'Don't fight Israel outside Lebanon'

Hizbullah calls on supporters abroad to respect laws of host countries and not to fight Israel on their soil.

Kassem 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Kassem 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
While Lebanon's Hizbullah still places the struggle against Israel at the top of its agenda, the organization is calling on its supporters around the world not to attack Israeli interests. Sheikh Na'im Kassem, Hizbullah's deputy secretary-general, gave a speech in Beirut over the weekend during a conference attended by Lebanese emigrants. During the conference, Kassem called on Hizbullah supporters living abroad to respect the laws of their host countries and not to fight Israel on their soil. "The fight against Israel should take place in Lebanon and not anywhere else," said Kassem. Following the assassination of Hizbullah operations head Imad Mughniyya last February, the organization threatened to respond, suggesting it might choose to strike Israeli interests around the world. The Israeli media reported on Sunday that security agents had flown to a country in Western Africa to warn Israelis residing there of an imminent attack by Hizbullah. Dr. Yoram Kahati, an Israeli terror expert at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism, said he believed Kassem's call reflected the constraints under which the organization had been operating since it joined the Lebanese coalition government last month. "Hizbullah today is more limited than it was before it joined the government," Kahati said. Kahati explained that after Hizbullah joined the coalition, any attack on its behalf would implicate the entire Lebanese government. Kassem's call may also be a sign that the organization has not yet decided where it wants to strike. They may want to strike in a country where no Shi'ites live, making it hard to trace the attack back to the movement, says Kahati. Many Israeli businessmen and tourists frequent Western Africa, a region considered vulnerable from the security standpoint.