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ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC JIHAD. Munazzamat al-Jihad al-Islami (or simply Jihad alIslam-1; the Organization of the Islamic Jihad) in Lebanon was formed out of Hizbullah (Party of God), which came into being in June 1982 in the town of Baalbek in the Bekaa (Biqa`) valley. The Islamic jihad organization was used by Hizbullah whenever it engaged in covert operations. To maintain that the Islamic jihad organization exists, however, does not mean that it has a separate structure from Hizbullah.

The Organization of the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for bombing the U.S. embassy on 18 April 1983 and the U.S. Marine headquarters of the Multinational Forces (MNF) and the headquarters of the French contigent of the MNF on 23 October 1983. It was also behind the kidnapping of American and European nationals in Lebanon, beginning with the abduction of the acting president of the American University of Beirut, David Dodge, in July 1982. Although Dodge was released in July 1983 and other hostages were released later, the wave of hostage taking continued unabated from March 1984 until February 1988. The last American hostage was released in December 1991.

These operations were integral to the strategy pursued by the patrons of the Organization of the Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah, namely, Syria and Iran. Syria has used the Organization of the Islamic Jihad to undermine Western influence in Lebanon and to dominate the country politically and militarily-an end achieved in June 1991. The continued barring of U.S. nationals from traveling to Lebanon is owed to the refusal of Syria to disarm Hizbullah and the fear that the Organization of the Islamic Jihad could resume the campaign of hostage taking against U.S. nationals. From its support of the organization, Iran has gained the arms-forhostages deals that were central to the Iran-Contra affair. Iran has also gained by having a foothold in Lebanon, which, despite the fact that it is not contiguous with Iran, has become its major sphere of influence.

The leadership of the Organization of the Islamic Jihad is basically identical to that of Hizbullah. Prominent leaders of the latter, like the late `Abbas alMusawi, have openly claimed some operations conducted by the organization as their very own. The use of violent means by the organization and by Hizbullah has served many purposes other than the interests of Syria and Iran. These operations have given the Organization of the Islamic Jihad a high profile and tremendous prestige in its ability to challenge the United States and the West in general. Its goal has been clearly spelled out by its statements-to establish an Islamic state in Lebanon. Despite this, its support is limited to a segment of the Shi’! community, which is a minority in Lebanon.

In respect to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Organization of the Islamic Jihad is close ideologically to the two factions of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization, which refuse any compromise and are more rejectionist than the Palestinian Hamas group (Harakat alMuqawamah al-Islamiyah; Movement of the Islamic Resistance). The Palestinian and Lebanese jihad organizations have organizational links with each other and often coordinate their activities with the same patrons of Hizbullah. This is especially true for the faction of the jihad organization led by Fathi Shiqaqi in Damascus.

[See also Hizbullah, article on Hizbullah in Lebanon; Hostages; and Lebanon.]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Deeb, Marius K. Militant Islamic Movements in Lebanon: Origins, Social Basis, and Ideology. Washington, D.C., 1986.

Deeb, Marius K. “Shi’a Movements in Lebanon: Their Formation, Ideology, Social Basis, and Links with Iran and Syria.” Third World Quarterly 10.2 (April 1988): 683-698.

Al-Harakah al-Islamiyah f1, Lubndn (The Islamic Movement in Lebanon). Beirut, 1984.

MARius K. DEEB

Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/organization-islamic-jihad/
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  • writerPosted On: June 23, 2017
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