However You Pronounce It

Hizbollah: pronounced /ˌhɛzbəˈlɑː/;[36] Arabic: حزب الله‎ Ḥizbu ‘llāh, literally “Party of Allah” or “Party of God”

I have always appreciated Hezbollah as a staunch terrorist threat. This statement paraphrases favorably that I have feared them as an enemy organization to my country—though ‘fear’ was never my choice of word to instill confidence during my tenure with Delta. That I appreciated or feared them is solid recognition of the group as a terrorist threat to Western powers.

Hizbollah (or Hezbollah or Hizbullah) wasn’t created to combat the West, though it did strongly oppose American and French presence in Lebanon. In fact, it was created in 1985 with the extant goal of harassing Israel. The organization was conceived by Muslim clerics and founded/funded by Iran in an effort to consolidate a smattering of Lebanese Shia Muslim groups into a singular effort to counter Israel in the ongoing Iran-Israel conflict.

Recognized as a Terrorist Group

Hizbollah is based in Lebanon and headquartered in Beirut, where it serves as a proxy for Iran.  The figure currently at the organization’s helm is Hassan Nasrallah.

Hassan Nasrallah is the third and current Secretary-General of the Lebanese political and paramilitary party Hezbollah. His predecessor, Abbas al-Musawi, was assassinated by the Israel Defense Forces in February 1992. گفت‌وگو با دبیرکل حزب‌الله لبنان

Western-allied nations formally recognize Hizbollah as a terrorist organization. A healthy contingent of about 12 Arab states, primarily those states with membership in the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council, also consider Hizbollah as a terrorist group. Iran, the obstreperous child that it is, is not in either alliance. In fact, in the case of the Gulf Coop, all the Persian Gulf Arab states except Iran are members.

The Hizbollah founding leaders were loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini, who graced the organization with training from his own elite guard forces. As for the particulars of Hizbollah in Lebanon, the organization’s strength, though paramilitary by definition, is known to rival that of the Lebanese national army. Hizbollah holds actual seats in the national government and even boasts its own radio and TV shows. In June of 2018, Hizbollah’s Twitter and Facebook accounts were shut down by the respective site administrators.

A Constant Threat

During my time with Delta, we were always conscious of the existential threat of Hizbollah, whose name came up in every pre-alert cycle intelligence brain dump. Each cycle, Unit intelligence analyst met with the pending alert squadron and, according to their specifically assigned threat areas of the world, stood up one by one, delivering a current Intelligence Summary (INTSUM) for their assigned sector of the world. Hizbollah never failed to make the Middle East threat INTSUM.

The Torture and Killing of William F. Buckley

The most notably heinous act for which Delta recognized Hizbollah was for its hand in the apprehension, torture, and subsequent murder of CIA Station Chief and former Green Beret officer William Francis Buckley. During Buckley’s captivity, several videotapes of his torture were filmed by Hizbollah and delivered to Western authorities. One of the Delta officers I went through Selection and Assessment with was privy to (at least) one of the torture tapes. When a group of us boorishly requested the officer to kindly expound on the film content, he dismissed our insistence in the most disturbing and adamant fashion, saying that we “just didn’t want to know.”