Islamic Jihad Organization

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Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO)
Participant in Lebanese civil war (1975–1990)
Activeearly 1983–1992
Leaders Imad Mughniyah [1]
Headquarters Beirut, Baalbek
Size200 fighters
Allies Iranian Revolutionary Guards
InfoboxHez.PNG  Hezbollah under Subhi al-Tufayli
Amal Movement
Opponent(s) Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
South Lebanon Army (SLA)
Multinational Force in Lebanon (MNF)

The Islamic Jihad Organization – IJO (Arabic : حركة الجهاد الإسلامي, Harakat al-Jihad al-Islami) or Organisation du Jihad Islamique (OJI) in French, but best known as "Islamic Jihad" (Arabic: Jihad al-Islami) for short, was a Shia [2] militia known for its activities in the 1980s during the Lebanese Civil War. They demanded the departure of all Americans from Lebanon and took responsibility for a number of kidnappings, assassinations, and bombings of embassies and peacekeeping troops which killed several hundred people. Their deadliest attacks were in 1983, when they carried out the bombing of the barracks of French and U.S. MNF peacekeeping troops, and that of the United States embassy in Beirut.



Possibly formed in early 1983 and reportedly led by Imad Mughniyah, a former Lebanese Shi'ite member of Palestinian Fatah's Force 17, the IJO was not a militia but rather a typical underground urban guerrilla organization. [3] Based at Baalbek in the Beqaa valley, the group aligned 200 Lebanese Shi'ite militants financed by Iran and trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' contingent previously sent by Ayatollah Khomeini to fight the June 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.[ citation needed ] However, senior Iranian officials denied the alleged connections. For instance, Mehdi Karroubi claimed that Iran had not been related to the group. [4]


Initially the group was described as "a mysterious group about which virtually nothing was known," [5] 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 no such thing as Islamic Jihad," as an organization, no membership, no writings, etc. [6] Journalist Robin Wright has described it as "more of an information network for a variety of cells of movements", rather than a centralized organization. [7] 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." [8]

Wright has compared Islamic Jihad to the Black September wing of the Palestinian Fatah, [9] serving the function of providing its controlling organization, in this case Hezbollah, with some distance and plausible deniability from 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 ..." [10]

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. [11] 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." [12]

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. [13] In the same way, Hezbollah had used the name "Islamic Resistance" (al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya) in its attacks against Israel. [14]

By the mid-1980s Hezbollah 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," [15] [16] and [17] whose name was "used by those involved to disguise their true identity." [18] [19] [20] [21] [22]

Former CIA operative and author Robert Baer describes it as the cover name used by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Pasdaran). Baer claims the order for 1983 US embassy bombing is widely believed to have originated high up in the Iranian Islamic Republic's hierarchy. [23] According to Baer it is "a very distinct organization, which was separate from Hezbollah because you had the [Hezbollah] consultative council which only had a vague idea of what the hostage-takers were doing." [24]

Hala Jaber calls it a name "deliberately contrived by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and their recruits to cast confusion." [10] 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." [7]

More recently authors such as researcher Robert A. Pape [25] and journalist Lawrence Wright [26] 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 ... [25]


Bombings and assassinations

Claims of bombing


Decline and demise 1986–1992

The IJO suffered a setback in 1986 when their temporary abduction of four Soviet diplomats carried out previously on September 1985 ended up in the assassination of one hostage. The KGB promptly retaliated with intimidation and by pressuring Syria to stop its operations in northern Lebanon in exchange for release of the remaining three hostages. [43] This fiasco, coupled by the pressure resulting from tighter security measures and joint anti-militia sweeps implemented by the Syrian Army, the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) and the Shi'ite Amal militia at the Shia quarters of West Beirut in 1987–88, brought a steady decline in the organization's activities in Lebanon for the rest of the civil war.

The last recorded attack claimed by the IJO as an independent group took place outside the Middle East in March 1992, when the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was blown up in retaliation for Israel's assassination of Hezbollah's secretary-general Abbas al-Musawi in February that year. [44] [36] [45]

This organization is no longer active. Some reports indicate that they merged with Hezbollah afterwards, with their leader Imad Mughniyah appointed as head of that party's overseas security apparatus. [46] [47]

See also

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