Arab press the US or Israel are accused of killing him?
A: We know this: those behind it were the enemies of the Lebanese. It is an attempt to destabilize the country and damage our interests. Assess who has benefited most from his death to push forward their policies. There may be your answer.
Q: What will happen to Hezbollah if Syria leaves in compliance with UN Resolution 1559?
A: Hezbollah is Lebanese and supported by the Lebanese. We are not an outside party from Sri Lanka, Hong Kong or foreign shores. Our members come from our own farms and villages and cities. We have support from many Arab partners. We are democratically elected.
Q: But Syria and Iran are 'foreign'?
A: We are proud to be associated with them. Without their help, we would not have been able to liberate Lebanon from occupation.
Q: Do you see demands to disband Hezbollah as a prelude to an attack on your ally Iran?
A: America is already stuck in one quagmire, Iraq...
Q: What if the EU stops supporting you or designates you a "terrorist entity"?
A: Chirac and the Europeans know who we are and that we have a right to exist under the UN Charter.
Q: We have been seeing many demonstrations against Syria-usually estimated at 25,000 or more. Is this accurate?
A: Up to now, they have been around 5,000 to 10,000 strong.
Q: Do you think American intervention is behind any of it?
A: No- no we cannot know this and we must be objective. Those against Syria are not our enemies. They are Lebanese and they have every right to speak out. That is democracy. But they don't represent all of Lebanon. But there are others with different opinions. They are afraid of our huge numbers. We are not against The Opposition. We are for a Syrian presence. We are not trying to provoke any conflicts that will lead to violence. If we really care about Lebanon, we must all be peaceful and respectful, for the good of the country.
Q: If the Lebanese government itself orders you to disband, will you?
A: We are not just a militia. We must make that decision when it happens. Before then, I can not comment.
Hezbollah, Next American Target
A: This is only media talking.
Q: Actually, no one in the media is
saying this. When I bring it up, the idea is dismissed as an absurd conspiracy theory...
A: I cannot comment on something unofficial.
Q: It seems they are laying the groundwork for an eventual attack. One US official even called Hezbollah the "A Team of Terror". Bush is using the same language. He's official.
A: President Bush has no right to qualify countries, groups or political organizations as
terrorists. President Bush represents the head of terrorism in the world. First of all because he supports the
Zionist entity on a security and military level. This entity that kills civilians of all ages and destroys their homes.
And Bush is the one squeezing Iraq with sanctions. Because of these sanctions Iraqi children are dying
and they have no medicine or food. Bush came to
Q: So you don't believe we should fight the "War on Terror" or defend ourselves?
A: Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, Bush wants to dominate the world and exploit the resources of the world.
Q: Was 9/11 terrorism?
A: We were among the first to condemn 911 as a criminal act. But there is no agreed upon definition of terrorism. Till now America refuses to define terrorism. Because if there is a perception of terrorism established, we can point to which are terrorist acts and which are not. Bush refuses to define terorism so he can use it as a pretext to commit terrorism. We at Hezbollah want all nations to get together to set up principles defining terrorism.
Q: Is Osama Bin Laden a terrorist?
In our ethics, we believe human beings have dignity so that one can live with honor and be provided with the necessities to
exist in that condition. We believe killing those innocent civilians is a forbidden act against our beliefs and
Q: What is your relationship to Palestine?
Palestinians used to live on their land with the Jewish people- there was no problem. Britain and America
Q: Hezbollah condemned Arafat as a criminal for signing the Oslo Accords. What leader would you approve?
A: We don't interfere in their affairs. This matter is up to the Palestinians.
Q: Hezbollah doctrine is vehement about supporting the right of "oppressed peoples." Does that include Jews under the Nazis?
A: The Holocaust is an historic lie. A French student wrote a paper on the subject saying it was a skewing of facts and so the Jewish Lobby got him expelled. The number of killed were over estimated.
Q: Israel is a firmly established state that will not vacate its territory. So what is a realistic solution for this area?
A: The occupiers must stop the occupation. They must leave the land.
Q: What if that does not happen?
A: Israel doesn't want peace. Sharon won't leave the settlements. If he wanted
to withdraw to 1967 lines, he would do it. According to repeated UN Resolutions, he should completely leave Lebanon
(Shebaa Farms). Only Hezbollah resistance forced him to- and the Palestinian resistance will force him to
Q: Do Arabs hate Jews and Israel? Would Hezbollah ever work with Jewish or Israeli organizations who advocate a Palestinian State?
Hezbollah hates oppression, occupation and racism. We hate aggression and corruption. All of these
Q: So you would work with a group who were Jewish, but anti-Zionist?
A: No problem with that. Any group against these bad characteristics-we accept.
Q: So you are not against the Jewish religion?
A: No. Muslims are 'People of the Book', which began with Judaism.
Q: Its feared the Middle East crisis could lead to World War III. Is this just an exaggeration?
A: Short term no. But long range it is very possible.
Q: The US has declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Could you comment?
A: What others say about us must be backed by evidence. Many western journalists have said many things about us that are not true. They have portrayed us as if we are not human beings, as if we haven't feelings, imagination, love for life or family. We want to live in peace. We have children and friends and we like to live well. But the Israeli occupation that was in our area pushes us to resist because no one else in the world came to help us or forced the Israelis to withdraw.
Q: How did Hezbollah start in the early 1980's?
When the Israelis occupied our land and marched to Beirut, the UN and the whole world watched our cities burn, our
farms and villages being destroyed, our children, old and young men killed. No one told Israel to leave or stop. We waited
nearly one year. Then we saw they weren't going to leave. As Muslims, we believe life without dignity, life without freedom
and independence doesn't mean anything to us. So we struggled to live as we like and push the occupiers off our land. Our
Q: But when Israel first entered Lebanon, they were welcomed by the Lebanese themselves.
A: They were a relief from the prior occupiers, until they became occupiers themselves.
Q: Were you behind the violent kidnappings in the 1980's?
A: No. More than once Hezbollah leaders have denied this. Beirut was filled with many groups. Some with Islamic names were hostage takers. From the beginning, Hezbollah was not responsible and there has never been any evidence that they were.
Q: What about your relations to Christians?
A: Many claimed Hezbollah killed Christians. Go to the south of Lebanon and see how the Christians were defended by Hezbollah. Go to them and ask them directly.
Q: Were you responsible for the bombing of the US marine barracks in 1983?
A: No. We were not involved.
Q: But news services got claims of credit from a group called 'Hezbollah'.
A: At the time, we didn't operate in Beirut. We weren't involved in the Civil War. Our mission was the resistance in the south.
Q: In January 2002, Israel
and America allegedly caught Iran shipping missiles to Arafat for use against Israel?
Q: Are you connected to Saudi or Turkish Hezbollah, for example?
A: No. We are Lebanese only. We are not responsible for other groups. There are many Islamic groups and most are not related. Hezbollah differs from most others. We have 12 members in the democratically elected parliament. We have good relations with the government and army. We have women in high positions.
A US senator has compared Hezbollah to Saddam Hussein. Were you also supported by the CIA like Saddam?
Q: Have you used gas against your own citizens like he did?
A: Absolutely not.
Q: Did you ever behead anybody?
A: No. That is haraam- for all-Christians, Muslims, and Jewish.
Q: What about Ariel Sharon?
A: No. No we could only take him as a prisoner. Our enemy has the right to fight us and we have the right to fight them. We have many rules in war. There are many limits. One, that they are human beings with rights. For 1400 years, even before the Geneva Conventions, Islam said an enemy still has humanity.
Q: What do you think of Osama bin Laden?
A: We don't accept him as an Islamic leader. He has harmed the perception of Islam in the world and damaged the reputation of our religion.
Q: How do water resources figure in your fight with Israel?
A: The Israelis want to tap our rivers. The Litani and Wazzani are ours. One of them originates completely in Lebanon and we are forbidden to use it. We aren't allowed to give our own water to our own people.
Q: Do you have terror cells inside the US?
A: We do not have groups outside of Lebanon, we are Lebanese.
Q: If a peace deal is signed with Israel, would Hezbollah disband?
A: These are issues that must be decided by the Lebanese government and we would follow that.
Q: Are you growing drugs in the Bekaa Valley?
A: Drugs are haraam in Islam. We helped clear the area of drugs- with the help of Syria.
Q: The USA is trying to get Syria out of Lebanon. What will you do then?
A: Fifteen years ago it was the US that approved Syrian deployment in Lebanon. Now Resolution 1559 is trying to take advantage of the situation in Iraq to have us expelled.
Q: Israel has said you would use Iranian nuclear weapons against them via Iran?
A: That is not true. Israel makes many accusations against us like this.
Q: In May 2004, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution to attack Iran...
America has enough troubles in Iraq. Change in the world must not come from military aggression. Iran is very different
from Iraq. Millions in Iran will defend the country if under attack. America would make a big mistake to attack.