Lebanon : Hezbollah [Hizbollah, Hizbullah, Hizballah, the Party of God], including political participation and representation, military activities and areas under control; recruitment practices, including forced recruitment and consequences for those who refuse to join; whether Hezbollah targets any segments of society for recruitment, including Shia [Shi'a, Shi'i, Shiite] youth and Lebanese citizens returning from abroad; ability to locate an individual in the country; state protection available (2020–August 2022) [LBN201146.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

1. Overview

Sources indicate that Hezbollah is a Shia political party and militant group (CFR 25 May 2020; Encyclopaedia Britannica 20 Aug. 2020; Stanford University July 2019, 1). Sources also report that the group was formed during the Lebanese civil war (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2022, 5; CFR 25 May 2022; Encyclopaedia Britannica 20 Aug. 2020). More specifically, sources indicate that the group was formed following Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 (Chatham House 11 Aug. 2021; Encyclopaedia Britannica 20 Aug. 2020). Citing media, academic and US government sources, Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), a research center at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies whose "Mapping Militants Project" was developed to trace "the evolution of militant organizations" (Stanford University n.d.), states that Hezbollah was formed from Islamic Amal, a "more militant" splinter group of the Amal movement, another Shia militia group that had emerged during the Lebanese civil war (Stanford University July 2019, 2).

Sources also note that Hezbollah is commonly seen as "a state within a state" (CFR 25 May 2020; Independent consultant 27 July 2022; Professor 12 Aug. 2022), due to its "extensive security apparatus, political organization, and social services network" (CFR 25 May 2022). The Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy organization in Washington, DC (Brookings Institution n.d.), notes that the group is more aptly defined as a "'state within a non-state'," given the "sheer inability" of Lebanese state authorities to provide basic services to their citizens (Brookings Institution 19 Nov. 2021). Citing Eitan Azani, a Colonel (Res.) in the Israeli Defense Forces and Head of the Counter Terrorism and Homeland Security Program at Reichman University in Herzliya, Israel (Reichman University n.d.), CISAC indicates that Hezbollah is now a "hybrid organization woven into the structure of Lebanese society," through its militant activities abroad and domestically, as well as its provision of social services, which CISAC notes includes infrastructure construction and healthcare (Stanford University July 2019, 2, 3). Similarly, the Brookings Institution also reports that the group's "hybrid status" allows for both an "autonomous existence" vis-à-vis the state, freeing it from "any accountability or even visibility into its own actions," and an ability to "exercis[e] a veto over anything the Lebanese government does" (Brookings Institution 19 Nov. 2021).

Sources report that the group provides social, health and educational services, including a youth program resembling the Scouts (Brookings Institution 19 Nov. 2021; PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022; Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). Sources also state that Hezbollah launched a television station, Al-Manar (Stanford University July 2019, 10; Wilson Center 13 July 2022).

According to Public Safety Canada, Hezbollah is "[o]ne of the most technically capable terrorist groups in the world" (Canada 4 June 2021). The US Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2021 describes Hezbollah as an "armed nonstate actor" and "foreign terrorist organization" that conducts extrajudicial arrests and detention, including "incommunicado detention"; in 2021, the organization "reportedly" operated "unofficial" detention centres (US 12 Apr. 2022, 5, 6). Bertelsmann Stiftung's Transformation Index (BTI) 2022, which "assesses the transformation toward democracy and a market economy as well as the quality of governance in 137 countries," specifies that Hezbollah is at once the "most powerful" of "para-state actors" in the "complex institutional structure of the Lebanese security forces" and a "major actor of the ruling regime," notwithstanding its official status as an NGO (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2022, 2, 7).

1.1 Ideology

According to sources, Hezbollah's ideology is based on opposition and resistance to Israel's and Western countries' influence in the Middle East (CFR 25 May 2022; Stanford University July 2019, 2). Sources also indicate that the party derives ideological inspiration from Iran's Islamic revolution (Canada 4 June 2021; Professor 12 Aug. 2022). Sources further specify that Hezbollah's ideology is "linked to and inspired by" (TWI 18 May 2022) or "rooted in" (Professor 12 Aug. 2022) the doctrine of Iran's Supreme Leader (Professor 12 Aug. 2022; TWI 18 May 2022). In an interview with the Research Directorate, an independent consultant whose research focuses on Shia armed groups in Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon, and who has authored a book as well as several articles on Hezbollah's activities and ideology, stated that Hezbollah's recruitment and funding activities serve the objective of "maintaining a deterrent against Israel" (Independent consultant 27 July 2022).

1.2 Organizational Structure and Leadership

Sources report that Hassan Nasrallah is the secretary general of Hezbollah (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2022, 15; Stanford University July 2019, 6). Sources also indicate that Naim Qassem is the group's deputy secretary general (UANI Jan. 2019) or its deputy chief (Stanford University July 2019, 6). According to sources, the group is also headed by a Shura [Consultative (UANI Jan. 2019)] Council, which includes a panel of seven members (UANI Jan. 2019; Stanford University July 2019, 5), and five sub-councils (UANI Jan. 2019). Sources note that the sub-councils are as follows: executive, judicial, parliamentary, political and jihad (UANI Jan. 2019; CFR 25 May 2022). According to CISAC, the sub-councils address issues of ideology, finances, policy, military affairs, social affairs, and legal affairs (Stanford University July 2019, 5). Sources note that there is "little" information on Hezbollah's military command structure, as a result of "the group's emphasis on security and secrecy" (Stanford University July 2019, 6) or that Hezbollah is "largely secretive," making it "difficult" to confirm information regarding its military membership, for instance (AP 18 Oct. 2021).

2. Political Participation and Representation

BTI 2022 reports that "all" of the main sectarian political parties, including Hezbollah, "attempt to bind their constituency through clientelist practices rather than political programs" (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2022, 15). Chatham House, a policy institute based in London (Khatib 30 June 2021, i), similarly indicates that Lebanon's "ruling" political parties are more distinctly characterized by their respective sectarian identities than by their "economic or social policy," and that these claimed sectarian identities transcend Lebanon's borders for many parties, including the Future Movement, which is "supported by the Sunni Muslim Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," as well as Hezbollah, which is "backed by Shia Muslim allies in Iraq, and in particular, Iran" (Chatham House 11 Aug. 2021).

2.1 Bases of Support

According to Chatham House, while Hezbollah is the "dominant" representative of the Shia population in Lebanese politics, the group's support is not limited to a single area or religion, and it receives support "from other Lebanese who perceive it as the only force providing effective opposition to the Israeli incursion" (Chatham House 11 Aug. 2021). In an op-ed published in Foreign Policy (FP), Michal Kranz, "a freelance journalist reporting on politics and society in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the [US]," writes that Hezbollah has "capitalize[d]" on "popular discontent" among various Lebanese sects, allowing it to benefit from "more influence among Christians, Sunnis, and Druze than ever before," most notably since the 2018 parliamentary elections (Kranz 9 Aug. 2019). The same source points to the election of "six pro-Hezbollah Sunni deputies" in 2018, the appointment of a pro-Hezbollah Sunni deputy from the Bekaa [Beqaa] Valley region as Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and the support of the imam of the Quds Mosque in Sidon, a Sunni-majority city, who estimates that "'at least a third'" of Sunni communities support Hezbollah (Kranz 9 Aug. 2019). Kranz goes on to report that Hezbollah has made "inroads" with Christian constituents to a "much greater degree," according to Hanin Ghaddar, "a researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy [TWI]" who was interviewed in the article (Kranz 9 Aug. 2019).

However, in a virtual policy forum held in 2022 by TWI, an organization that seeks to "advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East" (TWI n.d.), Ghaddar indicated that the core Shia support base for Hezbollah "is growing more divided and outspoken" over the course of the last 15 years, with the latest development being the 2019 mass protests, which also took place in Shia-dominant areas (TWI 18 May 2022). Additionally, the same source noted that in the wake of Hezbollah's tightened operational budget due to "heightened" economic sanctions against Iran, its provision of "certain" services to the Shia community has been "limit[ed]," as the group is now "catering more to its members and other elites" instead (TWI 18 May 2022).

Sources analyzing Lebanon's 2019 election results note that seats were won by new independent deputies (Crisis Group 23 May 2022; TWI 16 May 2022), including in areas that traditionally elect Hezbollah and Amal Movement party lists, such as in the south (TWI 16 May 2022). Ghaddar's analysis for the TWI also indicates that in "all" Shia majority districts, there was a "lower turnout" of voters (TWI 16 May 2022).

2.2 Alliances
2.2.1 With Other Political Parties

According to sources, Hezbollah is allied with the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) [headed by the former foreign minister Gebran Bassil (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2022, 15) and founded by the current Lebanese president, Michel Aoun (Chatham House 11 Aug. 2021)] and the Amal Movement [headed by Nabih Berri (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2022, 15)] (Chatham House 11 Aug. 2021; TCF 25 Jan. 2022), and together they lead the March 8 Alliance, a political coalition of Shia and Christian parties "united by a pro-Syria agenda" (Chatham House 11 Aug. 2021). Chatham House notes that Hezbollah wields "tremendous power" through the March 8 coalition and that its "domination" of the alliance allows it to exert a level of parliamentary control superior to its number of seats (Chatham House 11 Aug. 2021). For instance, the same source points to the 2018 parliamentary elections, when Hezbollah won 13 seats of 128 in parliament, but "effectively controlled" a 72-seat majority (Chatham House 11 Aug. 2021). Chatham House further reports that the opposing coalition in the Lebanese parliament is the March 14 Alliance, which joins together Maronite Christian and Sunni Muslim parties based on an anti-Syria agenda (Chatham House 11 Aug. 2021).

2.2.2 With State Institutions

According to The Century Foundation (TCF), an "independent" and "progressive" think tank that promotes US foreign policy focused on international cooperation, peace and security (TCF n.d.), Hezbollah's "foothold" in state institutions is "limited" relative to other parties which have benefited from "political patronage," as is its ability to influence outcomes in the Lebanese legislature (TCF 25 Jan. 2022). The same source points to Hezbollah's "failure" to garner adequate support for former prime minister designate Saad Hariri's attempt to form a government in 2020, as an example that the group "cannot simply dictate political outcomes" (TCF 25 Jan. 2022). However, Lina Khatib, Director of Chatham House's Middle East and North Africa Programme, reports that Hezbollah enjoys "de facto control" over the state's military intelligence apparatus through the service of loyal officers that work in within it (Khatib 30 June 2021, 26, 32). According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a US-based bipartisan non-profit policy research organization (CSIS n.d.), state security institutions are "functionally controlled along sectarian lines," such that

the leadership of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) is Maronite Christian, the Internal Security Forces (ISF) are Sunni-led, and the Directorate of General Security (DGS) is Shia-led and thought to be aligned with Hezbollah, which has a powerful armed militia of its own. (CSIS 30 Apr. 2020, 2)

Additionally, Khatib reports that Hezbollah oversees the designation of the Director General for the DGS, an asset they have leveraged to "falsif[y] identity documents to travel internationally unnoticed" (Khatib 30 June 2021, 26). The same source, citing a research interview Chatham House conducted with a security officer in Lebanon in 2020, describes the DGS as a "major source of intelligence for Hezbollah, including counterintelligence to guard against infiltration by spies" (Khatib 30 June 2021, 26). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2.3 May 2022 Elections

According to sources, Hezbollah and its coalition allies lost their parliamentary majority in the May 2022 national elections, although Hezbollah held their seats (CFR 25 May 2022; Crisis Group 23 May 2022), namely 13 out of 128 seats in parliament (CFR 25 May 2022).

According to International Crisis Group (Crisis Group), although "the established political forces," including both Hezbollah and its "bloc" as well as its "long-time foes," held on to 90 percent of the legislative seats, the election results shifted the "balance of power" in Lebanon's parliament away from any "clear majority coalition[s]" or "easy path[s] to forming government" (Crisis Group 23 May 2022).

A report published by Oxfam notes that the "political pressure" independent candidates described facing during the 2022 general elections, was "particularly acute," even taking the form of "intimidation," in southern regions of the country, where Hezbollah and its ally, the Amal Movement, have a "presence" (Abed, et al. 26 Apr. 2022, 26, 38). In another instance reported by sources, a journalist with press accreditation covering the election day on 15 May 2022, in the southern village of Ansar, was "kicked" by ["dozens of (CPJ 17 May 2022) or "a score of" (RSF 20 May 2022)] Hezbollah supporters (CPJ 17 May 2022; RSF 20 May 2022). The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an "independent, nonprofit organization" that advocates for freedom of the press globally (CPJ n.d.), reports that the journalist was

documenting tactics by the Hezbollah party to add votes, such as accompanying voters behind the electoral barrier by claiming that the voters are illiterate and bringing large numbers of people with severe illnesses and disabilities to vote for their party, the journalist told CPJ by phone. (CPJ 17 May 2022)

3. Military Activities
3.1 Armed Status and Weapons Arsenal

According to sources, Hezbollah was the only group excluded from the Taif agreement, an accord signed in 1989 which required the disarmament of militias (Brookings Institution 19 Nov. 2021; CFR 25 May 2022; Khatib 30 June 2021, 23–24), and marked the end of the Lebanese civil war (CFR 25 May 2022; Khatib 30 June 2021, 23). According to a research paper by Khatib about Hezbollah's relationship with the Lebanese state, the Lebanese state security apparatus has defined its "'formula'" since 2008 as "'the army, the people and the resistance'," and in the absence of a constitutional provision for auxiliary armed forces, Hezbollah's status as "the only legitimately armed entity other than the Lebanese Armed Forces" became entrenched "under the pretext of national security" through these "various" ministerial statements (Khatib 30 June 2021, 23). The same source states that since 2008, the group has "justified" its armed activities by "regularly invok[ing]" the same formula (Khatib 30 June 2021, 25). BTI 2022 notes that Hezbollah's "formal status" as an NGO "does not necessarily imply that it weakens the state's monopoly on the use of force," because it has become "a major actor of the ruling regime," which is a "dominant actor in the realm of security" in the regions under its control (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2022, 7).

According to the Wilson Center, a think tank chartered by US Congress (Wilson Center n.d.), the "resistance priority" of the group's ideology is used to justify its armed status (Wilson Center 13 July 2022). Similarly, according to Hezbollah's 32-page party manifesto released in 2009 and reported by Reuters in the same year, the group's armed resistance is said to remain "'a permanent national necessity'" given the "'Israeli threat, and in the absence of a strong, stable state in Lebanon'" (Reuters 30 Nov. 2009).

A 2020 estimate by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), an organization that contributes to the "strategic agenda" of governments, businesses, media and other experts, by providing policy publications and databases (IISS n.d.), and cited by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an "independent" and "nonpartisan" US-based think tank and publisher on international affairs (CFR n.d.), indicates that Hezbollah had "up to" 20,000 "active" combatants, and "some" 20,000 reserves, along with a cache of "small arms, tanks, drones, and various long-range rockets" (CFR 25 May 2022). Media sources report that in October 2021, Hassan Nasrallah claimed that Hezbollah's membership includes "100,000 trained fighters" (AP 18 Oct. 2021; The Times 19 Oct. 2021). The same media sources indicate that if true, Hezbollah's armed forces would outnumber Lebanon's armed forces of 85,000 (AP 18 Oct. 2021; The Times 19 Oct. 2021). The Middle East Institute (MEI), a "non-partisan" think tank based in Washington, DC (MEI n.d.), states that Hezbollah's weapons stockpile includes "precision-guided missiles" that the group deploys and maintains "independent[ly]" of state authorities (MEI 26 July 2021, 9).

3.2 Areas Under Control

Sources reported that the main areas under Hezbollah's control are southern Lebanon, the southern suburbs of Beirut, and parts of the Bekaa Valley (Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022; PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022; Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022), with its main base of operation located in Dahieh, a southern suburb of Beirut (Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022). BTI 2022 reports that the southern Beirut suburb of Bourj el-Barajneh is a "stronghold" of Hezbollah (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2022, 7). CFR reports that Hezbollah controls "much of" Lebanon's areas where there is a Shia-majority population (CFR 25 May 2022). The independent consultant similarly reported that under "current conditions," it is easier for groups like Hezbollah to operate with "impunity," particularly in Shia-majority areas (Independent consultant 27 July 2022).

According to sources, Hezbollah has "control" of the Lebanese border with Syria and the port of Beirut, through which it transports drugs, weapons, and explosive material in and out of Lebanon without any "state oversight or intervention" (Chatham House 11 Aug. 2021). Citing a "former judicial official," Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that among other members of the country's "ruling elite," Hezbollah enjoys a "'free pass'" at the port of Beirut due to its "ties to customs and port officials" (AFP 16 Sept. 2020). In an interview with the Research Directorate, a PhD candidate at University College London whose research focuses on local governance and administration across social cleavages in the Levant region, and who has conducted field research in Lebanon as recently as in 2022, stated that Hezbollah controls the Beirut International Airport alongside the Amal movement, and "gathers all intelligence coming in and out" of it (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3.3 External State Alliances

Sources indicate that Hezbollah is closely allied with the ruling regimes of Iran and Syria (CFR 25 May 2022; Stanford University July 2019). Sources also note that Iran is its "largest benefactor" (CFR 25 May 2022) or its "primary patron" (Stanford University July 2019, 1). According to CFR, the alliance between Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran has "embroiled the group in the Syrian civil war" (CFR 25 May 2022). The Wilson Center reports that Hezbollah's ideological commitment to the "agenda of Iran's leaders" and to its representation and promotion of interests of Lebanon's Shia population, "do not always correspond," and it is becoming "ever more difficult" for Hezbollah to reconcile these two obligations (Wilson Center 13 July 2022). In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, a professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University, whose research focuses on the relationship between political and social tensions in the Middle East, characterized Hezbollah as a "branch" of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and noted that Hezbollah "oftentimes" prioritizes the IRGC's interests above those of its own Shia constituents in Lebanon, Lebanese citizens more generally, or the Lebanese state (Professor 12 Aug. 2022).

3.4 Funding Activities

Without providing further details, the independent consultant indicated that they have "come across" several pieces of "evidence" over the course of their research that point to the group's ongoing efforts to become more financially self-sufficient, despite the "many claims," including by the group's own secretary general, that Hezbollah is "fully" financially supported by Iran (Independent consultant 27 July 2022). According to sources, global economic sanctions placed on Iran have affected their funding capabilities in support of Hezbollah, leading the group to seek funds through other means, including illicit activities (MEI 26 July 2021, 15; TWI 18 May 2022). According to CFR, while "most" of Hezbollah's weapons cache is provided by Iran, and Syria "facilitates the transfer" of said weapons between both parties, the group raises "hundreds of millions of dollars" from both legal business ventures as well as "international criminal enterprises, and the Lebanese diaspora" (CFR 25 May 2022). The same source adds that in the wake of fuel shortages across Lebanon in 2021 and the government's "fail[ure]" to address them, Hezbollah was able to import "more than a million gallons of fuel" in 2021 from Iran (CFR 25 May 2022). The Professor also stated that Hezbollah has been developing alternative revenue streams through its various businesses, including through the drug trade, the sale of other contraband and customs-free goods, done through exclusive import deals obtained at the ports, and through remittances from the Shia diaspora and its activities abroad, notably those located in Western Africa (Professor 12 Aug. 2022).

According to an interview with a security officer in Lebanon conducted in 2020, Khatib notes that Unit 927, or Hezbollah's "Liaison and Coordination Unit" "coordinate[s]" import and export activities with the state's civil, military, judiciary, and security institutions, as well as political parties (Khatib 30 June 2021, 28). The same source notes that the unit disburses a monthly stipend to officials within the DGS, the LAF, and other state institutions, and port and airport officials involved in acts such as omitting records of the "the arrival of a particular shipment at a specified time" also receive payments through "shares of fees collected by the Lebanese customs and General Security Administration" (Khatib 30 June 2021, 28).

3.5 Regional Operations

According to MEI, Hezbollah's regional activities include

large and small military deployments, training local militias, capacity building efforts focused on weapons or technology transfers, propaganda and disinformation, cyber training and campaigns, illicit financial activities, intelligence collection efforts, and even terrorist plots and preoperational surveillance in the region. (MEI 26 July 2021, 11)

BTI 2022 reports that Hezbollah and state security forces "sometimes" and "mostly tacitly" work together on counterterrorism operations both to obscure the state security institutions' "relative ineffectiveness" in relation to Hezbollah, and due to Western actors' "distrustfulness" of Hezbollah (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2022, 7).

According to CFR, Hezbollah has "been accused" of "acts of terrorism" against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad, and there is "evidence" of Hezbollah operations in Africa, the Americas and Asia (CFR 25 May 2022). The MEI reports that Hezbollah began deploying fighters regionally before the Syrian civil war (MEI 26 July 2021, 12). The same source indicates that in the 2010s, the group continued its support of Shia militias fighting in Iraq by providing financial support and organizational infrastructure, which includes supplying trainers and investing in "commercial front organizations" (MEI 26 July 2021, 12). Sources report that Hezbollah has also intervened militarily in the Syrian civil war [as of 2012 (Wilson Center 13 July 2020)], in support of the ruling regime of President Bashar Al-Assad (MEI 26 July 2021, 9; Wilson Center 13 July 2020). According to MEI, the armed deployment in Syria represented Hezbollah's "most significant military commitment, by far," due in part to the "training and commanding of other Shia militants from Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, among others" (MEI 26 July 2021, 11).

Sources estimate that Hezbollah deployed "[m]ore than" 7,000 (CFR 25 May 2022) or "[u]p to" 10,000 fighters in Syria (MEI 26 July 2021, 11). CFR specifies that while the group withdrew most of its armed contingent from Syria in 2019, their role was "instrumental" in the Assad regime's recapturing of areas between Damascus and Homs (CFR 25 May 2022).

In a stakeholder submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for Lebanon, Alkarama Foundation, an NGO based in Geneva that assists survivors, advocates for reform, and raises awareness on issues of extrajudicial execution, enforced disappearance, torture, and arbitrary detention in the "Arab world" (Alkarama Foundation n.d.), reports that together with the Lebanese authorities, Hezbollah continues to deport Syrian refugees back to Syria (Alkarama Foundation 8 July 2020, para. 6).

4. Recruitment Practices

The PhD candidate stated that it is "difficult" for "foreign researchers" to identify recruitment and training practices by Hezbollah and to gain "direct" access to the group's internal organization (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022). Nevertheless, sources indicated that Hezbollah most notably conducts its recruitment among members of Shia communities (Independent consultant 27 July 2022; PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022; Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). Sources also noted that the group provides financial and social incentives to those who join it (Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022; Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022), including monthly remuneration, "entry points" into the state public service, judiciary, and private sector opportunities, as well as access to a certain "social status" (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022).

4.1 Political Wing

Regarding Hezbollah's recruitment into its party, sources stated that it involves long term "indoctrination" (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022; Professor 12 Aug. 2022), or "solid and sustained ideological training" (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). According to various sources, this process of ideological training begins from a young age among Shia children in school, through youth educational and social programs and activities, including in summer camps and Hezbollah-run program resembling the Scouts (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022; Professor 12 Aug. 2022; Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). The PhD candidate noted that while not all Shia who live in Hezbollah-controlled territories agree with or internalize the group's ideology, "dissent and contestation" are "extremely difficult" to publicly express (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022).

4.2 Military Wing

According to sources, the recruitment of fighters into Hezbollah's armed wing in Lebanon is done through a process of "vet[ting]" Shia candidates, including their family backgrounds (Professor 12 Aug. 2022; Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). Sources stated that the process also screens recruits for their religious devotion and loyalty (Independent consultant 27 July 2022; Professor 12 Aug. 2022). The independent consultant added that the vetting process can take "months" (Independent consultant 27 July 2022).

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a lecturer of terrorism studies at Macquarie University in Australia, whose research focuses on non-state groups, terrorism, and political violence in the Middle East, and who has published books and articles on Hezbollah's activities, indicated that certain regional, family, or social environments can act as a source of "pressure" to join Hezbollah, "especially" if one has a family member who died in combat as a Hezbollah fighter (Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022). However, according to the independent consultant, Hezbollah works to ensure that membership into its armed contingency is "voluntary" as it "fears treason" (Independent consultant 27 July 2022).

The information in the following paragraph was provided by the Professor:

Once the vetting of the recruit's personal background, family background, and religious devotion is complete and they are successfully recruited into Hezbollah's forces, as an "incentive or reward," they are offered a "temporary marriage of pleasure" for a "fixed-term" with a woman who is "essentially used as [a] sex worke[r]." Following this, recruits go through a "deep ideological orientation and training" to ensure they are fully committed to the group's ideology based on the doctrine of Iran's Supreme Leader. Military training then ensues based on the different levels of expertise needed and on the sorting of the skills of recruits. This includes the identification of the "best" of the recruits, which are then "well looked after" and "kept in stationary positions" along the southern border with Israel, as part of Hezbollah's armed "elite," not to be "waste[d]" in active combat operations in Syria, for instance (Professor 12 Aug. 2022).

4.2.1 War in Syria

Sources reported that for the recruitment of fighters intended for deployment in Syria, the process was less "rigorous" (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022) or less "discerning" (Professor 12 Aug. 2022). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a visiting lecturer at Saint Joseph University of Beirut, whose research and various positions in international NGOs and policy institutes have focused on human rights and civil society in Lebanon, as well as the larger Middle East and North Africa regions, stated that between 2012 and 2015, Hezbollah "expedited hiring, shorte[ned] training," and implemented a "lighter vetting mechanism" to recruit specifically for the war in Syria (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). The same source indicated that at the end of that period, some of the Syria recruits were either "let go or recycled into other functions in Lebanon" (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). According to the Professor, Hezbollah was aware that the war in Syria would bring about a "high" mortality rate, and that "they were essentially recruiting martyrs," leading them to seek recruits they "otherwise would not have" (Professor 12 Aug. 2022).

4.3 Targets for Recruitment
4.3.1 Shia, Including Shia Youth, in Lebanon

Without providing further details on which groups undertake the practice, but citing a call for its cessation by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflicted, the UN Human Rights Council's Working Group on the UPR on Lebanon notes in its report that armed groups in the country conduct recruitment and training of Lebanese children aged "as young as 11," including for the aim of "trafficking" them as fighters in Syria (UN 16 Nov. 2020, para. 13). Without providing further details on whether they were subsequently recruited into Hezbollah, US Country Reports 2021 indicates that Hezbollah paid youth to leave what the group perceived as "'unacceptable'" NGOs in areas under their control (US 12 Apr. 2022, 21).

Sources indicated that Shia "youth" are [the "primary" (PhD candidate 12 Aug. 2022)] sources for recruitment into Hezbollah's party wing (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022; Professor 12 Aug. 2022; Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). The PhD candidate added that Hezbollah seeks to frame a "common destiny between the Shia" and Hezbollah as their sole legitimate representative, and to ensure "that the Shia youth sees its future naturally" within the group (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022).

According to the independent consultant, Dahieh, the Bekaa Valley, and the south of Lebanon—areas where a Shia-majority population exists—are also where Hezbollah "focuses" the "vast majority" of its recruitment efforts (Independent consultant 27 July 2022). Chatham House reports that southern Lebanon became a "useful recruitment base" for Hezbollah in the aftermath of the Israeli invasion of 1982 (Chatham House 11 Aug. 2021).

4.3.2 Lebanese Shia Abroad

Sources indicated that Hezbollah recruits Lebanese Shia living abroad (Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022; Professor 12 Aug. 2022), notably among the Shia diaspora communities located in Western Africa (Professor 12 Aug. 2022). Sources noted that recruits [or Shia organizations and individuals (Independent consultant 27 July 2022)] from abroad are sourced to help raise funds for the group's activities (Independent consultant 27 July 2022; Professor 12 Aug. 2022). The Professor noted that recruits from the Shia diaspora in West Africa are also leveraged to gather "intelligence" and to "case [new] targets in the diaspora," as Hezbollah has "many sleeper cells" globally (Professor 12 Aug. 2022). Additionally, the PhD candidate indicated that Hezbollah has "established channels of communications" between Shia communities at home and abroad, most notably in Western Africa, and knows where people live among the Shia diaspora in the region (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022). The same source added that this is "especially" the case if they used to live in a Hezbollah-controlled area of Lebanon, and noted that their visits to Lebanon are "observed closely" for signs of political dissent against Hezbollah (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022).

4.3.3 Others

According to the Visiting Lecturer, the Lebanese Resistance Brigades is a "Hezbollah-related structure" for the recruitment of "non-Shi'a fighters" set up in the late 1990s (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). The same source noted that "little" information is available about them, including their organizational structure, leadership, and membership count (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). On the recruitment "inroads" Hezbollah made among non-Shia communities in "recent" years, Kranz writes that a Sunni Hezbollah fighter interviewed for the article stated that "he was not the only convert" to Shiism within the Hezbollah corps after leaving the group's "Resistance Brigade" (Kranz 9 Aug. 2019).

Despite this, sources noted that the recruitment of non-Shia members (Independent consultant 27 July 2022) or non-Shia and non-Lebanese members (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022) is "limited" (Independent consultant 27 July 2022) or "applies only to a small number of recruits" (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). The independent consultant wrote that this is because "trust is paramount" for a "secretive" group like Hezbollah, and it remains "difficult" for them to "trust non-Shia" (Independent consultant 27 July 2022). In cases where non-Shia are recruited, sources noted that it is done for specific roles, including intelligence gathering (Independent consultant 27 July 2022; Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). According to the Visiting Lecturer, non-Shia members may also be "bankrolled" by Hezbollah to "sustain their partisan structures" at their respective local levels, including pro-Hezbollah Sunnis, Druze, and Christian local leaders (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022).

4.4 Forced Recruitment

Various sources indicated that they are not aware of reports of forced recruitment employed by Hezbollah (Independent consultant 27 July 2022; Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022; PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022; Professor 12 Aug. 2022; Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022), with the Visiting Lecturer specifying "at least not in the last ten years" (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). The Professor added that even during the recruitment of fighters for the war in Syria, there had "been no reports of troops forcibly sent" (Professor 12 Aug. 2022).

4.5 Consequences for Refusing Membership

According to the Visiting Lecturer, the financial and social benefits of joining the party leads "[m]any Shia families" to "encourage their sons" to pursue a "non-combat role" within the party (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). According to the Lecturer, families can be a source of "pressure" to join the group, and financial and social incentives a "main motivator" (Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022).

For those who refuse to join the party, sources reported that they may face "social stigma and marginalization" (Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022) or "exclusion from the community" (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022). Sources further stated that more "serious" consequences can also arise, including situations that are "life-threatening" (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022) or that "can have serious ramifications for their safety" (Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022). According to the Lecturer, Shia individuals who refuse membership are seen as "traitors," and may "in some cases" face threats and violence, and their families may be targeted for "ostracization" and they may be "forcibly … ejected from the community" (Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022). The PhD candidate noted that individuals who refuse membership may have to "flee" to another area not under Hezbollah control, such as Beirut, but that this depends on the individual in question, as "some more serious cases would have to flee abroad entirely" (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022). The Lecturer noted that the consequences of refusing membership are not "necessarily" perpetrated by Hezbollah or its leadership "directly," but "can easily come from supporters of the party—which can be more dangerous" as they may "not be held accountable" (Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022).

5. Ability to Track and Locate Individuals

According to various sources, Hezbollah is able to track and locate individuals across Lebanon (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022; Professor 12 Aug. 2022; Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). According to US Country Reports 2021, various militant and armed groups in Lebanon, including Hezbollah, breach citizens' privacy rights through the use of "informer networks, telephone monitoring, and electronic monitoring to obtain information regarding their perceived adversaries" (US 12 Apr. 2022, 13). The Visiting Lecturer reported that Hezbollah has tracking and locating capabilities in other countries too, due to its "network of informants in many countries, especially those with a large or growing Lebanese diaspora," like Syria, Iraq, Germany, and "some" African and Latin American countries (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022).

Sources reported that Hezbollah can track people using individuals who are loyal to them and are employed within state institutions (Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022; Professor 12 Aug. 2022), and in areas under their control, their capacity to track is greater (Professor 12 Aug. 2022). According to the Visiting Lecturer, Hezbollah's access to and "leverage over" security agencies, the judiciary, state institutions in the country, is such that one can "assume that any information held by the Lebanese authorities can be accessed by Hezbollah" (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). Similarly, the PhD candidate noted that Hezbollah's links to state security institutions such as the DGS "allows them" to use legitimate institutions to conduct arrests of individuals who are "essentially Hezbollah's private" targets (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022).

Regarding its capacity to detain individuals extrajudicially, the Visiting Lecturer reported that Hezbollah has "a track record" of this, most notably with foreign journalists, activists, or tourists who are detained for "hours, days or weeks" before being transferred to the custody of Lebanese state authorities (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). Sources indicate that in late June 2021, two accredited foreign journalists were detained and released by Hezbollah for reporting on occurrences [namely for "filming long lines" (US 12 Apr. 2022, 16)] at a gas station in Beirut's southern suburbs (L'Orient-Le Jour 29 June 2021; US 12 Apr. 2022, 16).

Sources also reported that they had not come across information indicating that Hezbollah conducts enforced disappearances against its targets (Independent consultant 27 July 2022; Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022; Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022).

5.1 Motives for Tracking

Sources indicated that Hezbollah deploys its capabilities for tracking and locating individuals across Lebanon when they perceive someone as a political threat to their organization (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022; Professor 12 Aug. 2022; Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022), or to be a "foreign intelligence operative" (Visiting Lecturer 12 Aug. 2022). Sources reported that typical groups of individuals perceived as threats to Hezbollah and targeted for tracking and locating across Lebanon include journalists, political actors, civil society members, and religious clerics, most notably those who are Shia and who are critical of Hezbollah (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022; PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022). The PhD candidate noted that Hezbollah is motivated to track and locate individuals who speak out against them, most notably if they reside in a Hezbollah-controlled area and are Shia, as well as if they have standing within those communities (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022). According to the Professor, in areas "where they are not the predominant force," Hezbollah is nevertheless "very adept" at locating, tracking, and carrying out operations against "perceived enemies of the movement or of the Syrian regime" (Professor 12 Aug. 2022).

The Visiting Lecturer reported that the party's strategy for tracking and locating an individual is "selective, not a blanket one" (Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). According to sources, perceived threats to the movement can include a high-ranking party member who defects from the group (Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022; PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022), most notably if they had "access to confidential information" (Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022). According to the Lecturer, who conducted interviews with former members of Hezbollah's armed wing who "only served as fighters" and not as high-ranking members, an individual reported that they were "followed" and "monitored" regularly (Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022). The PhD candidate noted, as an example, that individuals who formerly resided in the Bekaa Valley and fled to Beirut after criticizing Hezbollah publicly, have "stopped" doing so once relocated; while they may still be "watched" by Hezbollah, that does not "necessarily" mean they are "in direct or imminent" danger of "retaliation," but that this would be "likelier" to occur if they "speak out" again (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022).

6. State Protection

According to sources, individuals targeted or coerced by non-state groups like Hezbollah cannot expect to receive protection from the state in Lebanon (Lecturer 1 Aug. 2022; Visiting Lecturer 10 Aug. 2022). The compilation on Lebanon by the UN's UPR states that "pervasive corruption," a "lack of transparency and effective oversight in public affairs," and the "presence of nepotism and clientelism" in Lebanon's political spaces, have led to a "considerable loss of resources" (UN 16 Nov. 2020, para. 12). According to Chatham House, state institutions are defined by a "culture of impunity" and "pervasive" corruption (Chatham House 11 Aug. 2021). The same source notes that political parties in power use state institutions as "sources of income," while opposition parties "either actively collude" or "turn a blind eye" to their opponents' illicit activities, in order "to protect a system that works for them" (Chatham House 11 Aug. 2021).

6.1 Government Initiatives and Legislative Framework

According to Freedom House, "autonomous militant groups" like Hezbollah, as well as foreign actors with "interests" in Lebanon, "limi[t] in practice" the policymaking authority of the central government (Freedom House 28 Feb. 2022, Sec. C1). Similarly, in its assessment of the rule of law in Lebanon, BTI 2022 reports that the state's "decision-making processes" are "highly ineffective" as a result of the "high tensions between the political parties of the sectarian system" (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2022, 13).

Sources indicate that, in October 2021, 7 people were killed and approximately 30 were injured when protests against the handling of the Beirut port explosion [2] investigation saw armed clashes break out between supporters of Hezbollah and its political allies (Freedom House 28 Feb. 2022, Sec. E1; UN 22 Apr. 2022, para. 7), and supporters of the Christian "faction," the Lebanese Forces (Freedom House 28 Feb. 2022, Sec. E1), or "affiliates of the majority-Christian neighborhood" (UN 22 Apr. 2022, para. 7). According to a report by the Secretary-General to the UN Security Council on the implementation of resolution 1559 of 2004 that includes provisions on "the existence and activities of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias," no cabinet sessions were held in parliament from October 2021 to January 2022 due to a boycott from Hezbollah and the Amal Movement's ministers, "citing discontent over the handling of the Beirut port explosion investigation" (UN 22 Apr. 2022, para. 2, 6).

According to Alkarama Foundation, Lebanon founded in 2019, but has yet to render operational, the National Prevention Mechanism (NPM) and an "independent" National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), both of which are headed by five members appointed by the Lebanese parliament (Alkarama Foundation 8 July 2020, para. 12–13). The same source notes that the new bodies have yet to be allocated a budget and "lack essential infrastructures, including a website" as well as have yet to be graded by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) [1] (Alkarama Foundation 8 July 2020, para. 13).

In another government initiative reported by BTI 2022, the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (2020–2025) was launched in May 2020 and has yet to show any "political will … to seriously address the issue" (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2022, 35). Similarly, a research paper on public corruption in Lebanon written by Beirut-based researcher Karim Merhej and published by Chatham House, indicates that the National Anti-Corruption Strategy is "likely to remain poorly implemented," as a result of a "weak state infrastructure," the absence of an "independent" judiciary, and "the fact that the same political class that has led the country to the current collapse is ostensibly in charge of implementing" the strategy (Merhej 29 June 2021, 44–45, 56).

6.2 Police and Security Forces

Freedom House indicates that while authorities use surveillance cameras in public spaces and "regularly" monitor social media and electronic communications of "politicians, dissidents, and journalists," they also "fail to protect" individuals from being monitored by non-state actors, including political parties or militant groups or from facing reprisal for criticizing these groups (Freedom House 28 Feb. 2022, Sec. D4). In an article published by the MEI, Aya Majzoub, a Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), reports that critics of Lebanon's "ruling elite and established political parties," from journalists to media workers and activists, are faced with state security authorities that are "unwilling or unable to protect them" from threats made, "often with impunity" by "private parties" and "government authorities" (Majzoub 3 May 2021). According to Crisis Group, state security institutions are "underfunded" and are "now approaching their breaking point," as they "struggl[e] to pay and feed soldiers and policemen" (Crisis Group 23 May 2022). According to CSIS, "large swaths" of the Lebanese population seek protection and other services that the state is "unable" or "unwilling" to provide, from "armed tribal militias or groups such as Hezbollah" (CSIS 30 Apr. 2020, 2).

Sources indicate that state security institutions are "functionally controlled" by "sectarian" groups (CSIS 30 Apr. 2020, 2) or "controlled" by "nonstate groups" (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022), such as the case of Hezbollah and the DGS (CSIS 30 Apr. 2020, 2); individuals who turn to other state security institutions such as the ISF, which is "tied to the top Sunni party in Lebanon, the Future movement," for protection from Hezbollah, may only receive protection if the party sees a "strategic political interest" in providing it (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022). However, according to the PhD candidate, in "most" instances, both non-state groups and state authorities tend to be "wary of entering into conflict with each other, especially with Hezbollah" (PhD candidate 2 Aug. 2022).

In a case reported by MEI, a journalist known for her criticisms of Lebanon's ruling political class and of Hezbollah, was targeted in a cyberbullying campaign following the national protests of October 2019, and her home in Beirut's southern suburbs was attacked twice by armed assailants, including a family member who is a Hezbollah member and who "broke her brother's nose, punched her mother and father in the face, hurled sexual insults at her, and threatened to kill her family members" (Majzoub 3 May 2021). The same source goes on to report that the journalist's legal complaint at the police station was turned into an "interrogat[ion] on defamation charges that the attackers had filed against her," and police officers prevented her from accessing a lawyer, held her in their custody, intimidated her, and released information regarding the case to the media, prompting the journalist and her siblings to leave their home (Majzoub 3 May 2021). MEI notes that the police officers as well as the attackers "have never been held accountable" (Majzoub 3 May 2021). In another case reported in US Country Reports 2021, the DGS detained activist siblings in June 2020 in Akkar Governorate for having "allegedly criticized Hizballah and President Michel Aoun in social media posts," later releasing one and referring another to the military court where they were held for nine months for "spying for Israel and illegally entering the West Bank," before being released on 16 March 2021 (US 12 Apr. 2022, 17).

The UN's UPR of Lebanon notes that there does not exist an "independent complaints mechanism" within Lebanon's state security institutions to "promptly, impartially and effectively" conduct investigations on mistreatment by state security officers, including for acts of torture (UN 16 Nov. 2020, para. 19). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

6.3 Judiciary

Sources report that the Lebanese judiciary is "not independent" (Freedom House 28 Feb. 2022, Sec. F1) or that its independence is "restricted" (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2022, 13). Sources further indicate that political actors "exer[t]" [or "reportedly exer[t]" (UN 16 Nov. 2020, para. 21)] influence on the judiciary, including over "judicial appointments, jurisdiction, processes, and decisions" (Freedom House 28 Feb. 2022, Sec. F1) or "to protect supporters from prosecution" (UN 16 Nov. 2020, para. 21). Additionally, BTI 2022 indicates that the judicial system experiences "widespread" "grand and petty corruption" (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2022, 9).

The Legal Agenda (LA), a "nonprofit research and advocacy organization" based in Beirut (LA n.d.), reports that the administrative authority responsible for appointing judges and ensuring the proper and independent functioning of the court, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), is itself formed through means that "do not grant it sufficient independence" and that are influenced by political and sectarian forces (LA 7 July 2021). Alkarama Foundation also notes that the SJC is one of Lebanon's two "extraordinary jurisdictions" or special courts, alongside the military tribunal, and they both "lack independence from the Executive" and that "their rules of procedures do not offer sufficient judicial guarantees to protect the rights of the defence" (Alkarama Foundation 8 July 2020, para. 34). The same source specifies that the SJC "is considered" a "political body" because of the appointment of its members by the cabinet's Council of Ministers, and that the rulings issued by the SJC "are definitive" (Alkarama Foundation 8 July 2020, para. 36). Alkarama Foundation points to "cases documented by civil society organizations" that demonstrate a "habitual use of incommunicado detention, torture and other cruel, unhuman and degrading treatment" by the SJC (Alkarama Foundation 8 July 2020, para. 36, italics in original).

According to media sources, three women judges resigned in November 2021 over the "political interference" they faced in Lebanon's judiciary (MEMO 27 Nov. 2021; Reuters 26 Nov. 2021). Since the Beirut port explosion of August 2020, sources report that political actors have "obstruct[ed]" and blocked [judicial] investigations from proceeding (Amnesty International 2 Aug. 2021; HRW 13 Jan. 2022). Other sources note that Hezbollah and its political allies, among other political actors, some of which were implicated by the investigation, stalled proceedings through demands for the removal of the judge in charge (Freedom House 28 Feb. 2022, Sec. F1) or by filing lawsuits against the lead investigator (AFP 12 Oct. 2021). Following the appointment of a second lead judge, sources report that political authorities blocked (Amnesty International 29 Mar. 2022, 231) or campaigned against (HRW 13 Jan. 2022) requests to lift immunity for political figures and to interrogate senior members of the security forces (Amnesty International 29 Mar. 2022, 231; HRW 13 Jan. 2022). According to Reuters, one of the three women judges who resigned in November 2021 was "targeted with a lawsuit seeking her removal from the [investigation of the Beirut post explosion] case" after she ruled against requests by former ministers charged in the investigation "to remove the judge heading the inquiry" (Reuters 26 Nov. 2021).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Notes

[1] Regarding its strategic place for 2020–2022, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), an organization co-funded by the EU and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), states that it seeks to contribute to the establishment of accredited national human rights institutions (NHRIs), consolidate its status as a global alliance of NHRIs, and promote the voices of its members (GANHRI n.d.).

[2] The Beirut port explosion occurred on 4 August 2020, "when large quantities of ammonium nitrate that had been inappropriately stored" over the last six years caused a blast that killed over 200 people, injured 7,500 others, and left 300,000 homeless (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2022, 4).

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Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: ALEF Act for Human Rights; assistant professor at a university in Lebanon whose research focuses on the political of intelligence and national security, notably in the Middle East; assistant professor at a university in the US whose research focuses on changes to social, economic and political hierarchies, including political violence, and who has conducted fieldwork in Lebanon; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – Carnegie Middle East Center; The Century Foundation – Century International; consultant based in the UK who focuses on the political and security situation in Arab countries; European Council on Foreign Relations; Human Rights Watch; International Crisis Group; MAP – Media Association for Peace; Middle East Consultancy Services; Middle East Institute; postdoctoral researcher in France whose work focuses on Hezbollah's influence and engagement with various Lebanese communities; professor at a university in Lebanon whose research focuses on politics in the Middle East, and who has published a book on Hezbollah; professor at a university in the US whose research focuses on interstate and civil conflict, including Hezbollah's role in Middle East politics; professor of political science at a university in Lebanon whose research focuses on political economy, political Islam, and international relations; psychologist in France whose research focuses on conflict transformation and who has published articles on the psychological aspects of Hezbollah's place in Lebanon; research fellow at a US-based institute whose work focuses on politics and in Shia communities across the Levant; researcher based in Beirut and London whose work focuses on the relationship between consociationalism and democracy in Lebanon and Iraq; senior fellow in the US whose research focuses on politics and history in the Middle East.

Internet sites, including: ALEF Act for Human Rights; Al Jazeera; The Atlantic Council; Forbes; The International Institute for Strategic Studies; Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections; Lebanon – General Directorate of General Security, Lebanon Elections, Ministry of Interior and Municipalities; Megaphone; National Public Radio; L'Orient Today; Samir Kassir Foundation – SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom; Triangle; UN – Refworld; University of Maryland – Global Terrorism Database; Voice of America; The Washington Post; World Justice Project.