- Hizballah is an Islamic militant group based in Lebanon and allied with Iran. Its primary goal is the destruction of Israel. In October, Michael Aoun, a member of the Free Patriotic Movement and a Hizballah supporter, was elected President of Lebanon, indicating the group may have more political influence in the coming years.
- Since 2013, Hizballah has plotted attacks against Israeli citizens and institutions in Europe, South America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. In September 2016, Israeli police arrested seven suspected Hizballah members for plotting to carry out attacks after explosives were discovered in northern Israel. In June 2015, a Hizballah member pled guilty to acquiring nine tons of ammonium nitrate in Cyprus, which was intended for attacks against Israelis.
Although Hizballah possesses the capability to attack the United States and Western interests, the group is focused on supporting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. Hizballah receives training, weaponry, and about $200 million per year from Iran.
In 2013, Hizballah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict shifted from an advisory to a combat role. The group’s commitment is demonstrated by the number of personnel it has dispatched to Syria at any one time—Western media estimate 6,000 to 8,000 fighters, or roughly one-quarter of its assessed fighting force.
Threat to New Jersey: Low
The terror threat from Hizballah to New Jersey is low because the group’s resources and efforts are focused on supporting the Assad regime in Syria. Nonetheless, group supporters and sympathizers are active in the New Jersey region and along the East Coast, primarily in fundraising.
- In October 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the South Florida Money-Laundering Strike Force announced an investigation into three men believed to be Hizballah members accused of using Miami banks to launder money for Colombian cartels. Authorities arrested two—one in Miami and the other in Paris—while the third remains at large.
In February 2015, the DEA—including its Newark office—and international agencies spanning seven countries uncovered a global Hizballah drug and money laundering scheme. In October 2015, federal authorities in New York, acting with the Newark DEA office, arrested two Hizballah associates on charges of conspiring to launder narcotics proceeds and international arms trafficking.
- Since 2005, approximately 20 Hizballah-related cases have been prosecuted in the United States. Half were along the East Coast, including in New York and Pennsylvania. None were in New Jersey.
- Hizballah has never conducted an attack on US soil, but it has targeted the US military in Lebanon, including the bombing of a US Marine compound in 1983 in Beirut, which killed 241 US personnel.