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Who Is Hezbollah?

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Who Is Hezbollah?
By John E. Carey

FOX News Channel reporter Shepard Smith, interviewing an Israeli soldier on the border between Israel and Lebanon today (at about 1915 GMT) heard the soldier, who had recently been engage with Hezbollah fighters say, "They are an army. They are not a terror group."

Hezbollah, throughout its history, has defined itself. Previous definitions such as "terror group" hardly apply, as the Israeli soldier noticed today.

Hezbollah's leaders distance themselves from the word terrorist. They call themselves a resistance movement and they are proud of their operations against Israel from Lebanon.

The leaders of Hezbollah view Israel as an illegal government that took land away from the people of Palestine and have no right to live in the Middle East. Hezbollah wants the Israelis to "go back where they came from"

Everyone who comes into contact with Hezbollah's members and their leaders has the same reaction: each man is tremendously dedicated.

On October 20 2000, ABC News' Ted Koppel interviewed Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah who made these observations:

"This state [Israel] was established on the basis of occupation....If you want my opinion, I say that this is a state based on occupation, that has usurped the rights of others. We don't want to talk about dismantling the state. We want to talk about-we prefer to talk about returning the land to people whose right it is- What is clear that I-is that I don't believe in the State of Israel as a legal state because it was founded on occupation."

"Would you allow a people to come from somewhere else and occupy a part of the United States, and set up an independent state, and, after 50 years, you would not be able to stay on this land? The initial point is it permissible for them to come and occupy this land or not? What is illegal cannot be legal just because it has been 50 years. Occupation remains occupation, even if it's for hundreds of years."

"Israel remains a foreign body in this large area, and it always proved that it is unable to coexist with this environment, because the, the scope of the massacres that it has committed does not permit it to coexist. Over the last 50 years, the State of Israel has proved that it is an expansionist state, and wants to dominate the region, and it is not convinced of what it has already. It always intervenes in the affairs of the other countries in this region, as it happened in Lebanon."

"You can look at the West Bank. Cities are like prisons. They can be closed quickly by the Israeli forces, and everything stops in these cities. This is the result of Oslo. So what Arafat and the Israelis agree on can affect the course of events. The Sharm el-Sheikh summit did not produce an agreement. It was a failure. They brought them together just to tell them-stop fighting. The Palestinian must stop throwing stones, and the Israelis must stop firing rockets. And in the view of the Sharm el-Sheikh summit, rockets are equal to stones."

Ever defiant, Hassan Nasrallah appeared on al-Jazeera TV on July 20, saying, "We have not been harmed."

He also said Hezbollah will never be forced to release two Israeli soldiers it has captured

And he warned that a Hezbollah defeat would mark "a defeat for the entire Islamic nation."

On April 17, 2002, in an exclusive interview, Dan Rather of CBS News interviewed speaks Hezbollah's deputy secretary general, Naim Qassem, about how for more than 20 years, Lebanon-based Hezbollah has waged terrorist war on Israel, and killed hundreds of Americans as well.

Said Naim Qassem, "We have never been a terrorist organization. We consider ourselves a resistance movement against occupation. Israel is the terrorist because they are killing children, women and old people. And the United States too is a terrorist insofar as it supports Israel."
On July 20, Hussein Naboulsi, Hezbollah's chief spokesman, led foreign reporters through the twisted wreckage of a Beirut suburb that had been, just last weeks, both the seat of government of Hezbollah and a residential area for ordinary Lebanese. Naboulsi said no Hezbollah members had been harmed and that the target was the construction site for a mosque. He said all of the damage was caused by Israeli aggression.
Naboulsi shrugged off the idea that Hezbollah was losing support. He said the bombings had empowered the group and that they showed the "cowardly" face of the Israeli's who struck at a completely civilian target.
"If they think they can block our way or we will run out of rockets, they're wrong," Naboulsi said.
The big questions are: Does Hezbollah have weapons of mass destruction? Do they have ballistic missiles to deliver them? And just how far will Hezbollah go?

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John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.
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