Analysis: Hezbollah's indoctrination

By JOSHUA BRILLIANT, UPI Israel Correspondent   |   Aug. 29, 2006 at 3:54 PM
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TEL AVIV, Israel, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Israeli soldiers who searched Hezbollah homes and bunkers in the south Lebanese village of Maroun el-Ras found a booklet that provided a glimpse into that movement's religious indoctrination.

It extolled holy war and martyrdom and provided examples from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' experience.

Soldiers found four copies of that booklet in Maroun el-Ras that has seen some heavy fighting with Hezbollah.

Israeli intelligence experts reckoned that since several copies were found in Hezbollah's front lines, the 60-page booklet must be an authorized Islamic guidance manual.

It is written like a Muslim-Shiite ideological treatise with quotes from the Koran and Shiite traditions. It presents the Jihad, or Holy War, as a way in which a Muslim may sacrifice his life for Allah and reach heaven. The Shahada, or martyrdom on the battlefield, is a prize for a Muslim warrior, the document says.

There are several gates to Heaven and the most prestigious of all is the one for those involved in a Jihad. That is why every Muslim should strive to take part in a holy war. Victory in a Jihad, or martyrdom, are tops.

Israel's Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which the intelligence community uses to release declassified materials, analyzed Hezbollah's booklet. Its deputy director, Yoram Kahati, noted that Hezbollah considers its fighters as being not only Lebanese but, "Mainly Muslim-Shiite Jihad fighters who fulfill a most important religious commitment." That sense increases their motivation to fight Israel, he maintained.

No Arab state has made Jihad its strategy, Kahati noted. Only radical Sunni-Muslims, such as al-Qaida, give Jihad that much importance. However Iran, which is Muslim-Shiite, has been trying to export its ideas to the Shiites in Lebanon and set an example to the other, Muslim-Sunni world, Kahati wrote.

The booklet says that preserving military hierarchy is a religious matter and the report noted that Hezbollah is, indeed, a disciplined organization.

War zones should be turned into sites of religious worship, and fighters must be imbued with a "revolutionary spirit" that does not accept surrender, the booklet notes.

Such indoctrination explains Hezbollah's good fighting capabilities, said intelligence Col. in the reserves Reuven Ehrlich, who is the center's director and Head of the Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Studies Program at the Interdisciplinary Institute in Herzliya.

Bearing arms and fighting a holy war is not just a military profession for them but part of a religious belief, he told United Press International. These principles are taught at a very young age, he added.

Israeli troops are holding on to some 30 Lebanese arrested during the war and an authoritative military source told UPI he believed some 20 to 24 of them are Hezbollah members.

One of them is Hussein Ali Sliman, 20, who told an interrogator his training included courses on Mohammad's life, Islam's main principles and rules.

The Israeli officer said that copies of the Koran and religious slogans were found on the bodies of dead Hezbollah guerrillas and with prisoners.

The Hezbollah men are not as extreme as the Palestinian suicide bombers "and no one came up to an armored personnel carrier and blew himself up. They fought like guerrillas," the source officer noted. To keep it up they must be highly motivated, he noted.

Guerrillas' lines of communications are not that good and fighters are often on their own. That is why they need a strong spirit to continue fighting, he said. Some Hezbollah men fought to the bitter end and some kept returning to Bint Jbail, for example, even though the Israelis controlled that area with fire, the officer noted.

Fighters must have advanced weapons the book said citing a verse in the Koran that requires Muslim fighters to be ready with full force to instill fear in the enemy.

That is why disarmament and cease-fire with Israel are not long-term options, the document indicates. Such moves would seem to break religious principles.

Hence Hezbollah in both northern and southern Lebanon will persistently refuse to disarm, and Iran is going to back it, the report said.

Kahati told UPI Israel can expect, at the most, a "kind of a hudna," a cease fire that is permitted for a maximum of 10 years in case the Muslim side feels it is militarily inferior.

Hezbollah leaders in Lebanon have agreed to maintain a low profile and not display their arms, but they will not surrender those arms to the authorities.

"They are going to rebuild and strengthen themselves and if they feel they can carry out (operations)... they have a right to abrogate the hudna...That is why this is a temporary situation and you cannot know what will happen," Kahati cautioned.

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