Hezbollah has probably attracted greater world attention than any other politico–military movement in modern times. Defining itself an anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist liberation movement, Hezbollah initially won the admiration of Arabs and Muslims but the unflinching indignation and resentment of most of the rest of the world. Notoriety in Western minds preceded its formal establishment when Hezbollah, allegedly masquerading as the shadowy Islamic Jihad Organization, perpetrated two suicide attacks in Beirut on October 23, 1983, that blew up the U.S. Marines barracks and the French military headquarters attached to the Multinational Force in Lebanon. These attacks, and the subsequent spate of kidnappings of American and European nationals in Lebanon, formed in the Western collective consciousness an indelible image of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

The foundations of ...

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