How does Hezbollah systematically infiltrate Lebanon?

Hezbollah’s Women’s Organizations Unit. (photo credit: THE MEIR AMIT INTELLIGENCE AND TERRORISM INFORMATION CENTER)
Hezbollah’s Women’s Organizations Unit.
Hezbollah, as an arm of Iran, uses women’s groups, sports, education, health programs and a cult surrounding Iran’s supreme leader to infiltrate and maintain a hold on the Lebanese state, according to a series of reports by an intelligence center.
The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center issued a report at the end of last week discussing the latest strategies of Hezbollah in constructing a “mini-state” among the Shi’ite community in Lebanon.
With massive financial and strategic support from Iran, Hezbollah continues to enlarge an entire virtually autonomous civilian system that “operates alongside its military infrastructure.”
According to the Meir Amit center, the social institutions that were established by Hezbollah “provide Shi’ite residents with a wide variety of services of the sort which is usually provided by the state, while taking advantage of the weakness of the Lebanese central government and the long-time neglect of the Shi’ite community.”
The reports have said that Hezbollah’s extensive civilian activity “is designed to create among the Shi’ites in Lebanon a ‘resistance society’ that believes in the ideology of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and is committed to supporting Hezbollah in its struggle against Israel.”
Last week’s report especially emphasized Hezbollah’s Women’s Organizations Unit, which is designed “to inculcate Shi’ite Islam and the Iranian worldview in the women and strengthen…the support of Hezbollah and its hegemony in Shi’ite society.”
“Hezbollah attaches special importance in the role of women in raising a younger generation imbued with Hezbollah’s ideology and supporting their husbands who enlist in Hezbollah,” said the report.
In order to best accomplish these goals, the women’s indoctrination has actual workshops: how to raise children on Hezbollah’s ideology; how it is possible to function as a shahid’s (martyred person) mother or wife; and how to fulfill the role of both mother and father if the husband dies.
The report said that these workshops are designed “to provide Hezbollah’s fighters, who are considered as potential shahids, with peace of mind knowing that if they are killed in battle, their families will continue to function properly.”
Due to religious beliefs, the report said that Hezbollah has so far refrained from recruiting women for terrorist actions, something that is not true for other terror groups.
Another recent report by the Meir Amit center focused on Hezbollah’s use of sports to draft recruits, placing the emphasis on soccer games due to their tremendous popularity.
In addition, Hezbollah’s sports mobilization program promotes sports branches improving the skills of the youth that will join the ranks of Hezbollah in martial arts, running and shooting.
About half of the sports competitions, according to the report, are held on dates of symbolic significance for Hezbollah, such as the anniversary of the IDF’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon, Shahid Day.
Furthermore, the report said that sports competitions are used for the glorification of Hezbollah’s shahids, and teams and sports facilities are named after them.
In this regard, Sports Mobilization head Hajj Jihad Atiya has said that Hezbollah perceives sports as a means of inculcating the youth with its values and attracting it to its ranks, based on the connection between sports and the jihadi-military mindset, the report noted.
In yet another report, the intelligence center highlighted Hezbollah’s Education Mobilization initiative, which assists Shi’ite students in the various educational institutions.
“Hezbollah’s assistance finds its expression in aid with tuition, textbooks, remedial lessons, courses in advance of the matriculation exams and university entrance exams, workshops and trips,” said the report.
The Education Mobilization activity is in addition to Hezbollah’s indoctrination that it already imbues through its networks of private schools – the Al-Mahdi and the Al-Mustafa school networks – and through the youth movement, the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts Association.
Finally, another report noted Hezbollah’s focus on establishing a cult dedicated to Iran supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and before him the Islamic Revolution founder, Imam Ruhollah Khomeini.
Not only does Hezbollah publicly signal its loyalty to Iran and Khamenei, but senior Iranian leaders have repeatedly stressed Hezbollah’s complete loyalty to Iran and its commitment to the Iranian leadership.
“Cultivating Khamenei’s personality cult is evidence that Hezbollah regards Iran and its leader as the highest source of authority for its strategy, including its military moves against Israel,” said the report.
In the opening ceremony of Hezbollah’s summer activity in southern Lebanon, attended by operatives of Hezbollah’s military and civilian infrastructures, the participants sang the “Song of Pledge of Allegiance” to the ruling Islamic jurist Imam Ali Khamenei.
According to the report, the song is also called “We Love Loyalty,” which first and foremost express commitment and loyalty to Khamenei – “We love loyalty, loudly do we pray for Ali Khamenei.”
Another motif in the song is solidarity between Hezbollah and other countries where Iran handles proxies among the Shi’ite communities. The report said that the “common denominator between Hezbollah and the Shi’ite communities mentioned in the song (Bahrain, Yemen, and Iraq) is loyalty” to Khamenei.
The June 28 ceremony, entitled “Our Generations are the Message of Victory,” took place in the hussainiya (a Shi’ite social/religious club of sorts) of the city of Nabatiya.
Despite the attempt by some Western countries to differentiate between Hezbollah’s operatives from its so-called “military wing” and its political institutions, both categories of officials took part in the ceremony interchangeably.
This background, especially Iran’s involvement, is a crucial point, since the rest of Lebanon may disagree with Iran about whether and when it is appropriate to fight with Israel.
Normally, such a disagreement would be expected to completely restrain Hezbollah from acting.
The report suggests that Iran has far more say even in critical war and peace issues for Hezbollah and Lebanon than a foreign ally normally would.
Iran, which established Hezbollah during the First Lebanon War, attached major importance to indoctrination activity and loyalty to Iranian leaders among Shi’ite youth from Hezbollah’s inception, said the report.
This is a long-term investment, but the report said that the Iranians “believe that without it they would not be able to realize their vision in Lebanon, and to this end, they were prepared to invest large sums of money for a period of up to several decades.”