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Prior to 9/11, one terrorist group had killed more US citizens than any other – Hezbollah, the ‘Party of God’. Hezbollah is an organisation of highly disciplined Muslim extremists: it was they who killed 241 US marines in Beirut in 1983, bombed the US embassy there, and kidnapped and tortured US citizens living in Lebanon.
A Lebanese group of Shiite militants, Hezbollah has evolved into a major force in Lebanon’s society and politics. Formed in Lebanon by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in 1982, it is fuelled by hatred of Israel and the United States. Hezbollah served as an inspiration to Palestinian factions fighting to liberate occupied territory, and was inspired by the success of the Iranian Revolution. The party originally dreamt of transforming Lebanon’s multi-confessional state into an Iranian-style Islamic state. Its 1983 truck-bomb attack against the US Marine barracks in Beirut resulted in the largest peacetime loss ever for the US military, and caused President Reagan to withdraw all troops from Lebanon.
Lightning out of Lebanon tells the story of Hezbollah’s operations in the US. A cell in North Carolina is profiled, the members of which are the first terrorists ever convicted of violating a Federal statute banning the aiding of terrorist organisations. For ten years the cell engaged in military training and raised millions of dollars through illegal activity to support terrorists around the world. Using their exclusive sources in the Middle East and the US counter-terrorism establishment, the authors examine how best to combat the group Bob Graham, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, described as‘the A team of terrorism’.