(by Jack Moore, Newsweek) – The U.S. government has issued a $12 million bounty for information leading to the capture of two senior leaders of the Lebanese Shiite [Islamic] militant group Hezbollah who are believed to be plotting attacks on U.S. soil.
“It is our assessment that Hezbollah is determined to give itself a potential homeland option as a critical component of its terrorism playbook,” Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said in a briefing Tuesday.
Hamiyah is the leader of Hezbollah’s “international terrorism branch,” a figure with ties to attacks and kidnap plots against Americans, the State Department said.
Shukr is a general for Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, where it shares a border with Israel, a U.S. ally that the militant force considers its archenemy. He has also played a role in Hezbollah’s operations in Syria.
This is the first U.S.-issued bounty for Hezbollah leaders in more than a decade.
A Hezbollah official told the Associated Press on Wednesday the move is part of Washington’s effort to “demonize” the group. The official said the new measures would not hamper the group’s activities in the Middle East.
“It is part of the continuous efforts to demonize Hezbollah. They are false accusations that will not have any effect on the operational activities of Hezbollah,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Hezbollah is a proxy of the Iranian government, which funds and arms the group to boost its strength in both Lebanon and Syria, where it is fighting in support of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the six-year civil war.
The decision to place a financial bounty on the two leaders comes as [newly elected president Donald Trump is implementing a much stronger U.S. policy than previous presidents against the agressive] Iranian regime and its activities both at home and abroad.
He has for months taken aim at the landmark? nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers in July 2015, threatening to tear up the agreement that was reached after years of negotiating by the international community. [Although a majority of Americans opposed the deal with Iran, President Obama bypassed Congress and signed an executive order in January 2016 which ended the 20-years of sanctions against Iran for pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Then, in August 2016, the Obama administration secretly arranged a delivery of $400 million in cash to Iran on an unmarked plane on the same day Iran released four American hostages.]
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1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this news item. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)
2. Who are Talal Hamiyah and Fu’ad Shukr? Be specific.
3. a) Define proxy.
b) What is Hezbollah? Which government backs this group? Be specific.
4. What is significant about the bounties placed on Hamiyah and Shukr?
5. Read the “Background” and watch the report under “Resources.” Ask a parent or a grandparent:
a) What do you remember about any of the Americans murdered by Hezbollah?
b) Do you support President Trump’s handling of Iran and Hezbollah?
Please explain your answers.
Hezbollah, whose name means “party of Allah,” is a terrorist group believed responsible for nearly 200 attacks since 1982 that have killed more than 800 people. It was founded in 1982 in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley by a Shia clergyman educated in Iran. Hezbollah’s stated objectives include:
- the establishment of a Shiite theocracy in Lebanon
- the destruction of Israel
- the elimination of Western influences from the Middle East
Hezbollah is an umbrella organization of various radical Islamic Shi’ite groups and organizations which receives substantial financial and philosophical support from Iran.
In 2006, Hezbollah fighters raided an Israeli border post and kidnapped two soldiers. This touched off a war between Israel and Hezbollah that lasted a month until the Israeli and Lebanese governments agreed to a cease-fire under a United Nations Security Council deal, resolution 1701. Resolution 1701 calls for the “full cessation of hostilities” between Hezbollah and Israel. It sketches a plan for the phased withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon and calls for an expanded peacekeeping force there (of 15,000 U.N. troops).
PARTIAL LIST OF SOME OF THE AMERICANS MURDERED BY HEZBOLLAH from a 2012 Wall Street Journal article by Bret Stephens:
- 17 Americans killed in April 1983 at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut [Lebanon] by the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad Organization, later known as Hezbollah.
- 241 U.S. servicemen killed by Islamic Jihad at the Marine barracks in Beirut on Oct. 23, 1983.
- Master Chief Robert Dean Stethem, beaten to death in June 1985 by a Hezbollah terrorist in Beirut aboard TWA flight 847.
- William Francis Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut, tortured to death by Hezbollah that same month (June 1985).
- Marine Col. William Higgins, taken hostage in 1988 while serving with U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon and hanged by Hezbollah sometime later.
- The 19 U.S. Air Force personnel killed in June 1996 in the Khobar Towers [Saudi Arabia] bombing, for which several members of Saudi Hezbollah were indicted in U.S. federal court.
Bret Stephens also wrote: “Sensible policy on Iran begins not with the question of how to avoid a war—that war was foisted on us in 1979—but how to win it. Anything less invites further terror and dishonors the memory of Iran’s many American victims.”
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