Tuesday, April 23rd | 18 Nisan 5779

April 30, 2017 12:29 pm

The New York Times Whitewashes Hezbollah Terrorism

avatar by Ira Stoll

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The Hezbollah flag. Photo: Wikipedia.

Twice in the past two days, the New York Times has identified the terrorist group Hezbollah as a “militant group.”

“Militant” is a euphemism, a word the Times is using as a way to flinch from calling the group what it actually is, which is a terrorist group.

A news article in the April 27 issue of the paper, by the Times Jerusalem bureau chief, Ian Fisher, begins,Syrian and rebel officials blamed Israel for several explosions Thursday morning at warehouses near the Damascus airport that the Israeli news media said were housing weapons bound for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.”

A news article in the April 28 New York Times, looking back at President Trump’s “100 Days on the World Stage,” used similar language. It reported, “some in Lebanon fear that Mr. Trump will give Israel a green light to attack the militant group Hezbollah as a way to hit its patron Iran.”

Well, some in Lebanon may “fear” that, but some in America may hope for it. If so, it’s because those Americans, unlike the Times editors and reporters, comprehend that Hezbollah isn’t a mere “militant group,” but is actually a blood-drenched terrorist group.

As a New York Sun editorial from 2002 put it:

Hezbollah has American blood on its hands. It is a terrorist organization with global reach. According to the State Department’s latest report on global terrorism, Hezbollah is “Known or suspected to have been involved in numerous anti-US and anti-Israeli terrorist attacks, including the suicide truck bombings of the US Embassy and US Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the US Embassy annex in Beirut in September 1984.” The report says, “Three members of Hizballah – ‘Imad Mughniyah, Hasan Izz-al-Din, and Ali Atwa – are on the FBI’s list of 22 Most-Wanted Terrorists for the hijacking in 1985 of TWA Flight 847 during which a US Navy diver was murdered. Elements of the group were responsible for the kidnapping and detention of US and other Westerners in Lebanon in the 1980s. Hizballah also attacked the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992 and the Israeli cultural center in Buenos Aires in 1994.”

…A Hezbollah statement in 1992 vowed, “It is an open war until the elimination of Israel and until the death of the last Jew on earth.” In 2002, [Hezbollah’s leader] Sheik Nasrallah was quoted by the Lebanon Daily Star as encouraging Jews to move to Israel. “If they all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide,” he was quoted as saying.

Nor is this old news, or just the New York Sun’s opinion. On April 28, 2015, when President Obama and his secretary of state John Kerry were in power, the State Department named three Hezbollah operatives as “specially designated global terrorists.”

According to the State Department release:

On July 18, 2012, a bombing at the airport in Burgas, Bulgaria killed six people, including five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian citizen. In July 2013, Meliad Farah and Hassan el-Hajj Hassan were publicly identified as key suspects in the bombing, which has been attributed to Hizballah, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Both are believed to be located in Lebanon.

Hussein Atris is a member of Hizballah’s overseas terrorism unit. In 2012, Atris was arrested in Thailand in connection with a terror warning about a possible attack in Bangkok. Atris was found to be hiding nearly three tons of ammonium nitrate, a component in the manufacture of explosives. In 2013, a Thai court sentenced Atris to two years and eight months in prison for illegally possessing the materials. He was released in September 2014, and traveled to Sweden and later Lebanon, where he is believed to be located currently.

On January 9, 2017, in the waning days of the Obama administration, the Kerry State Department named two more Hezbollah terrorists:

Ali Damush is a senior leader of Hizballah, a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), and an aide to its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). Damush leads Hizballah’s Foreign Relations Department, which engages in covert terrorist operations around the world on behalf of Hizballah, including recruiting terrorist operatives and gathering intelligence.

Mustafa Mughniyeh is a commander in Hizballah. He is the nephew of the terrorist group’s previous military commander Mustafa Badreddine and the son of the notorious Hizballah military commander Imad Mughniyeh. Mustafa Mughniyeh once led Hizballah’s operations in the Golan Heights, helping organize the group’s terrorist infrastructure.

The imposition of sanctions by the United States against terrorists like Damush and Mughniyeh is a powerful tool. Today’s action notifies the U.S. public and the international community that Ali Damush and Mustafa Mughniyeh are actively engaged in terrorism.

If the Times really wants to be picky about not seeming to take sides, it could write something like, “Hezbollah, which Israel and the US government consider a terrorist group but the New York Times insists is merely a militant group.” But soft-pedaling the term “terrorist” or dancing around avoiding it just makes the Times itself look ridiculous. If Hezbollah were just targeting US or Israeli military targets that would be one thing. But the group goes after commercial airliners and Jewish civilians abroad, according to the US State Department. If that doesn’t amount to terrorism in the New York Times’ view, it’s hard to imagine what does.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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