The Palestinian terror group Ansar Allah announced a total “military, security
and political” split from its backer Hezbollah, Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal
reported on Wednesday.
Ansar Allah, which is led by former Fatah official
Jamal Suleiman, issued a statement on Tuesday that said that the group had
worked for the “jihadist resistance” for many years and would “continue on the
path of jihad and resistance until the liberation of all occupied
The statement, which was distributed in the Ain el-Hilweh
Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Sidon, said Ansar Allah would
continue to exist as an armed “independent jihadist movement” whose aim was the
“liberation of the land and holy places desecrated by the Jewish occupiers,”
according to Al-Mustaqbal, the newspaper of Lebanon’s Future Movement, which is
opposed to Hezbollah.
Ansar Allah, which the US has described as a
“clandestine subgroup of Hezbollah” was first formed in 1982 during the First
Lebanon War, and reportedly has hundreds of armed operatives in Palestinian
refugee camps in Lebanon.
Through Hezbollah, Ansar Allah has been an
important proxy for Iran, through which Tehran has perpetrated its shadow war
against Israeli and Jewish targets.
Ansar Allah was unknown until July
1994, when it issued a statement expressing support for the deadly bombing of
the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Hezbollah and Iran are widely
suspected to have been behind that attack, which killed 85 people.
Allah and Hezbollah are also suspected of involvement in another terror attack,
the bombing of a commuter aircraft, Alas Chiricanas Flight 00901, in Panama on
the night of July 19, 1994 – a day after the AMIA bombing. A semtex plastic
explosive charge, carried by a man calling himself Lya Jamal, went off killing
21 passengers, 12 of them Jewish.
Ansar Allah issued another statement
after the Panama bombing, expressing support for the act.
maintained that the two bombings had their origins in Iran, which hired
operatives from Hezbollah to carry them out.
Ansar Allah has since
admitted its connection with Hezbollah.
In 2007, the group’s military
leader, Maher Oweid, admitted that all of Ansar Allah’s funding, as well as
security and political cover, came from Hezbollah.
Ansar Allah operatives
were also trained by Hezbollah when the group had open training camps in
Lebanon, and the group had previously taken a leading role in Hezbollah
operations, Oweid said.
While openly admitting backing from the
Hezbollah, Oweid denied that Ansar Allah has taken any money directly from
Tehran. However, the group is known for holding military demonstrations on Al-
Quds Day, the anti-Israeli “holiday” created by Ayatollah
According to Al-Mustaqbal, Ansar Allah’s announcement of its
defection from Hezbollah has caused an uproar in Palestinian refugee camps,
mostly because the statement revealed again the group’s substantial political,
security and logistical relationship with Hezbollah and its backer,
The daily cited unnamed Palestinian sources as saying that the
decision to split from Hezbollah came after disputes over Hezbollah’s declining
financial support for the group. However, the sources also hinted that Ansar
Allah’s decision may be connected with a fundamental disagreement over
Hezbollah’s support for Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, Iran’s closest regional
Palestinian sources told Al-Mustaqbal that Ansar Allah had signaled
that it may support Syrian rebel forces, whereas Hezbollah has worked closely
with its sponsor, Iran, to play a critical role in helping Assad try to quash
According to Al-Mustqbal, Hezbollah previously wired money
every month to Ansar Allah’s leader Suleiman, but the transfers stopped in
December. When Ansar Allah operatives made inquiries, Hezbollah told them that
it wanted to discuss making funding subject to new conditions.
did not specify what those conditions were, however.
At the same time as
it distanced itself from Ansar Allah, Hezbollah has also started to cultivate
ties with other extremist Palestinian groups in Ain el-Hilweh, the sources told
Al-Mustaqbal. The sources named two al-Qaida affiliates: Asbat al- Ansar (League
of the Partisans), a Salafist extremist group which the US and UN have
designated a terrorist group; and al- Haraka al-Islamiya al-Mujahid (The Islamic
Struggle Movement), a Sunni group led by Sheikh Jamal Khattab.
Allah’s decision to split from Iran’s Lebanese proxy comes as disagreements over
Syria continue to disrupt and shift Tehran’s influence among Palestinian terror
Like Ansar Allah, Hamas has also sided with Syria’s rebels, who
are Sunnis like themselves. At the same time, Hamas has also moved closer to
Qatar. Tehran has tried to play down the resulting dispute, with the Persian
language IRIB news agency quoting Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon on Monday as
saying Hamas had “not distanced itself from Syria.”