Hezbollah’s leaders have boasted in recent years about the growing involvement of women in the terrorist organization’s network. Just last month, chief Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah spoke before a group of women to recognize the role of female leaders in advancing Hezbollah’s terrorist activities. Nasrallah’s address emphasized his firm belief, as stated years earlier, that women must “be integrated in the Hezbollah’s agenda in every matter.”
Involving women in terrorism
Although Hezbollah denies women any direct role in combat, the organization perceives women as key contributors to its mission of terror. In a 2010 interview with Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai, Rima Fahri – a woman who has risen through the ranks of Hezbollah’s leadership – stated that “all the women in Southern Lebanon are considered fighters in the ranks of the resistance.” Fahri added that women are by no means “disconnected from Hezbollah’s military struggle,” and that they in fact “take part in it in one way or another.”
During the interview, Fahri emphasized Hezbollah’s belief in obligating women to take part in terrorism – and even to commit suicide attacks. “The woman, like the man, is charged with a holy war against the enemy,” Fahri said. “The list of women willing to commit suicide attacks in Hezbollah is as long as the men’s. If there will be a need for the party’s women to start jihad activities then there’s no obstacle to it, ideologically or organizationally.”
Women play a variety of roles in support of Hezbollah terrorism. They collect important monetary donations, which the organization combines with illicit drug sales and support from Iran and Syria to sustain its worldwide terror operations. Many women provide direct support to Hezbollah terrorists, preparing militants for war or treating their injuries during battle. A small number of women have taken a more direct role in fighting, gathering intelligence and tracking the movements of the enemy.
In 2009, Hezbollah’s leaders emphasized the need to bring women into the ranks of the terror organization. As a result, women are allowed – and in many cases encouraged – to run in Lebanon’s municipal elections as Hezbollah representatives.
In recent years, Hezbollah has established divisions of female leadership throughout the organization. The divisions, called “women’s directorates,” allow women to make decisions on a range of matters, including culture, education, and media in an effort to more effectively enlist women for its terrorist mission.
Influential but not equal
Despite the rising role of women, Hezbollah continues to emphasize the subordinate status of its female members. By and large, women are denied opportunities reserved for men. For example, while Hezbollah’s women may represent the terrorist organization in municipal elections, they are not permitted to run for positions in Lebanon’s parliament.
In 2010, Hezbollah launched a broad campaign to persuade Lebanese women to wear the Hijab – the traditional head scarf for Muslim women. An advertisement of the campaign proclaimed that the Hijab “protects the position of women,” while another described the veil as the “fortress of chastity.” Hezbollah’s campaign was part of a broader propaganda effort to enshrine extremist Islamic values and maintain the inferior status of women.
Not surprisingly, there are no women at the forefront of the organization’s leadership. It seems that while Hezbollah will indiscriminately exploit the Lebanese population – women and men alike – oppressive values remain at the core of the group’s ideology.
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