August 4, 2006
By Dale Hurd
CBNNews.com (CBN News) - The leader of Hezbollah has declared America the enemy. Many Arabs and Muslims in America openly support Hezbollah.
Is this treason?
Is this a potential threat to our safety?
Several thousand people marched through the Detroit suburb of Dearborn a few weeks ago, chanting "Hezbollah" and holding up photos of Hezbollah leader Sheik Nasrallah and posters comparing President Bush to Hitler.
Similar protests took place in San Francisco, New York, and other cities.
The U.S. government calls Hezbollah a terrorist organization, but don't tell that to these Americans.
Osama Siblani publishes the Arab-American News, the largest Arab-American newspaper in the United States. He said, “No, They are not terrorists. Absolutely not. No. They are freedom fighters.”
He told the Chicago Tribune that if the FBI wants to go after Hezbollah supporters in Dearborn, "…they better bring a fleet of buses. I, for one, would be willing to go to jail."
Hezbollah is an Iranian creation, and although it has a measure of independence, it's considered Iran's proxy army in southern Lebanon. As many as 15,000 of Dearborn's Arabs come from the Hezbollah stronghold of Bint Jbeil, Lebanon.
In fact, the current mayor in Bint Jbeil, Haj Ali Bazzi, is from Dearborn. He has an American passport and a Michigan driver’s license.
The dominant Islamic leader in Dearborn is Mohammed Ali Elahi, an Iranian-American whose Web site displays photos of Elahi with Hezbollah spiritual leader Sheikh Fadlallah and former Iranian President Rafsanjani, who once suggested nuking Israel.
He spoke with CBN News terrorism expert Erick Stackelbeck.
“We need to have another interview,” said Elahi, “of talking about Hezbollah whether that is a terrorist organization or not. I know that, legally, in the U.S. now, Hezbollah is on that list. And whether we agree with the law or disagree, we have to follow the law of the land.”
Before 9-11, Hezbollah killed more Americans than any other terrorist group: 300 murdered in six separate attacks, including 243 Marines in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing. Now, with America's building confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program, the New York Post reports that Hezbollah is prepared to activate terrorist sleeper cells in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Detroit.
No less than nine Federal prosecutors are investigating Hezbollah ties in the Detroit area alone. And the FBI has issued a nationwide alert for local and state police to be vigilant in investigating Hezbollah sympathizers.
Barbara Newman, a former investigative producer for ABC news, is co-author of Lightning Out of Lebanon: Hezbollah Terrorists on American Soil.
Newman said, "Hezbollah makes al-Qaeda look like Sunday-schoolers. They're the best light infantry in the world, and they're dangerous, and they're all over America.”
"It's an army that was started in 1982 by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards,” Newman explained. “And they wanted to impose the same type of regime on Lebanon as they have in Iran. They're a mortal enemy of the West and of democracy."
Hezbollah fighters have also already fought the United States in Iraq, and Newman says it’s building improvised explosive devices that kill GIs.
"The FBI just told me that Hezbollah is making the most advanced ones that are coming into play. Plus, they're training. They have offices there. It's not widely known," she said.
Arab and Muslim Americans who support Hezbollah have expressed anger that their patriotism is being questioned. But critics wonder how it's possible to support both Hezbollah and the United States.