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Exclusive: Hezbollah Using ‘Christian Cover’ to Penetrate the West?





W. Thomas Smith Jr.


 Published: April 17, 2008


Maronite Christian, parliamentarian, and former Lebanese Army commander, Gen. Michel Aoun, has reiterated his support for –and alliance with – Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based international terrorist army supported by Iran and Syria. Speaking earlier this week, Aoun said that his “Memorandum of Understanding (translation, “alliance”)” with Hezbollah is not only national, but international.


Though Aoun’s declaration – mentioned in some Lebanese media outlets and in the Iranian press – barely registered a blip in the Western media, the danger in this is far too weighty to dismiss, and America and the West (in particular the United Nations) need to fully understand what this means.


Hezbollah is attempting to use “a Christian cover [Aoun] to penetrate the West,” says Sami El-Khoury, president of the World Maronite Union. “The U.S. administration should add him to the designated terrorist list and withdraw the visas from all members of his bloc.”


Aoun, his Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) party, and Hezbollah came to terms in their formal “agreement” of political respect and cooperation in February 2006. The following month, the U.S.government designated Hezbollah’s Al-Manar Television as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity.” According to the provisions of the designation, Al-Manar’s assets in the U.S. were frozen, and all future transactions between Americans and Al-Manar were prohibited.


But Hezbollah, through Aoun, may have managed to find a way around the designation.


Several months after Al-Manar was placed on the State Department’s terrorist list, Aoun founded Orange TV (OTV), the now publicly-traded satellite-television company whose coverage extends around the world, including North America. And OTV’s footage and logo have since been broadcast as part of American newscasts (see Connecting the Dots: Is a Terrorist-Allied TV Company Infiltrating Our Media?).


We also have to consider the fact that Aoun frequently condemns the United States, and has issued veiled threats against us. In an interview last month on OTV, Aoun defended Syria and Hezbollah, and he said, “U.S. policy is against Lebanon and no one can convince me of the opposite. …We should defend ourselves against the American policy.” Aoun makes such statements as his signatory ally, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, continues to rally much of Lebanon’s Shiia population with public cries of “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!”


Moreover, sources are telling me Hezbollah has been providing military training to “Aoun’s people” in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.


As I’ve been reporting over the past several weeks, Hezbollah has been attempting to shore-up its myriad positions, political and otherwise, worldwide. Several Hezbollah “wet” operations, deadly operational-collaborations, or plots have been launched or thwarted around the world since January of this year.


Last month, I reported at


“Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, their sponsors and subsidiaries (to include their allies, apologists, and sympathizers) are increasingly working together throughout the Middle and Far East, in Africa, in Europe, and, yes, even the Americas to recruit foot soldiers, probe Western defenses, and attack us at any weak point in those defenses.”


John Hajjar, U.S. director for the pro-democracy World Council of the Cedars Revolution, says, “Aoun's declaration of collaboration with Hezbollah worldwide puts him in the ranks of a terrorism associate, and the U.S. must take strong measures against him and his militant network. U.S. officials should stop seeing him, and his visa and the visas of his party’s officials should be revoked.”

Najib Zwein, director of the Beirut-based Bureau Central de Coordination Nationale, agrees, adding, “Hezbollah is using Aoun to penetrate international and Western security.”

For the past two years, Aoun has served as a political tool for Hezbollah’s three-part goal of continuing to exist (when Hezbollah should have long been disbanded under UN mandate), continuing to strengthen its political base (while strengthening its military wing), and ultimately achieving an Islamic state in Lebanon. With Aoun’s statement this week, Shiia Hezbollah’s Christian soldier is now increasing his commitment to his terrorist-ally’s geostrategic objectives. Aoun knows it. Hezbollah knows it. And we had better figure it out.

# # contributing editor W. Thomas Smith Jr. is director of the Counterterrorism Research Center of the Family Security Foundation. A former U.S. Marine infantry leader and shipboard counterterrorism instructor, Smith writes about military/defense issues and has covered conflict in the Balkans, on the West Bank, in Iraq and Lebanon. He is the author of six books, and his articles have appeared in USA Today, George, U.S. News & World Report, BusinessWeek, National Review Online, CBS News,, The Washington Times, and others.
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