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Lebanon Table of Contents


The Rise of the Shias

The 1979 Iranian Revolution galvanized Lebanon's Shia community and inspired in it a new militancy. Iran sought to export Shia revolution throughout the Middle East, and in doing so it provided material support to an Amal terrorist campaign. From 1979 until the 1982 Israeli invasion, Shia terrorists hijacked six airliners, attempted to bomb several others, assassinated the French ambassador to Lebanon, blew up the French and Iraqi embassies, and committed numerous other violent acts.

The Israeli invasion served as a catalyst for a further upsurge in Shia militancy. In July 1982 Iran dispatched an expeditionary force of volunteer Pasdaran Revolutionary Guards to Lebanon, ostensibly to fight Israeli invaders. The approximately 650 Pasdaran established their headquarters in the city of Baalbek in the Syrian-controlled Biqa Valley. There they conducted terrorist and guerrilla training, disbursed military matériel and money, and disseminated propaganda.

The political fission that characterized Lebanese politics also afflicted the Shia movement, as groups split off from Amal. Husayn al Musawi, a former Amal lieutenant, entered into an alliance with the Revolutionary Guard and established Islamic Amal. Other Shia groups included Hizballah (Party of God), Jundallah (Soldiers of God), the Husayn Suicide Commandos, the Dawah (Call) Party, and the notorious Islamic Jihad Organization, reportedly headed by Imad Mughniyyah (see Internal Security and Terrorism , this ch.).

Data as of December 1987