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LEBANON - Party of God, May 2003

Related Features THE STORY
Synopsis of "Party of God"

A History of Hezbollah

Negotiating With Hezbollah

Lebanon Country Profile

Hezbollah, the Region and U.S. Policy




1992-2001: Global Terror
Civil WarHezbollah EmergesTarget AmericaGlobal TerrorThe Fate of Hezbollah
Geographical Key

The Battle for Lebanon Explodes in Argentina

Poster of Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and Sheikh Abbas Mussawi

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, right, vowed revenge after Israel assassinated Hezbollah leader Sheikh Abbas Mussawi, left. A series of international terrorist attacks soon followed.
Israel initiated a campaign in 1992 to drive Hezbollah forces from the southern border of Lebanon. Fierce fighting raged for weeks, with frequent raids into Lebanese territory and shelling campaigns by the Israeli army. The campaign culminated in February 1992 when Israeli forces assassinated Hezbollah leader Sheikh Abbas Mussawi, along with his wife, his child and five bodyguards. Within days, Hezbollah's 11-man leadership council elected Mussawi's successor, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. Nasrallah vowed swift revenge on Israel.

When revenge struck in March, it was not the sort many had anticipated. Rather than hitting directly at targets within Israel, a suicide bomber hit the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The explosion killed 38 people. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility within hours of the attack. Other acts of international terrorism soon followed. After Israeli soldiers kidnapped top Hezbollah operative Mustafa Dirani in May 1994, Islamic Jihad bombed a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, killing 95 people. Two bomb attacks against Jewish targets in London followed.

The remains of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires

A fireman and rescue workers search the remains of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 17, 1992, after a powerful bomb exploded. (Agence France Presse)
It now became apparent that terrorists associated with Hezbollah, which had been viewed as a provincial Lebanese-based militia, were capable of fighting a war not only within their own region but also against targets around the world.

Terror's Global Reach

Although Hezbollah denied any participation in the bombings, U.S., Israeli and Argentine intelligence officials were convinced of its involvement. The CIA announced that Iran had provided local logistical support for the attacks. Arrest warrants for four Iranian officials, issued by Judge Juan JosČ Galeano of Argentina in March 2003, have helped support these assertions.

According to U.S. intelligence analysts, the involvement of both Iran and Islamic Jihad was consistent with the pattern of proxy warfare that characterized Hezbollah's terrorist program. "The operation itself was trademark Hezbollah," says Vincent Cannistraro, former CIA head of counterterrorism operations. No Hezbollah operatives have been arrested for the attacks, however.

Map detail

A map of South America's triple frontier, where the borders of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil intersect. Hezbollah is believed to run terrorist training camps in the area near Foz do Iguacu.
There is little doubt that Hezbollah has spent the last decade expanding its operations around the world, international intelligence officials say. As early as November 1994, the Israeli deputy defense minister, Mordechai Gur, warned that Hezbollah was using the "triple frontier," where the borders of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil intersect, as a base for terrorist activities.

Argentine officials say that Hezbollah runs terrorists camps from a series of farms in the triple frontier. The operations are allegedly financed through drug running and the smuggling of contraband items, such as pirated software and music CDs. Money made from these illicit activities, amounting to several million dollars over the last decade, is possibly being laundered through South American banks. Intelligence officials also believe that the bomb used in the 1994 attack on the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires was manufactured in the triple frontier.

NEXT - Global Terror (continued): A Top Terrorist

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