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The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God

Matthew Levitt

Publication Year: 2013

Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God is the first thorough examination of Hezbollah's covert activities beyond Lebanon's borders, including its financial and logistical support networks and its criminal and terrorist operations worldwide.

Hezbollah -- Lebanon's "Party of God" -- is a multifaceted organization: It is a powerful political party in Lebanon, a Shia Islam religious and social movement, Lebanon's largest militia, a close ally of Iran, and a terrorist organization. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including recently declassified government documents, court records, and personal interviews with intelligence and law enforcement officials around the world, Matthew Levitt examines Hezbollah's beginnings, its first violent forays in Lebanon, and then its terrorist activities and criminal enterprises abroad in Europe, the Middle East, South America, Southeast Asia, Africa, and finally in North America. Levitt also describes Hezbollah's unit dedicated to supporting Palestinian militant groups and Hezbollah's involvement in training and supporting insurgents who fought US troops in post-Saddam Iraq. The book concludes with a look at Hezbollah's integral, ongoing role in Iran's shadow war with Israel and the West, including plots targeting civilians around the world.

Levitt shows convincingly that Hezbollah's willingness to use violence at home and abroad, its global reach, and its proxy-patron relationship with the Iranian regime should be of serious concern. Hezbollah is an important book for scholars, policymakers, students, and the general public interested in international security, terrorism, international criminal organizations, and Middle East studies.

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-9


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

THIS BOOK IS THE PRODUCT of a decade of research and writing, based on interviews with officials and experts from five continents, declassified intelligence reports, court documents, and much more. Some people spoke on the record, but more spoke on background or not for attribution, either because they still work in government or because they feared putting at risk their future access to people in...

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Introduction: Researching Hezbollah’s Clandestine Activities

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pp. xiii-xvi

IN MAY 2003 I PARTICIPATED in a conference for current and former US law enforcement and intelligence personnel on Lebanon. Sponsored by the US government and featuring speakers from the United States and Lebanon, each of the conference panels was chaired by a US official. Strikingly, when participants on several panels insinuated that Hezbollah had never engaged in an act of terrorism or that...

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1. The Party of God Is Born

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pp. 1-21

FOR A WHILE, the two Hezbollah operatives sat in their car, scoping out the Israeli embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan. Concentrating on their stakeout, the operatives were unaware that police were watching them watch the building. When the operatives finally realized they were under surveillance, they pulled into traffic, but not quite quickly enough, and were caught fleeing the scene. Police inspected their car, where...

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2. Branching Out: Targeting Westerners in Lebanon and Beyond

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pp. 22-48

BEIRUT, A CITY BATTERED BY WAR, was experiencing a period of relative calm in fall 1983. US diplomats and soldiers were still coming to terms with the suicide bombing that struck the US embassy in April, and US Marines wore their combat uniforms everywhere they went—even to social events and diplomatic functions. But to the US Marine commander on site, the threat environment seemed to have...

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3. Hezbollah’s European Debut

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pp. 49-74

“WE’VE GOT A HIJACK,” flight engineer Christian Zimmermann told the captain, John Testrake, as he reached for the cockpit fire ax by the bulkhead door. Who knew what weapons the hijackers had, or what weapons the crew might be able to use? Either way, Zimmermann thought, better to hide the ax. TWA flight 847 had just taken off from Athens on a short flight to Rome, with continuing service to the...

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4. Bombings in Buenos Aires

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pp. 75-116

IT WAS AROUND 9:45 AM ON JULY 18, 1994, and Monica Lucía Arnaudo was in her bedroom, which looked out onto Pasteur Street. As she watched television, Monica heard a car outside speed up and then slam on the brakes. “The tires creaked,” she would later recall, “and then [there was] a sort of a crash or collision.” She sat upright in bed, just in time to hear a tremendous explosion and feel “something like...

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5. A Near Miss in Bangkok

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pp. 117-145

AS HE NAVIGATED his motorcycle taxi through Bangkok’s notoriously congested streets, Boonserm Saendi likely had his eye out for oncoming traffic. It was about 9 am on March 11, 1994, and rush hour was at its peak. Saendi drove a passenger to the Chidlom branch of the Central Department Store in the Lumpini neighborhood of the city’s Patumwan district. Saendi was parked at an entry-exit zone when...

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6. Beirut to the Blue Ridge: Hezbollah Comes to North America

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pp. 146-180

ONE OF HEZBOLLAH’S first American recruits was a Vietnam veteran and convert to Islam who first fought for Amal and then, as Amal lost political ground and members to Hezbollah, trained Hezbollah operatives. He reportedly served as a bodyguard for Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah (a trusted position once occupied by Imad Mughniyeh) and by 1996 would be described by then–defense secretary...

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7. Bombing Khobar Towers

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pp. 181-207

IT WAS JUNE 25, 1996, Brig. Gen. Terryl J. Schwalier’s last day commanding US troops stationed in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The 4404th Wing of the US Air Force was a critical component of the coalition’s enforcement of the no-fly and no-drive zones south of the 32nd parallel in southern Iraq under Operation Southern Watch following the 1991 Gulf War. General Schwalier had already packed...

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8. Unit 1800: Targeting the Israeli Heartland

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pp. 208-245

IN THE EARLY TO MID-1990S, with the Oslo peace accords signed and Palestinian autonomy slowly growing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, opponents of peace funded, supported, and executed terrorist attacks to undermine the prospects for peace. Iran was especially active in promoting terrorism targeting Israel at this time. According to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, “in February 1999, it was...

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9. Finance and Logistics in Africa

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pp. 246-284

AT THE ISRAELI National Security Council’s Counterterrorism Bureau, located at a military base not far from Tel Aviv, one particular stream of threat reporting commanded the nearly singular focus of senior officials for several weeks in the summer of 2008: kidnappings. And those kidnappings were happening on one particular continent: Africa.
Ever since the October 2000 kidnapping of Elhanan Tannenbaum, Israeli intelligence...

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10. Unit 3800: Hezbollah in Iraq

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pp. 285-316

IN THE EARLY EVENING OF JANUARY 20, 2007, American military officers and their Iraqi counterparts met at the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, about thirty miles south of Baghdad, to coordinate security for the upcoming celebrations of the Shi’a holiday of Ashura. It was just aft er nightfall when a five-car convoy of black GMC Suburban trucks—the preferred vehicles of US government...

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11. Party of Fraud: Hezbollah’s Criminal Enterprise in America

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pp. 317-353

IN THE SPRING OF 2012, the head of the FBI’s counterterrorism office in Detroit told an audience at the local Jewish community center that while he knew of no specific Hezbollah threat to Jewish communities in metropolitan Detroit, he remained concerned about potential and “general” threats in the area, from Hezbollah and other violent extremists. “The Iranian issue . . . that is a huge deal,” he said. “Their...

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12. Shadow War

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pp. 354-380

ON JULY 18, 2012, at the height of the summer tourist season, a group of Israelis landed at the Sarafovo Airport in Burgas, Bulgaria, and boarded buses for the thirty-mile drive south to a Black Sea beachfront resort. An affordable destination and a short flight away, Bulgaria had become popular with Israeli vacationers as a winter ski and summer beach destination. But on July 18—eighteen years to the day after...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 381-388

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About the Author

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pp. 389-390

Matthew Levitt is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he directs the institute’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. He has taught at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and has held fellowships with the Combating Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy (West Point), the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George...


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pp. 391-407

E-ISBN-13: 9781626160149
E-ISBN-10: 1626160147
Print-ISBN-13: 9781626160132

Page Count: 426
Publication Year: 2013