A U.S. solider shows a picture of Ali Mussa Daqduq during a news conference..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
On Wednesday, the IDF revealed new intelligence that exposed the establishment of an impressive Hezbollah terrorist infrastructure just over the border in Syria. While Hezbollah’s presence in Lebanon is well-known and well-documented, until now, the Shi’ite Iranian-backed guerrilla group has denied operating covertly in Syria.
According to the IDF, the network – called “The Golan Project” – is currently in its initial stages of establishment and recruitment, and is not yet operational.
Interestingly, the new “Golan Project” is led by Ali Mussa Daqduq, a senior Hezbollah commander who spent five years in an Iraqi prison for a 2007 attack that killed five American soldiers in the Karbala Governorate. He was released in 2012, went back to Lebanon, and was sent to Syria this past summer to establish the Golan terrorist network. Hezbollah, it is important to keep in mind, has killed more Americans than any terrorist group other than al-Qaeda.
The Hezbollah guerrillas, the IDF said, are focused on familiarizing themselves with the Syrian Golan Heights, and on gathering intelligence on Israel and the border area.
It is not difficult to imagine what Hezbollah is planning. On July 12, 2006, a squad of its fighters crossed into Israel, attacked an IDF convoy and abducted two reservists, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. The attack set off the Second Lebanon War, during which more than 4,300 rockets were fired into northern Israel.
That was when Hezbollah was believed to have an arsenal of just 15,000 rockets. Today, it is believed to have more than 130,000, including some missiles that are capable of striking anywhere in the country. Its missiles have longer ranges, larger warheads and greater accuracy.
Israel had two options when learning of the establishment of this cell. One option was to attack it. This could have been done covertly or overtly, by an airstrike as an example, as was reportedly done to previous attempts by Hezbollah or Iran to establish a presence in Syria.
The other option – possibly forced on Israel due to restrictions on its operational freedom in Syria by Russia – was what it did on Wednesday: reveal the existence of the Hezbollah infrastructure to the world and urge the international community to take action to stop it.
It remains to be seen if the world does anything, but it would definitely be in its interest to act. Israel has shown over the last few years that it is willing to take risks to eliminate threats it views to be of a strategic nature. Former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot said in January that Israel has carried out thousands of airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria over the last few years.
If the situation in Syria escalates, and the threat posed by Hezbollah intensifies, Israel might be forced to again take action. How that plays out will be to the detriment not just of Israel, Hezbollah and Syria, but to the entire Middle East and to the superpowers – the United States and Russia – that currently maintain a presence here.
One immediate step would be for all of Europe to finally designate all segments of Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Germany, for example, continues to pretend that there is a difference between the organization’s political wing and its military apparatus. This is a hoax. Hezbollah’s so-called political wing, and its ministers in the Lebanese government, are simply covers for its ability to continue accumulating weapons, establish terrorist bases throughout the Middle East, undermine moderate Sunni regimes, and to persist in posing a grave threat to the State of Israel.
What could also happen is for the world to insist that Bashar Assad remove Hezbollah from all of Syria. As he moves to retake control of his country with the civil war winding down, the Syrian strongman was apparently unaware of Hezbollah’s “Golan Project” taking place under his nose. That has to stop, and Assad’s action against Hezbollah needs to be a condition for any engagement with Syria by the world, and for any return to political or diplomatic relations.
Hezbollah is an immediate threat to Israel as it straddles our borders. But it is also a threat with wider global ramifications. Now is the time to take action before it is too late, and the Third Lebanon War is upon us.
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