Last updated on: 2/22/2012 3:27:49 PM PST

What Is Hezbollah?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The Congressional Research Service wrote in an Oct. 8, 2010 report "Hezbollah: Background and Issues for Congress" on

"Lebanon’s Hezbollah ('Party of God') is a Shiite Islamist militia, political party, social welfare organization, and U.S. State Department-designated terrorist organization. Its armed element (referred to by many in Lebanon as 'the resistance') receives support from Iran and Syria and possesses significant paramilitary and unconventional warfare capabilities that rival and in some cases exceed those of Lebanon’s armed forces and police. The United States government holds Hezbollah responsible for a number of kidnappings and high-profile terrorist attacks against U.S., European, and Israeli interests since the early 1980s.

In the wake of the summer 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah and an armed domestic confrontation between Hezbollah and rival Lebanese groups in May 2008, Lebanon’s political process is now intensely focused on Hezbollah’s future role in the country’s political system and security sector. Despite its status as a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, Hezbollah politicians won 10 seats out of 128 in parliament in the 2009 national elections, and Hezbollah currently controls the Agriculture and Administrative Reform ministries in the cabinet. Hezbollah’s militia also is firmly entrenched in areas it controls, making it unlikely that any domestic security force could uproot it by force...

Hezbollah continues to define itself primarily as a resistance movement and remains viscerally opposed to what it views as illegitimate U.S. and Israeli intervention in Lebanese and regional affairs. It categorically refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and opposes all concluded and pending efforts to negotiate resolutions to Arab-Israeli disputes on the basis of mutual recognition, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Oct. 8, 2010 - Congressional Research Service (CRS) 

Mohamad Bazzi, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in a July 15, 2010 article "Backgrounder: Hezbollah" on the Council on Foreign Relations website:

"Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim political group with a militant wing the United States defines as a terrorist organization. The group, which is active in Lebanon, is a major provider of social services, operating schools, hospitals, and agricultural services for thousands of Lebanese Shiites. Hezbollah's political standing was bolstered after a wave of violence in May 2008 prompted Lebanon's lawmakers to compromise with the group. In August 2008, the country's parliament approved a national unity cabinet, giving Hezbollah and its allies veto power with eleven of thirty cabinet seats. In the June 2009 parliamentary elections, Hezbollah lost to Lebanon's ruling pro-Western "March 14" coalition, reflected in the reduction of its cabinet seats; it retained only two. Hezbollah also operates the al-Manar satellite television channel and broadcast station, which the United States regards as a terrorist entity...

Hezbollah was founded in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and subsumed members of the 1980s coalition of groups known as Islamic Jihad. It drew inspiration from the Iranian Revolution, received training from Iran's Revolutionary Guards and funds from Tehran, and has close links to Iran and Syria...

Its base is in Lebanon's Shiite-dominated areas, including parts of Beirut, southern Lebanon, and the Bekaa Valley. In addition, U.S. intelligence reports say that Hezbollah cells operate in Europe, Africa, South America, and North America.

Despite Israel's 2000 withdrawal from Lebanon, Hezbollah continued to periodically shell Israeli forces in the disputed Shebaa Farms border zone. Periodic conflict between the group and Israel erupted into full-scale war during the summer of 2006. A UN-brokered cease-fire was formalized on August 14, 2006, ending the five-week conflict, but not before more than one thousand people were killed and hundreds of thousands were forced to flee. Israel-Hezbollah tensions remain high, causing fear of a third Lebanon war...

Its core consists of several thousand militants and activists, the U.S. government estimates. Intelligence officials estimate that Hezbollah's weapons arsenal includes between 40,000 to 80,000 short and long-range rockets, as well as anti-aircraft, anti-tank, and anti-ship weapons."

July 15, 2010 - Mohamad Bazzi 

The US Department of State, in a May 21, 2002 entry titled "Patterns of Global Terrorism," released by the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, stated:

"Formed in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, this Lebanon-based radical Shi’a group takes its ideological inspiration from the Iranian revolution and the teachings of the late Ayatollah Khomeini. The Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council, is the group’s highest governing body and is led by Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. Hizballah is dedicated to liberating Jerusalem, ultimately eliminating Israel, and has formally advocated ultimate establishment of Islamic rule in Lebanon. Nonetheless, Hizballah has actively participated in Lebanon’s political system since 1992. Hizballah is closely allied with, and often directed by, Iran but may have conducted operations that were not approved by Tehran. While Hizballah does not share the Syrian regime’s secular orientation, the group has been a strong tactical ally in helping Syria advance its political objectives in the region."

May 21, 2002 - United States Department of State 

Sheikh Ibrahim al-Amin, former Hezbollah spokesman, stated in his Feb. 16, 1985 article "An Open Letter: The Hizballah Program" in the al-Safir newspaper (Beirut, Lebanon):

"We are often asked: Who are we, the Hizballah, and what is our identity? We are the sons of the umma (Muslim community) - the party of God (Hizb Allah) the vanguard of which was made victorious by God in Iran. There the vanguard succeeded to lay down the bases of a Muslim state which plays a central role in the world. We obey the orders of one leader, wise and just, that of our tutor and faqih (jurist) who fulfills all the necessary conditions: Ruhollah Musawi Khomeini. God save him!

By virtue of the above, we do not constitute an organized and closed party in Lebanon. Nor are we a tight political cadre. We are an umma linked to the Muslims of the whole world by the solid doctrinal and religious connection of Islam, whose message God wanted to be fulfilled by the Seal of the Prophets, i.e., Muhammad. This is why whatever touches or strikes the Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines and elsewhere reverberates throughout the whole Muslim umma of which we are an integral part. Our behavior is dictated to us by legal principles laid down by the light of an overall political conception defined by the leading jurist (wilayat al-faqih).

As for our culture, it is based on the Holy Koran, the Sunna and the legal rulings of the faqih who is our source of imitation (marja' al-taqlid). Our culture is crystal clear. It is not complicated and is accessible to all.

No one can imagine the importance of our military potential as our military apparatus is not separate from our overall social fabric. Each of us is a fighting soldier. And when it becomes necessary to carry out the Holy War, each of us takes up his assignment in the fight in accordance with the injunctions of the Law, and that in the framework of the mission carried out under the tutelage of the Commanding Jurist."

An Open Letter: The Hizballah Program

Feb. 16, 1985 - Hezbollah (Party of God)