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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Syria and Terrorism

Filed under: Europe and Israel, Hizbullah, Iranian Terrorism, Israeli Security, Syria, Terrorism, U.S. Policy
Publication: Jerusalem Viewpoints

SAA:26   8 Kislev 5752

 [Editor’s Note: After Syria’s appearance at the Madrid Peace Conference, we must remind ourselves with whom Israel must deal. The U.S. needs to be reminded, too; hence, this Special Report.]

Over the past decade, it has been realized that the international war against terrorism must be conducted persistently and free of ad-hoc or narrow-minded considerations. On two occasions the United States turned a blind eye to the intensive involvement of various parties in terrorism. Reality, however, proved this to be a mistake.

In 1982, during the Iran-Iraq war, the United States decided to remove Iraq from the list of “countries which support terrorism.” This would enable the U.S. to supply Iraq with arms and other assistance in its war against Iranian Islamic fundamentalism. The Gulf War revealed Iraq’s tremendous arsenal, the sophistication of its non-conventional weaponry, and its willingness to use the means at its disposal against civilian populations in Israel and Saudi Arabia.

In 1988, the United States decided to begin talks with PLO representatives in Tunis–after Yasser Arafat had made a number of ostensibly moderate statements–while disregarding the PLO’s direct and indirect involvement in terrorism. Indeed, in July 1990, following an attempted terrorist attack at Nitzanim Beach, carried out with the full knowledge of Yasser Arafat, by the Palestine Liberation Front (a PLO faction), the U.S. Administration discontinued the series of meetings its official representatives had been conducting with PLO representatives in Tunis.

The United States seems to be repeating the same mistake for the third time. U.N. representatives are intentionally overlooking Syria’s direct involvement in a large number of terrorist activities and its support for various terrorist organizations. This policy was aimed initially at winning Syrian participation in the coalition against Iraq and later in negotiations for peace in the Middle East. The U.S. administration’s demonstrated sympathy towards President Assad’s diplomatic steps reflects its policy of lending legitimacy to pseudo-moderate statements of Arab leaders rather than scrutinizing their actions and those of their agents.


Terrorism in Syrian Military Strategy

Terrorism plays an important role in Syrian military strategy and its conception of diplomacy. Terrorist attacks perpetrated by Syrian activists or by terrorist organizations subordinate to Syria are intended to serve several Syrian interests:

  1. To burden Israeli security forces and the IDF, undermining training routine and preparations for a future war against Syria.
  2. To demoralize all Israelis and harass Israeli civilians living near the Lebanese border.
  3. To eliminate internal enemies in the inter-Arab and Palestinian arenas.
  4. To enhance Syria’s prestige in the Arab world and to further its greatest cause: the establishment of a “greater Syria” in the Middle East, encompassing Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian and Israeli territory.
  5. To undermine any possible agreement or negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and to eliminate those appearing to deviate from the path of armed struggle.

In order to achieve these goals, Syria operates on various levels simultaneously:

  1. Establishes terrorist organizations, comprising former member of the Syrian military (such as Saiqa).
  2. Helps important activists of Palestinian terrorist organizations overthrow their leaders or break away from the “mother organization” and accept Syrian authority (e.g., Fatah rebels).
  3. Offers military, economic and other aid to various terrorist organizations, in exchange for complete control over the aided organization (e.g., Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–Ahmed Jibril).
  4. Provides military and economic aid to numerous terrorist organizations throughout the world, thus securing their future assistance in carrying out attacks when the need should arise.
  5. Trains terrorists from various organizations on its territory under the guidance of members of the Syrian military.
  6. Enables terrorist organizations to run offices, headquarters and training facilities on Syrian territory.
  7. Through its diplomatic facilities around the world, helps terrorist squads carry out attacks, providing them with weapons, forged documents, etc.
  8. Acts toward the political radicalization of Palestinian terrorist organizations and the undermining of any possible solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. As Mustafa Tlas, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister, Defense Minister, and member of the Syrian Ba’ath party, wrote in his book The Israeli Invasion of Lebanon: “There is no doubt that a call for moderation, reason and logic, is admirable when directed towards the strong and triumphant. It is however a sign of weakness, leading perhaps to malevolence, when directed towards those who have lost everything and have set before them the goal of a martyr’s death or return (to Palestine) and liberation.” Or, in other words, according to Tlas, Palestinian terrorist organizations must not exercise even the slightest bit of moderation, reason or logic.
  9. Strives to create an umbrella organization, rival to the PLO, which would be subordinate to Syria and act to achieve its objectives. In this context, Syria has directed the organizations under its influence to establish organizations rival to the PLO on a number of occasions. This occurred in the early 1970s when, following the PLO’s acceptance of the principle of the “strategy of stages,” the Syrian-oriented organizations left the PLO to establish the Opposition Front. The second time, following the rebellion against Fatah (1983), the pro-Syrian organizations formed a joint operational framework called the National Alliance. Later, in an attempt to undermine the PLO’s status as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, the pro-Syrian organizations founded the Palestinian National Salvation Front. Recently, in December 1988 and again in June 1991, following the decline in Arafat’s popularity after the Gulf War, additional attempts have been made by the pro-Syrian organizations to create an alternative leadership to that of the PLO.


Syria’s Attitude Towards Terrorism

Indicative of Syria’s attitude to terrorism are the words of Hafez al-Assad, in a speech he gave at the opening of the 21st conference of Syrian labor unions, in November 1986: “We have always opposed terrorism, but terrorism is one thing and national struggle against occupation is another. We are against terrorism. We do not exercise it nor do we allow anyone to exercise it from our territory. We do, however, support the struggle against occupation, carried out by the national liberation movement. This is our fundamental and uncompromising position.”

Assad, like many terrorists and their allies, exploits the laconism of international law on a generally accepted definition of terrorism. He distinguishes between what he calls “terrorism” (without defining it). and what he calls “the national struggle against occupation.” As far as President Assad is concerned, terrorists differ from “freedom fighters” only in their objectives, and “national liberation” is an end which justifies all means. Assad, therefore, does not make a distinction between the targets chosen or the methods employed by terrorist organizations, on the one hand, and other organizations, on the other. That is why he allows himself to publicly announce (as Yasser Arafat did two years later) that he “has always opposed terrorism.”

The Syrian President was, however, to his dismay, betrayed by events: Syria’s involvement in terrorist attacks and its extensive ties with numerous terrorist organizations were laid bare for all to see. The testimonies of terrorists apprehended in Europe in the late 1980s, and traces which lead directly back to Damascus, proved beyond all doubt that the aim of Assad’s rhetoric was, in fact, to conceal Syria’s direct and indirect involvement in international terrorism. At the time, a number of Western countries saw fit to penalize Syria for its actions.

In his book Mustafa Tlas provides a first-hand account of Syrian involvement in terrorist attacks against Israel: “Syria has always partaken in the bloodshed involved in the Palestinian struggle….The Palestinian revolution was launched from Syrian territory. Moreover, the revolutionaries know there was a time when arms were taken from Syrian soldiers to be handed over to the fighters of the Palestinian revolution….”

Arafat’s former deputy, Khalil Al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), blamed Syria for the bloody attacks carried out by Abu Nidal’s organization in the airports of Rome and Vienna, and at the synagogue in Istanbul, when in October 1986 he declared: “Everyone knows that Syria and Libya are behind Abu Nidal. The man who guides Abu Nidal is General Mohammed Al-Khuli, head of Syrian Air Force intelligence.”

Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad, another former deputy of Arafat’s) went even further, and declared at a press conference in Paris in October 1986 that “Syria stands behind all terrorists in the world, no matter who they are.” Even if Abu Iyad exaggerated, there is no doubt that Syria has a hand in the actions of many terrorist organizations, Palestinian and other, in various parts of the world.


Syrian Involvement in Terrorism

Contrary to other Arab countries who support terrorism and carry out attacks almost openly, for many years Syria has attempted to conceal its direct involvement in terrorism. The Syrians have, therefore, since the 1970s, prevented the staging of terrorist attacks against Israel from Syrian territory, and have preferred to act indirectly through Palestinian and other terrorist organizations. Despite Syria’s “indirect involvement” strategy (and perhaps because of it), President Assad’s operatives have had a hand in numerous terrorist attacks in the world, in general, and in the Middle East, in particular. Comparing Syrian strategy to that of Libya, former Israeli Chief of Staff Moshe Levy said in May 1986: “Syria is more dominant, more sophisticated and less vociferous than Libya, but it is not less responsible than Libya for terrorism.”

Syria, then, sees in the strategy of “indirect involvement” a convenient and preferred method of achieving its aims, both in the international and inter-Arab arena, and against Israel. Syria, thus, takes great care to avoid public exposure, and it strives in various ways to conceal its responsibility for terrorist attacks around the world. The main method Syria uses to achieve this end is the exploitation of terrorist organizations under its influence, Palestinian and other, for the actual execution of attacks. In this context, it is possible to distinguish between two types of organizations under Syrian control:

  1. Palestinian terrorist organizations totally dependent upon Syria: These organizations receive heavy (and sometimes total) support from Syria and are incapable of acting independently. They depend on Syria in every way: economically, militarily and politically, and their operations are under constant Syrian scrutiny.
  2. Palestinian and other terrorist organizations that benefit from Syrian aid: These organizations receive ad hoc military and financial assistance from Syria. Syria allows them to train in its territory and set up offices and bases in its towns. Such organizations, however, are not completely under Syrian control, and they may act independently.

Syrian occupation of most Lebanese territory, since the early 1970s, had enabled it to dictate to the many terrorist organizations there how and when to operate. The Syrian military presence in Lebanon has also made it possible for Syria to provide organizations under its influence with military and strategic backing; intervene in disputes between organizations; penalize organizations or leaders who have deviated from the standards set by Syria; and carry out terrorist attacks against Israel, not originating from the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights.

Though Syria’s main involvement in terrorist activity around the world is indirect, through numerous subordinate terrorist organizations, in some cases it is not averse to carrying out terrorist attacks directly, using Syrian operatives, military facilities and embassies throughout the world. To this end, and in order to better coordinate and direct the activities of satellite terrorist organizations, Syria has established a multi-faceted military and intelligence apparatus responsible for terrorist activity.


Syrian Air Force Intelligence

This body is responsible for attacks abroad. Members of this establishment direct the terrorists, train them, supply them with weapons and forged documents, and see that all their needs in the target country are fulfilled, through the air force attaches at the various Syrian embassies.

During the trial of Syrian terrorist Nizar Hindawi (caught in London in 1986 trying to plant a suitcase-bomb on an El Al plane), it turned out that Mohammed Al-Khuli, then head of Syrian Air Force intelligence, and his deputy and assistant in charge of operations, Hithm Sa’id, were behind the attempted attack. Hindawi said that in early 1985, Syrian intelligence agents had told him to befriend a British woman and see to it that she boarded an El Al plane, unknowingly carrying an explosive device meant to go off during the flight. The explosive device supplied to Hindawi had been prepared in Damascus and armed at the Syrian embassy in London.

Hindawi added to Syria’s entanglement in the affair when, in a letter smuggled out of the British prison where he was incarcerated (and intercepted by Italian police), he asked his cousin to contact his Syrian commanders and to ask them to act for his exchange in return for Israeli prisoners held by Jibril’s organizations and Hizballah. In the same letter, Hindawi also asked his Syrian commanders to arrange for the abduction of British citizens to enable his exchange in return for them.

Following this attempted attack, Britain severed its diplomatic relations with Syria and expelled the Syrian ambassador. Yet, General Al-Khuli was promoted to deputy commander of the Syrian Air Force and continued serving in the capacity of chairman of the Syrian National Security Council, which answers directly to President Assad.

There have been additional terrorist attacks in which Syria’s direct involvement was uncovered: On March 29, 1986, a bomb went off in the building housing the West German-Arab Friendship Association in Berlin. Nine civilians were injured. The interrogation of suspects revealed that the attack had been carried out under instructions from the Syrian embassy in East Berlin. A week later, on April 5, a bomb went off at the La Belle discotheque in Berlin, a spot favored by U.S. servicemen stationed in Germany. Two civilians were killed in this attack and nearly 200 were injured. The perpetrators admitted to having received the explosives from the Syrian embassy in East Berlin, and to having been trained at the Abu Nidal base near Damir, east of Damascus.


Military Intelligence in Lebanon

This body, headed by Brigadier-General Ghazi Kna’an, supervises and directs terrorist operations in Lebanon, according to Syrian interests. This establishment is also directly involved in the perpetration of terrorist attacks against the SLA, the IDF, and settlements in the north of Israel. These attacks, usually carried out by Lebanese organizations (such as PPS, the Syrian National Party, “Miser Al-Uruba,” the Lebanese Ba’ath Party, the Lebanese Communist Party, and others), are mostly suicide attacks.

In such cases, the Syrians would recruit a young Lebanese or Palestinian, train him [or her] and send him [or her] to the target, equipped with a large explosive device on a motor vehicle or donkey. Malia Sufangi, caught in November 1985 before she managed to carry out her mission, using an explosive device mounted on a donkey, told her interrogators that the man behind the suicide attacks in Lebanon was Ghazi Kna’an. She claimed that Kna’an recruited young women at his headquarters in the town of Anjer in the Bekaa Valley, supplied them with information, instructed them on the way the operation is to be carried out, and dispatched them. “Everything comes from them, from the Syrians. They paid for everything, gave us everything, be it a car-bomb or a donkey carrying explosives.”

But Syria did not stop at carrying out attacks against Israeli, Christian or Palestinian targets in Lebanon. An ABC television program broadcast in October 1987 reported that Syria was also responsible for the explosion of the car-bomb outside the U.S. embassy in Beirut, in April 1983, and for the explosion at the Marines’ headquarters in Beirut a few months later. Syrian representatives who met with the perpetrators (followers of senior Hizballah activist Imad Mu’aniya) authorized the attack and even enabled the transfer of the weapons employed by the terrorists, from Iran to Lebanon via Syria.


Syria’s Double Game at the Madrid Conference

In the aftermath of the Gulf War, and following lengthy persuasion on the part of the Americans, Russians, Egyptians and others, Syria consented to participate in the Madrid Peace Conference. The Syrian decision to join the conference surprised the entire world, as it completely contradicted Syria’s steadfast policy of opposing any negotiations with Israel, along with an outright rejection of compromise and the refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign country in the Middle East.

President Assad, a man known for his great cunning, decided to agree after concluding that the success of the conference, or alternately, its failure, will only further Syrian interests. Syria’s ambition is to grasp the stick from both ends, and so be aligned with two blocs at the same time: the bloc of Arab states that are participating in the conference, and the bloc of countries that oppose it. Despite the fact that, on the surface, these camps are headed towards each other on a collision course, Syria has wisely placed itself at the head of both blocs. On the eve of the Madrid Conference, in Damascus, Syria convened all the Arab participants in order to coordinate their positions and to reach a joint decision that no negotiations in one arena will progress without negotiations in other arenas advancing as well.

Syria, which sent to the Madrid Conference not only the Syrian delegation but also the Lebanese delegation (as the Lebanese government has been a Syrian puppet-government ever since the 1989 Taif Agreement), assured itself of control over the negotiation process, and a kind of veto over any progress made towards a compromise with Israel. At the same time, Syria has decided to maintain its position among extremist states and organizations. By being a member of the Madrid Conference it cannot, of course, express its public support of the Conference denouncers. However, Syria has sent the leaders of those terrorist organizations under Syrian control to Teheran, where, at the beginning of October, the “International Conference to Save Palestine” was held.

The declared objective of the conference in Iran was to cause the Madrid Conference to fail: “to fight against the American Zionist plots.” The leaders of the Syrian-sponsored groups, headed by Ahmed Jibril (leader of the PFLP-GC), have made every effort to emphasize their commitment to the failure of the Madrid Conference and have even threatened to assassinate the Palestinian representatives to it.

There is always the possibility that in light of Syria’s political moves, Jibril has decided to sever his connection to his mother country, and waive all economic and military aid, as well as the bases and headquarters located in Syrian and Syrian-controlled Lebanese territory, and, to the consternation of his patrons, place himself at the head of the camp opposed to the Peace Conference.

The chances of this actually happening seem slight due to the great damage that would be caused to Jibril’s organization and due to the fact that Jibril has already proven, on a number of past occasions, that his loyalty to Syria is unqualified. Indeed, he prefers Syrian interests over those of his own people, the Palestinians. (This came to light when his troops fought alongside the Syrians against the Palestinian terrorist organizations in 1976, during the Lebanese civil war, and in 1983, following the Fatah split.)

It would, therefore, be reasonable to assume that Ahmed Jibril was not operating in Teheran on an independent basis, but rather as the representative and agent of President Assad. Jibril emphasized his commitment to ruining the Madrid Conference and taking his revenge on the Palestinians that took part in it, in order to strengthen Syria’s position among the Arab states that oppose any compromise whatsoever with Israel. Thus, in this subtle manner, Syria has managed to simultaneously participate in, as well as oppose, the Madrid Conference.

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Here is a brief overview of the origins and current strength of the numerous Palestinian terrorist organizations in existence today that are totally dependent upon Syria.



“The Pioneers of the War of Popular Liberation” was established in 1967 by the Syrian Ba’ath party. The organization comprised Palestinian and Syrian soldiers and officers who had served in the Syrian army. Salah Jedid was appointed its commander and was later replaced by Zahir Muhsein and Assam Alkadi. Following the principle of “Greater Syria,” the organization adopted a pan-Arab ideology, namely: “Palestine must by liberated, but there is no justification for the establishment of a separate Palestinian state in the liberated territory.” According to the organization, “The Palestinian people is a meaningless term which serves to attack Israel politically.”

At its peak, the organization numbered about 2,000 terrorists, but now numbers no more than a few hundred, organized into three battalions in Syria and Lebanon which report to the organiza-tion’s headquarters in Damascus. Since its establishment, Saiqa has carried out a number of terrorist attacks against Israeli targets (both in Israel and abroad), against rival Arab states, and against rival Palestinian organizations.


PFLP-GC–The “Jibril Front”

In late 1968, Ahmed Jibril, a former Syrian engineering corps officer, left the “Habash Front.” He and his companions established a new organization–the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–General Command (PFLP-GC), and made commitment to armed struggle against Israel their motto. The “Jibril Front,” which accepts complete Syrian domination, numbers about 2,000 terrorists. Most of its forces are deployed in Syria (in refugee camps and permanent military bases around Damascus), and in areas of Lebanon under Syrian occupation. Jibril’s main training facility is situated about 40 kilometers north of Damascus. (In March 1989, members of the organization caught the American Military Attache in Syria and his deputy photographing the training facility. According to Ahmed Jibril, records of the Front’s outposts were also found in their possession.)

The Jibril Front has carried out a number of cruel terrorist attacks, both in Israel and abroad. In December 1988, activists of the Jibril organization blew up a Pan Am airliner over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, using an explosive device triggered by a barometric mechanism. 270 people were killed. According to unofficial reports, British and German investigators came to the conclusion that the device that had caused the explosion had been produced in Syria, and smuggled into Europe by Syrian diplomatic mail.


Abu Mussa

In May 1983, a violent revolt broke out in Fatah after the severe blow the PLO had sustained during the Lebanese War, and amidst ideological discord and criticism of the extravagant lifestyle led by the organization’s leaders. Syria openly supported the rebels, who received extensive aid from the Syrian forces in Lebanon. Within a few months, the rebellion had grown considerably and many Fatah units and departments had joined the rebels (officers from Force 17, the naval force, artillery units, the Yarmukh Battalion). The organization established by the Fatah dissidents copied the structural framework of the mother-organization, and accepted the total domination of the patron state–Syria.

Similar to the other pro-Syrian terrorist organizations, the Fatah dissidents object to the very existence of the State of Israel. The leader of the organization, Abu Mussa, stated: “One cannot divide a homeland, and therefore, we must attain the liberation of all Palestinian lands. We do not oppose the liberation of part of Palestine, where we shall establish a national government, provided that there will be no reconciliation or recognition of Israel, and that we can continue the struggle for total liberation.” In an interview in April 1989, Abu Mussa justified the organization’s dependence on Syria: “As for the accusations against us, when we make evident the fact that we are operated by Syria or dependent upon Syrian policy, we reply that this serves our national goals. For this reason we find in Syria, a needed ally. We are not ashamed of being friends of Syria. We do not consider this to be a handicap, as long as we have the same objectives.”

Since its establishment, the Fatah dissidents faction has carried out a number of terrorist attacks against targets both in Israel and abroad.

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There are also a number of terrorist organizations which benefit from Syrian economic, military and other aid.


The Fatah Revolutionary Council–Abu Nidal

In 1974, Sabri Al-Banna (Abu Nidal) left the Fatah organization and established a separate faction, the Fatah Revolutionary Council. Abu Nidal’s organization has always considered itself the true representative of the original and genuine Fatah ideology, while regarding the Fatah leaders as traitors who dangerously deviated from the correct and preferred Palestinian struggle. Since founded, the Fatah Revolutionary Council has received massive military and economic aid from Iraq. In 1983, with the improvement in relations between Jordan and Iraq and in light of terrorist operations carried out by the organization independently of Iraq, Abu Nidal and most of his followers were expelled from Iraq. Following the breach between Iraq and the Revolutionary Council, Abu Nidal turned to Syria and received its support. The organization’s activists settled in Damascus, and apparently even made use of Syrian facilities to carry out terrorist attacks.

In 1985, as a result of pressure on the part of Western countries, mainly the United States (and after a number of bloody attacks perpetrated by the organization in Europe), Syria was forced to limit its support for the organization and to close down most of its offices in Syrian territory. Probably as a result of U.S. pressure, the offices of the Fatah Revolutionary Council have been transferred from Damascus to Tripoli (an area of Lebanon under Syrian control), and its ties with other pro-Syrian organizations in Lebanon have grown stronger–a process culminating in the establishment in Lebanon of a joint headquarters for the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Jibril’s PFLP, and Fatah – Abu Mussa.


Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–The “Habash Front”

The PFLP was established in late 1967 by Dr. George Habash, and adopted a Marxist-Leninist ideology. The Front numbers a few hundred terrorists arranged in military units with bases in Syria and Lebanon. Because of its opposition to any compromise with Israel, the leadership of the “Habash Front” has often found itself cooperating with Syria and the pro-Syrian organizations in the diplomatic and military domains. Since its establishment, the PFLP has carried out numerous deadly attacks.


Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine

In early 1969, following personal disputes and leadership struggles, Naif Hawatmeh and a number of activists left the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and founded the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). The Democratic Front numbers about 1,000 members, most of whom are organized in nine battalions in Lebanon, although it also maintains bases and training camps in Syria.


Palestine Liberation Front

In 1976, in an attempt to attain de facto control over Lebanon after the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war, Syria helped the Christians in their fight against the Palestinians and other Lebanese factions. It therefore compelled terrorist organizations under its control (above all, Jibril’s PFLP-GC) to fight alongside the Christians against their fellow Palestinians. The Syrian directive aroused much resentment among some members of the Jibril organization. As a result, dozens of terrorists broke away (April 26, 1977) under the leadership of the organization’s spokesman, Mahmoud Zaidan (Abul Abbas), and Talat Yakoub, and founded a new organization–the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF).

In 1984, after the Lebanese War and following the “rebellion” in the Fatah organization, the PLF split into three factions:

  1. A faction headed by Abdel Fatah Ghanem, a member of the organization’s Central Committee, which took over the PLF offices in Syria, and supported the Fatah dissidents and the pro-Syrian organizations that fought against Arafat.
  2. A faction headed by Talat Yakoub, the organization’s Secretary-General, who believed in the organization’s “independence” and “neutrality.” The forces of this faction were centered mainly in Lebanon.
  3. A faction headed by the PLF Deputy Secretary-General, Mahmoud Zaidan (Abul Abbas), which joined the ranks of Arafat’s followers.


“Hizballah”–The Party of God

A Shi’ite terrorist organization formed in Lebanon under Iranian sponsorship during the Lebanese War (1982-83). The organization was founded as a result of cooperation between Iranian volunteers, who had come to Lebanon as Revolutionary Guards, and Lebanese Shi’ite clergy.

Hizballah activists concentrated on attacks against IDF forces in Lebanon, on targets in the Security Zone, and on Israeli settlements near the Lebanese border. The organization’s activities also included suicide attacks against U.S. and French targets in Lebanon, attacks against Arab targets throughout the world, and the kidnapping of Western citizens in Lebanon.

As a rule, Hizballah maintains a good relationship with Syria, the latter controlling the deployment areas of the organization in the Lebanese Bekaa Valley, Beirut and southern Lebanon. Hizballah must satisfy the Syrian regime both because the organization’s bases, training camps and headquarters are located in areas controlled by Syria, and because Hizballah’s weapons and activists arriving from Iran must cross Syrian territory to get to the bases in Lebanon.

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Boaz Ganor is a researcher specializing in terrorism and a member of the editorial board of Matara, The Israeli Magazine for Intelligence, Weapons, Military and Security.