Formed in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Hizballah (the “Party of God”), a Lebanon-based Shia terrorist group, advocates Shia empowerment within Lebanon. The group also supports Palestinian rejectionist groups in their struggle against Israel and provides training for Iraqi Shia militants attacking Coalition forces in Iraq. A Hizballah operative, Ali Musa Daqduq, faces US military charges of coming to Iraq to train extremists, and of being responsible for an attack against a military facility in Karbala‘, Iraq, in January 2007 that left five American soldiers dead.
Hizballah has been involved in numerous anti-US terrorist attacks, including the suicide truck bombings of the US Embassy in Beirut in April 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983, and the US Embassy annex in Beirut in September 1984, as well as the hijacking of TWA 847 in 1985 and the Khobar Towers attack in Saudi Arabia in 1996. Although Hizballah’s leadership is based in Lebanon, the group has established cells worldwide.
Hizballah has participated in the Lebanese government since 1992. With the 2004 passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which called for the disarmament of all armed militias in Lebanon, Hizballah has focused on justifying its retention of arms by casting itself as the defender of Lebanon against Israeli aggression. On 12 July 2006, Hizballah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, sparking the 2006 war in which Hizballah claimed victory by virtue of its survival; it has since sought to use the conflict to justify its need to retain its arms as a Lebanese resistance force. In May 2008, Hizballah militants seized parts of Beirut in response to calls by the government to restrict Hizballah’s secure communications and arms. In negotiations to end the violence, Hizballah gained veto power in the government, and retained its arms and secure communications.
In February 2008, Hizballah’s military chief ‘Imad Mughniyah was killed by a vehicle bomb in Damascus. Hizballah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah publicly blamed Israel and continues to promise retaliation. Several Hizballah operations have been disrupted since Mughniyah’s death, including the 2008 disruption of a cell in Baku, Azerbaijan, targeting the Israeli embassy there, and the late-2008 disruption of a Hizballah cell in Egypt targeting Israeli tourists and ships in transiting the
In July 2011 the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) indicted four Hizballah members—including a senior Hizballah official—for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, who was killed by a car bomb in Beirut on
In July 2012, a bomb exploded on a bus in Burgas, Bulgaria, killing six Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian. The Israeli prime minister announced his government had “unquestionable” intelligence indicating Hizballah conducted the attack.