Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Lebanon - Hunting for Hezbollah -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

(generated from captions) in Jerusalem. Hello. I'm David Hardaker

was plunged into crisis yet again 12 months ago, the Middle East went to war for 33 days. when Hezbollah and Israel a lot of soul-searching here Since then, there's been into how Israel conducted its war, its two captured soldiers why it failed to get back and why it couldn't stop Hezbollah into the north of Israel. from firing Katyusha rockets For its part, conducting a determined campaign this year Hezbollah has been the Lebanese government. to destabilise But Hezbollah had been re-arming, as the BBC's Darius Bazargan reports. and my driver is taking sides. Lebanon is sliding into an abyss As things fall apart,

and preparing for war. ordinary people are buying guns he asked for AK-47 machine gun. First one he called, So, we got him that. he wants 200 rounds. he wants extra clips. Then he called back he want a handgun. 30 minutes later he calls, he'll call and ask for an RPG. I guess an hour later People are panicking. is a civil war, The last thing this country needs but for men like Dawoud, a business opportunity. the chaos represents high-powered pistol. This is a Colt .45 It's brand new in the box. give it to that guy. So, we are going to right and left. People are buying guns

to meet Hezbollah - I'd come to Beirut 'Party of God'. the secretive Shia Muslim this ceremony - Ashura. They let me in to film for Imam Hussein, their leader, These people are crying over 1,200 years ago. killed in battle at the heart of the Shia faith. Martyrdom and sacrifice are to understanding Hezbollah. It seemed key for Hezbollah supporters, But if the past is a source of grief equally bleak. the future's looking

one of their 14 MPs. I went to visit were buying weapons. He denied their supporters and to all Lebanese Civil war is bad to all Lebanon nobody can win a war. and, in Lebanon, and in Bekhar and even the south, I can assure you that in Dahiyeh nobody is buying arms we do not want to go into civil war because we are telling them that to...to...to kill Lebanese people, and we will never use our arms that nobody is buying arms. so I can assure you That night I travelled across town. were saying, Whatever the leadership were readily available. Dawoud maintained weapons what was really going on. He promised to show me That's a nice, good one right here. Come look at this. the situation is deteriorating He's saying that very, very terribly fast right now. for sale to other Shia. These weapons were that, across the country, But rumour had it secretly preparing for war. every community was That's what I want and like. Oh, man. former civil war militiamen. This group were on Hezbollah's payroll. Nowadays, they're in that thing, man. Man, he put a grenade Man, what if it goes off? One mistake and we're all dead here. but in his spare time, He's a Hezbollah guy, and sell it to friend of his - he buy some weapon

who needs weapons - people who he knows, he sell it to them, no problem. had tripled I was told the price of guns since the political crisis began. Still brand new in boxes. This is AK-47 ammo. the Russian made - This one of the best ones, 'Circle 11' they call it. in this room right here. This is the best one This is the elite one right here. King War! the king of the war! This is the king right here - of AK-47s right here. This is the Cadillac

JOURNALIST: Why is that one so good? the Jews in southern Lebanon. This is the one that defeated That's right!

into the city's dark underbelly. Dawoud was plugged straight Though not remotely religious, he was a Hezbollah supporter. Maybe he could open doors to their secret world? I know lots of friends in Hezbollah, sure. They're honest, they're truthful, very religious, ordinary people. But they focus on one thing - there's an enemy and we have to fight this enemy.

Israel is an enemy and we have to fight it. Israel are occupying our land. We will resist. Hezbollah started as a guerrilla group, resisting Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon. Today, it's the country's biggest political party. But unlike the others, Hezbollah runs its own army. Backed by Iran and Syria, it's more powerful than Lebanon's regular forces. Washington is worried. In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah -

a group second only to al-Qaeda in the American lives it has taken. They and others blame Hezbollah for a string of bombings and kidnappings in the 1980s. Or you're with us or you're against us - that's the American policy in the Middle East.

Well, I can assure you my people are against them.

We think they are the terrorists. We think they are the murderers. We think they are the killers. So, it's OK for Israel to get funded and to get the help and to get $10 billion a year from America?

Is that, that's good, to kill us and kill our kids in Lebanon? But it's bad for us to get money from Iran to fight back? Does that make sense? Last summer, Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers. A vicious 34-day war followed. Israel wanted to wipe them out, but Hezbollah survived - a humiliation for Israel's supposedly all-powerful army.

The Party of God became heroes across the Muslim world - one-quarter of Lebanon's population joined the celebrations. So, what's the secret of Hezbollah's appeal? Their leader Hassan Nasrallah is himself a huge draw. To us, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is our icon. He is the man we trust, he's the man we believe, because the truth in this country comes from his mouth only. And if you liked the speech, why not buy the T-shirt? This is Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's picture printed on a shirt. This lighter, right here, it is made in a way that every time you push this button right here, Hassan Nasrallah's picture comes out. It shows on whatever surface you aim. It's so popular around here everybody's buying it. Hezbollah run their own satellite TV channel. Al-Manar is the self-proclaimed voice of the resistance. Among the news, chat shows and children's programs are militant propaganda videos, designed to keep people mobilised for the endless struggle against Israel.

When the war started, the Israelis tried to bomb it off air. They failed. Dawoud is certainly on message, but he told me he wasn't part of Hezbollah's military wing or even an official party member. Not everyone is a soldier with Hezbollah. They are very selective who they take in their resistance. And a guy like me? I don't think they let me in. Yes, I am a Muslim - yes, I am a Shia Muslim. I'm not too involved in religion - the truth is I'm not.

I might go out and have a drink or go out to a party, but when it comes down to it,

to take care of business you definitely... ..you will see me with Hezbollah side by side. Of course. 'Taking care of business' meaning

'armed and ready to defend his neighbourhood 'against the Israelis or anyone else.' But unlike some civilians with a vast arsenal at home, Dawoud considers himself responsible. JOURNALIST: What have you got here? These are grenades right here. I keep them away from the house in case someone visit me and got some kids or something like that. I don't want them to play with it. So...so, that's what I use in case of emergency. Grenades always important in a street fight.

Most of the people here in Dahiyeh got all these things right here you're looking at. It's part of life here in Dahiyeh. The Dahiyeh is Dawoud's neighbourhood - the southern suburbs of Beirut. Like most Shia areas, it's poor, neglected and was heavily bombed in the war. Jihad al-Bina is Hezbollah's construction company. They've pledged to completely rebuild the area and have already handed out over $300 million in cash to homeless civilians. Much of that money is believed to have come from Iran. Hezbollah also run schools, hospitals and other projects in deprived Shia districts. It all helps to keep their supporters onside. JOURNALIST: Don't you feel a bit bad? Your house got bashed up because of what they did. Well, yes, I do, but they did pay money for us to relocate, until they build my new house, which they will. You sure of that? Absolutely. Hassan Nasrallah, when he say it, he'll do it. However, Nasrallah has also pledged to bring down the Lebanese government. OK, this is the tent city. That's where the protesters sleep and live around the clock and they will not move or remove the tents until their demands be met. Hezbollah and their allies want fresh elections, accusing the US-backed government with Israel. of corruption and complicity is a tool of Iran and Syria. The government side say Hezbollah and many fear The country is split down the middle,

push Lebanon into a civil war. foreign agendas could once again We left Beirut behind of southern Lebanon. and headed for the Shia heartlands To really understand Hezbollah, where the movement was born. I needed to see years of Israeli occupation, People here experienced thousands were maimed or killed. and in last year's war to see this lady. Now, we are on our way in combat during the summer - Her son got martyred against the Israelis. the war Hezbollah I passed through In every town and village dead fighters. were posters glorifying Down south, for hearts and minds years ago. the Party of God won the battle Ghada Haj Ali is 40 years' old. She encouraged her 18-year-old son Ibrahim to join Hezbollah.

firing Katyusha rockets into Israel. He was killed last summer She has no regrets. Well, what she's saying here - by Western standards "Yeah, maybe I lost everything

in material things. "because they believe "Material things mean nothing to us. "What means to us is God's blessing. They will rebuild it for me. "My house got destroyed! So what? rebuild it for me. "My business destroyed - they'll he's alive. "My son dead - no, he's not dead, I can hear him, I can smell him. "He's alive in heaven. Alive. "He knows we are here right now." and that, to her, it's a victory. Her son got martyred They're in college. She have two sons right now. in the resistance right now. They are not and there's a need, But when time comes she will go personally too. not only her sons will go, That's what it takes. such a tough organisation. I can see why Hezbollah is look at their women. Even the women -

into combat, They send their kids to war with Israel. they send their sons to be martyred by Israel. They don't mind defending the land. They believe they are It's worth dying for. Since the war ended, peacekeepers have moved in over 10,000 United Nations to back up the Lebanese army between Hezbollah and Israel. and act as a buffer openly carrying weapons, re-arming, The UN are here to prevent Hezbollah Israeli troops, or directly confronting like these patrolling the border. Hezbollah territory. But this is clearly still Hezbollah flags. These yellow flags are fighters They've been put up by Hezbollah

the UN, the Israeli, whoever - just to show the people - and they are in control. they are still here Critics, especially in Israel, say

Hezbollah's alleged re-armament - the UN aren't doing enough to stop something they deny. the conflicts, the intensity, When you consider and you look today, would regard it as remarkably calm. then I think most observers The situation is still tense, armed insurgents but, really, we don't see any evidence of weapons and we don't see coming into our area of operations. with an Italian patrol. I went out on a roadblock While I was there, or searched for guns. not a single vehicle was stopped is a tricky business. But hunting for Hezbollah with their secret military bunkers. South Lebanon is supposedly riddled difficult to find. They're notoriously But, then, suddenly, we got lucky - leading deep into the darkness. a hidden entrance since the war. No-one's filmed in one of these under the mountain. It goes all the way around surveillance technology, Despite all Israel's in total secrecy. bunkers like this were built such a thing under the mountain? Who will ever think there's Deep underground, weeks of Israeli bombardment Hezbollah fighters could sit out hiding in places like this. Unbelievable. JOURNALIST: What was this room? It looks like a bedroom There's a shower in there. This is the bathroom. the shower area. And a shower...this is They even have a sink. This is the kitchen area. hot water, running water, These guys had it all - electricity, kitchen, sink, bathroom, shower. It's a home away from home. We pressed on. Our target was Bint Jbeil - 'Capital of Resistance' in the south, Hezbollah's so-called from the Israeli border. just two miles like a Hezbollah theme park, The town looks a bit of the war took place here. but one of the fiercest battles And it shows. after all this destruction, After all what you see, believe it or not, single inch of this city right here. Israeli soldiers could not take one

a local commander, Haj Hussein. I'd come down south to meet speak to journalists. Hezbollah fighters never usually Fearing Israeli assassination, he wouldn't face the camera. Haj Hussein lost many fighters in the pitched battles in the south, but he said war and sacrifice are just a part of life here. We have a belief since we were young kids - we ask, "What this red flower? How these red flowers come?" So they be telling us - "This is land of martyrs. "This is the land that drink the blood of the martyrs.

"Flowers grow in it." Haj Hussein said the UN presence hadn't removed Hezbollah, merely pushed it underground. "It doesn't matter how long the UN stays here. Hezbollah fighters. "They will never see are not for show. "Hezbollah fighters during the war, on a mission only. "They use guns, during combat, secrecy, mainly on secrecy." "It's not for show. They depend on And then he confirmed the rumours - and ready for war. Hezbollah was re-arming What he's saying here? are ready more than ever "Yes, Hezbollah and the resistance "and stronger than before. more advanced weapon right now. "There is bringing in weapons "Hezbollah definitely "but nobody knows where from." Haj Hussein left. for some military training in Iran. The next day, he was flying off the arms dealers once again. Back in Beirut I went to meet across the Middle East I'd heard guns were coming in from a 'special' weapon I'd want to see. and Dawoud told me there was Do this just to satisfy everyone. Take a picture of the kid. Go ahead. The child was holding an M4 rifle - in the US military's arsenal. one of the latest models on the streets of south Beirut? So, what was it doing about something really sweet! Oh, man! You are talking It wasn't sweet. this whole scene deeply disturbing. I found everything about This gun, for fact, for sure, came from Iraq - belonged to an American soldier, got killed, they took his weapon, sold it to a local dealer, and that local gun dealer smuggled it to Lebanon. The fact is there's a lot of weapons coming from Iraq to Lebanon, right now, today. The asking price for this one gun was $10,500, and this had created its own gory dynamic. He's saying some of the Iraqi groups right now, they don't care about the political reason why the Iraqis, why the Americans are there, or the situation. All they are worried about - they want their weapons. They want to take their weapons and sell it. The gun was stamped 'Property of the US Government'. I contacted the American military in Baghdad but, citing operational security, they wouldn't confirm the weapon's history. I'd been planning a trip into the mountains, just north of the UN-controlled zone. I'd heard Hezbollah were preparing new missile bases. If true, they could fire longer-range rockets into Israel, over the heads of the peacekeepers.

Across the area were blocked roads, construction equipment and evidence of widespread digging, but no new buildings. Were Hezbollah making some more underground bunkers?

You don't need to be a genius to figure this out.

Look at these valleys -

big, large, wide area digged up from top to bottom. They are everywhere around this area. They are all over the place. You don't see them - they see you. New roads had been cut through the mountains,

and I wanted to take a look. There's some kind of site here.

Man, they are making their way deep in the mountains right there. Oh, shit! We'd stumbled across a Hezbollah military base, and Dawoud panicked. Hezbollah training camp, man. Yeah. JOURNALIST: Is it? Yep. It says 'Do Not Enter'. It's not allowed to enter to anyone. Hezbollah, if you feel like to get interrogated for three days. Let's go back. Careful of that guy coming. But it was clear I'd pushed our luck too far. Put it down. Too late. We were detained and questioned by a Hezbollah patrol. Luckily, they didn't find my tapes. They said we'd been caught in a restricted security zone. Incredibly, as they let us go, they told me Hezbollah weren't building bunkers at all. They were, in fact, moving into fruit production. That was a close call. These guys talking - one minute, he talked about strict military zone. And, the next minute, he talked about

they are making a big project to grow nectarines. So, phew! JOURNALIST: Do you think they are growing nectarines? Of course they're not growing nectarines. If they are growing nectarines why they kindly arrested us, questioned us? Oh, let's go this way. That way is not good. We don't want to get stopped again. Back in Beirut, it was time to reflect. Hezbollah stand smack in the way of America's plans for the Middle East, but they say they're ready for another war with Israel. For the Israelis to win in this country or to defeat Hezbollah, they have to kill all the Shia people in this country, basically.

Because we will fight to the last drop of blood. Whatever happens next in Lebanon, I'd come to realise the group's real strength is neither military nor political - it's psychological. They've grafted their militant ideology on to the hearts and minds of all these people. Thus equipped, the Party of God stand ready to fight the long war. (Crowd shouts)