Fast Facts: Hezbollah

What is Hezbollah?

Hezbollah, which means "party of God," is a Lebanese umbrella organization of radical Islamic Shiite groups and organizations. The group opposes the West and seeks to create a Muslim fundamentalist state modeled on Iran.

Hezbollah is believed responsible for nearly 200 attacks since 1982 which have killed more than 800 people.

What are Hezbollah's origins?

Hezbollah was founded in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. It has close links to Iran and Syria.

Where does Hezbollah operate?

Hezbollah's base is in Lebanon's Shiite-dominated areas, including parts of Beirut, southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley. U.S. intelligence reports say that Hezbollah cells operate in Europe, Africa, South America and North America.

In 2000, Israel withdrew from Lebanon. Hezbollah periodically shells Israeli forces in the disputed Shebaa Farms border zone. Hezbollah has also carried out attacks outside the Middle East.

In 2002, Singapore accused Hezbollah of recruiting Singaporeans in a failed 1990s plot to attack U.S. and Israeli ships in the Singapore Straits.

How big is Hezbollah?

Hezbollah consists of several thousand militants and activists, the U.S. government estimates.

What major attacks is Hezbollah responsible for?

Hezbollah is linked to:

—a series of kidnappings of Westerners in Lebanon, including several Americans, in the 1980s.

—truck bombings that killed more than 200 U.S. Marines at their barracks in Beirut in 1983.

—the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847.

—1990s attacks on Jewish targets in Argentina.

—the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy (killing 29).

—the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center (killing 95).

Does Hezbollah play an active role in the Lebanese politics?

After the 2005 elections, Hezbollah won eight new seats, giving the group 23 seats in the 128-member Lebanese Parliament.

Hezbollah has two ministers in the government, and a third is endorsed by the group.

Source: Council on Foreign Relations