Islamic Jihad Organization

The Islamic Jihad Organization was the name used by telephone callers demanding the departure of all Americans from Lebanon and taking responsibility for a number of kidnappings and of bombings in Lebanon which killed several hundred people. There most attacks were the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing of French and U.S. MNF peacekeeping troops, and the April 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut.

Whether this Islamic Jihad was a "nom de guerre" used for terrorist activities by the Lebanese Shia Islamist political movement/party/militia/social services organization known as Hezbollah or something more varied and nebulous, is disputed.


Initially the group was described as "a mysterious group about which virtually nothing was known," [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage", Simon and Schuster, (2001), p.73] one whose "only members" seemed to be the "anonymous callers" taking credit for the bombings, or one that simply didn't exist. After the MNF bombing the New York Times reported that "Lebanese police sources, Western intelligence sources, Israeli Government sources and leading Shi'ite Moslem religious leaders in Beirut are all convinced that there is not such thing as Islamic Jihad," as an organziation, no membership, no writings, etc. ["New York Times", December 30, 1983, p.A6, "The Search for Evidence."] Journalist Robin Wright has described it as "more of an information network for a variety of cells of movements", rather than a centralized organization. [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage", Simon and Schuster, (2001), p.85] Not all of IJ's claims of responsibility were credible, as "in some cases, the callers seemed to be exploiting the activities of groups that had no apparent ties to Islamic Jihad," while working with some success to create "an aura of a single omnipotent force in the region." [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage", Simon and Schuster, (2001), p.86]

Wright has compared Islamic Jihad to the Black September wing of the Palestinian Fatah, [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage", Simon and Schuster, (2001), p.95] serving the function of providing its controlling organization, in this case Hezbollah, with some distance and plausible deniability from terrorist acts that might provoke retaliation or other problems.

Lebanese journalist Hala Jaber compared it to "a phony company which rents office space for a month and then vanishes," existing "only when it was committing an atrocity against its targets ..." [Hezbollah : Born with a vengeance by Hala Jaber, p.113] Adam Shatz of The Nation magazine has described Islamic Jihad as "a precursor to Hezbollah, which did not yet officially exist" at the time of the bombings Islamic Jihad took credit for.cite web|url=|title= In Search of Hezbollah|author=Adam Shatz|publisher=The New York Review of Books|date=April 29, 2004|accessdate=2006-08-14] Jeffrey Goldberg says

Using various names, including the Islamic Jihad Organization and the Organization of the Oppressed on Earth, Hezbollah remained underground until 1985, when it published a manifesto condemning the West, and proclaiming, “.... Allah is behind us supporting and protecting us while instilling fear in the hearts of our enemies.” [ [ In The Party Of God] Part I, By Jeffrey Goldberg, "The New Yorker," October 14, 2002]

A 2003 decision by an American court named Islamic Jihad as the name used by Hezbollah for its attacks in Lebanon, and parts of the Middle East, and Europe. [see also cite paper
title=Anne Dammarell et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran
author=Bates, John D. (Presiding)
date=September 2003
location=District of Columbia, U.S.
publisher=The United States District Court for the District of Columbia
accessdate= 2006-09-21
] Just as Hezbollah used another name Islamic Resistance, or "al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya," for its attacks against Israel. [Ranstorp, Hizb'allah" (1997), p.67]

By the mid-1980s Hizballah leaders are reported to have admitted their involvement in the attacks and the nominal nature of "Islamic Jihad" - that it was merely a `telephone organisation,` [Marius Deeb, Militant Islamic Movements in Lebanon: Origins, Social Basis, and Ideology, Occasional Paper Series (Washington, DC, Georgetown University, 1986) p.19] [al-Nahar, 7 September 1985] and [LaRevue du Liban, 27 July-3 August 1985] whose name was `used by those involved to disguise their true identity.` ["al-Nahar al-Arabi", 10 June] ["Ma'aretz", 16 December 1983] ["Le Point", 30 July 1987] ["al-Shira", 28 August 1988] ["Nouveau Magazine", 23 July 1988]

Some believe IJ is more a creature of the Islamic Republic of Iran than Lebanese Shia. Author Robert Baer describes it as the cover name used by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Pasdaran) for state sanctioned terrorist operations. Baer claims the order for 1983 US embassy bombing is widely believed to have originated high up in the Iranian Islamic Republic's hierarchy. [Baer, Robert. 2002. "See No Evil" Three Rivers Press, New York, New York.] Hala Jaber calls it a name "deliberately contrived by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and their recruits to cast confusion." [Hezbollah : Born with a vengeance by Hala Jaber, p.113] Wright is more circumspect, saying: "Islamic Jihad was clearly pro-Iranian in ideology, but some doubts existed among both Muslim moderates and Western diplomats about whether it was actually directed by Iran rather than home-grown." [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage", Simon and Schuster, (2001), p.85]

More recently authors such as researcher Robert A. Pape [Pape, Robert A., "Dying to Win : The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism" , Random House, 2005 p.129] and journalist Lawrence Wright [Wright, Lawrence, "Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11," by Lawrence Wright, NY, Knopf, 2006 ] have made no mention of Islamic Jihad and simply name Hezbollah as the author of Lebanese terror attacks claimed or attributed to Islamic Jihad.

From 1982 to 1986, Hezbollah conducted 36 suicide terrorist attacks involving a total of 41 attackers against American, French, and Israeli political and military targets in Lebanon ... Altogether, these attacks killed 659 people ... [Pape, Robert A., "Dying to Win : The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism" , Random House, 2005 p.129]


Bombings and assassinations

* 1982 May 24. Car bomb attack on French Embassy in Beirut killing 12 and wounding 27. Islam Jihad is one of several groups taking responsibility. Anger over France's providing of arms to Iran's enemy Iraq is thought to be the motivating factor. ["New York Times", April 19, 1983, 'Islamic Attacks Seen as Pro-Iranian", Hijazi, Ihsan, p.A12]

* 1983 April 18. Bombing of U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Detonated in a delivery van driven by a suicide bomber, carrying about 2000 pounds of explosives. The bomb killed 63 people, 17 of them Americans, including 9 CIA agent in Beirut for a meeting. [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage", Simon and Schuster, 2001, p.73, 15-16]

*1983 October 23. MNF barracks bombing in Beirut. Two truck bombs struck buildings in Beirut housing U.S. and French members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon, killing 241 American servicemen and 58 French paratroopers. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility in a statement to Agence France Presse: "We are the soldiers of God, ... We are neither Iranians, Syrian nor Palestinians, but Muslims who follow the precepts of the Koran ... We said after that [April embassy bombing] that we would strike more violently still. Now they understand with what they are dealing. Violence will remain our only way." [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage", Simon and Schuster, 2001, p.73]

*1983 December 12. 1983 Kuwait Bombing Two months after the Beirut barracks bombing. The 90-minute coordinated attack of six key foreign and Kuwaiti installations including two embassies, the airport and the countries main petro-chemical plant, was more notable for the damage it might have caused than what was actually destroyed. What might have been "the worst terrorist episode of the twentieth century in the Middle East," succeeding in killing only six people because of the bombs faulty rigging. [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage", Simon and Schuster, 2001, p.112]

*1984 January 18. Malcolm Kerr, president of the American University in Beirut (AUB), assassinated near his office. Had replaced AUB president David Dodge, who was kidnapped six months earlier. Described as "friendly," "easygoing," and a long "champion of the Arab cause," Kerr was born in Beirut and moved from the safety and comfort of UC Berkley to be president of the AUB. A telephone message claiming to represent Islamic Jihad proclaimed: "We are responsible of the assassination of the president of AUB ... We also vow that not a single American or French will remain on this soil. We shall take no different course. And we shall not waver." [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage", Simon and Schuster, 2001, p.101-2]

*1984 September 20. American Embassy Annex in Christian East Beirut is bombed by suicide van bomber with 3000 pounds of explosives. 14 were killed, including 2 Americans, dozens are injured. Embassy had moved to a "quiet residential suburb of hillside villas and luxury apartments" after the 1983 bombing. Ambassador Reginald Bartholomew and visiting British Ambassador David Miers are buried under rubble but rescued with only minor injuries. Islamic Jihad takes credit in an anonymous phone call vowing, "The operation comes to prove that we will carry out our previous promise not to allow a single American to remain on Lebanese soil. ... we mean every inch of Lebanese territory. ..." [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage", Simon and Schuster, 2001, p.107]

*1985, May 25. Attempted assassination of Kuwaiti ruler (Emir) Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, by suicide car bomber attack of the Emir's motorcade. Two bodyguards and a passerby are killed. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility and again demands the terrorists release. ["New York Times" May 26, 1985]

*1992 March 17. 1992 Israeli Embassy attack in Buenos Aires. A suicide truck bomber smashs into the front of the Israeli Embassy destroying the embassy, a Catholic church, and a nearby school building. 29 are killed and 242 wounded, mostly Argentianian civilians, many of them children. As of 2006 it remains the deadliest attack on an Israeli diplomatic mission. Islamic Jihad, claims responsibility, stating the attack was in retaliation for Israel's assassination of Hezbollah leader Sayed Abbas al-Musawi.

Claims of bombing

*1985 December 12. Arrow Air Flight 1285 taking off from Gander, Newfoundland, crashes and burns about half a mile from the runway, killing all 256 passengers and crew on board. In an anonymous caller to a French news agency in Beirut, Islamic Jihad claims it destroyed the plane to prove "our ability to strike at the Americans anywhere." [Watson, Laurie. "Errors By Crew Reportedly Cited In Gander Crash", "Philadelphia Inquirer", United Press International, November 6, 1988, pp. A33.] However an investigation by the Canadian Aviation Safety Board (CASB) finds the crash was most likely an accident.cite web|url=|title=Arrow Air Flight 1285 accident record|publisher=ASN] cite web|url=|title=CSB Majority Report]


*1984, March 16. William Francis Buckley, United States Central Intelligence Agency Beirut chief of station, was abducted on this date. Islamic Jihad Organization claims to have killed him on October 3, 1985. The Islamic Jihad Organization later released to a Beirut newspaper a photograph purporting to depict his corpse. Press reports stated that Buckley had been transferred to Iran, where he was tortured and killed. [ [ Lebanon, The Hostage Crisis] ]

*1984 May. Presbyterian minister Benjamin Weir is kidnapped by three armed men. Weir may have thought he was safe from harm from Muslims because he lived in Shiite West Beirut working "closely with various Muslim-oriented charity and relief groups," and had lived in Lebanon since 1958. Two days after his abduction, a telephone message claimed: "Islamic Jihad organization claims it is responsible for the abduction ... in order to renew our acceptance of Reagan's challenge [to fight "state terrorism"] and to confirm our commitment of the statement ... that we will not leave any American on Lebanese soil." [Wright, Robin, "Sacred Rage", Simon and Schuster, 2001, p.101,2,4]

*1986, February 10. The Islamic Jihad Organization released a photograph that claimed to show the (dead) body of French citizen Michel Seurat, who had been kidnapped earlier. [ [ Lebanon, The Hostage Crisis] ]


ee also

*Islamic Terrorism

External links

* [ Professional Terrorism: The Islamic Jihad Organization,]

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