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Lebanon News

Hezbollah sticking to its secretive ways

File - Hezbollah members parade in Teffahta during a ceremony commemorating three slain Hezbollah leaders, Imad Mughniyeh, Abbas Musawi and Sheikh Ragheb Harb, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

It is known that within Hezbollah is a notable security body that works in secret, and it is perhaps the secrecy of this body that allows it to geographically transcend Lebanon to enjoy a larger regional and even international scope.

The resistance’s work is largely kept secret, making it difficult for the media to get information other than what its press office wants to expose to the public, which the party considers its recipe for success.

The perfect example of this tactic came in the 2006 war, during which Israel was unable to estimate the actual size of the resistance’s capabilities, missiles or fighters.

“I challenge you to obtain one picture of a fighter group on the ground in the south outside the framework of the propaganda films prepared by Hezbollah’s media office. ... This is the secret of our success,” a high-ranking party leader said.

The party official revealed to The Daily Star some of Hezbollah’s security branch’s work in fighting Al-Qaeda as it engages in an open battle with the organization and its affiliated groups in Syria and Lebanon, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the Nusra Front, and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades.

While it can speak openly about some elements of this conflict, it is being secretive about other aspects, however, for Hezbollah, its battle with takfiri groups is no less important than the conflict with Israel that began in 1982 and is still going on.

The Hezbollah leader spoke to The Daily Star of the party’s principle that “its leadership and its popular base is one body that is not divided,” adding, “we have our priorities in protecting this base which has provided martyrs and wounded and prisoners and has allowed us to achieve large accomplishments and defeat Israel in a humiliating way in July 2006.”

The leader said: “Experience has proved that the party’s strong attachment to the idea of unity [between the leadership and its supporters] is what made the decision obvious for the resistance leaders to protect its popular base ... in Beirut’s southern suburbs as well as in the Bekaa Valley from the rigged cars and the spate of suicide bombers.

“During a short time, the security body within Hezbollah took a series of decisions ... to respond to the aggression on its people after political communications and diplomatic movement failed.”

The Hezbollah leader refused to disclose his security and military plan of action, except that it included everywhere from the Bekaa Valley and Beirut to southern Lebanon, even hinting at the Shebaa Farms. He said the security body had been able to deal hard blows to takfiri strongholds within Lebanon as well as reach their secret strongholds elsewhere.

The leader said the party had been able to “videotape and record some meetings that were being planned to strike the southern suburbs during Ashoura ahead of their implementation, as well as arrest the head Naim Abbas.

“Some rigged cars slipped from our hands, specifically the car that exploded in Ruwaiss and the other in front of the Iranian Embassy, but we succeeded in our deterrence methods and keeping damage to a minimum.”

“Our body succeeded since the beginning in cutting the umbilical cord between the Qalamoun region and specifically Arsal – which is the natural launching point for Al-Qaeda and its affiliates inside Lebanon – and the plan culminated in great success. This includes the entry of Lebanese Army units into the area [Arsal], taking control of the security situation and recently eliminating Sami al-Atrash.”

But Hezbollah believes its real security achievement lies in the targeting of a center to rig cars inside Syria.

“This center lies in a remote villa in the village of Hawsh al-Arab inside Syria. Within this cell, there were 15 wanted individuals who are the best professionals in rigging cars. Our secret lay in monitoring and wiretapping their phones, which enabled us to undergo a clean operation and eliminate the group with no losses and without touching the cars, which were ready to explode inside Lebanon.”

Hezbollah is probably undertaking other, more sensitive operations that have not been exposed to the public with the party’s leadership keeping the details secret. But the leader who spoke to The Daily Star confirmed that the groups affiliated with ISIS, the Nusra Front and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades were now being targeted, and that their names and faces were known, something the party considers a clear symbol of its achievements.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 02, 2014, on page 3.

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