Hizbullah operatives caught in Baghdad

Group's southern Lebanon commander: We are stronger than before and ready for war with Israel.

Nabil Kaouk 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Nabil Kaouk 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
In a display of Hizbullah's extended involvement in conflicts throughout the Middle East, Coalition Special Forces captured two members of the group during a raid over the weekend in eastern Baghdad. According to the Multinational Force Iraq, the raid targeted the home of an individual suspected of serving as a member of a Hizbullah cell - called "Kata'ib Hizbullah" or "Hizbullah Brigades" - suspected of making videos of attacks on coalition forces. The videos are then used to raise funds and resources for additional attacks against coalition and Iraqi forces. According to media reports, the Hizbullah Brigades have been active for over a year in Iraq and like Hizbullah in Lebanon, the group is trained and financed by Iran, likely via the Hizbullah's Al Kuds force, which was commanded by its chief operations officer Imad Mughniyeh who was assassinated in Damascus in February. "The Hizbullah Brigades receive support from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command for financing, weapons, training and guidance," the Multi-National Force in Iraq said in a statement in response to a Jerusalem Post inquiry. "They have claimed responsibility for attacks against coalition forces and Iraqi Security Forces as early as late 2005." On videos that it has posted on the Internet, the Hizbullah Brigades group uses a logo very similar to the Lebanese Hizbullah flag, showing a raised arm holding a Kalashnikov assault rifle, although coalition forces said they were not sure of the nature of the relationship with the Lebanese Hizbullah. This is not the first time that Hizbullah operatives have been captured in Iraq. In July 2007, coalition forces apprehended Ali Mussa Daqduq, a senior Hizbullah leader and explosives expert, in Basra where he was reportedly training forces and even participated in several deadly attacks against US troops. Daqduq, a veteran of the Al-Kuds Force, was reportedly in Iraq to train and evaluate the performance of anti-US Shi'ite militias. Also Friday, Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, Hizbullah military commander in Southern Lebanon, told the Daily Telegraph that the group was stronger today than before the Second Lebanon War and was prepared for conflict with Israel. "The resistance is now stronger than before and this keeps the option of war awake," he told the paper. "If we were weak, Israel would not hesitate to start another war... We are stronger than before and when Hizbullah is strong, our strength stops Israel from starting a new war... We don't seek war, but we must be ready." Israel has claimed that since the war Hizbullah has tripled its missile arsenal and today has more than 30,000 rockets, some of which are capable of reaching almost anywhere within Israel and as far south as Dimona. Last week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and warned him that Security Council Resolution 1701 had collapsed and that UNIFIL was not effective in curbing Hizbullah's military build-up. "To our disappointment we are witnessing that over the past two years the number of missiles in Hizbullah's hands has doubled and maybe even tripled," Barak told Ban. "The ranges of the missiles have been extended and this is mainly due to close Syrian assistance."