Hassan Nasrallah

Hassan Nasrallah
حسن نصر الله
Secretary-General of Hezbollah
Assumed office
16 February 1992
Deputy Naim Qassem
Preceded by Abbas al-Musawi
Personal details
Born (1960-08-31) 31 August 1960
Bourj Hammoud, Lebanon
Nationality Lebanese
Political party Hezbollah
Religion Shia Islam (Twelver)

Hassan Nasrallah (Arabic: حسن نصرالله Arabic pronunciation: [ħasan nasˁrɑɫɫɑh]; born 31 August 1960) is the third Secretary General of the Lebanese political and paramilitary party Hezbollah since his predecessor, Abbas al-Musawi, was assassinated by the Israel Defense Forces in February 1992.[1] Hezbollah has since been designated a terrorist organization, either wholly or in part, by the United States, European Union and other nations.[2] Nasrallah is often referred to as "al-Sayyid Hassan" (السيّد حسن), the honorific "Sayyid" denoting descent from the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandson Husain ibn Ali.

Early life and education

Hasan Nasrallah was born the ninth of ten children into a Shia family in Bourj Hammoud, Matn District (an eastern suburb of Beirut) on 31 August 1960.[3] His father, Abdul Karim, was born in Bazourieh, a village in Jabal Amel (South Republic of Lebanon) located near Tyre. Although his family was not particularly religious, Hassan was interested in theological studies. He attended an-Najah school and later a public school in the predominantly Christian neighborhood of Sin el Fil Beirut.[1][3]

In 1975, the Lebanese Civil War forced the family including 15 years old Nasrallah to move to their ancestral home in Bazourieh,[3][1][4] where Nasrallah completed his secondary education at the public school of Sour (Tyre). Here he attended secondary school, and briefly joined the Amal Movement, a Lebanese Shi'a political group.[3][1][4]

Nasrallah studied at the Shi'a seminary in the Beqaa Valley town of Baalbek. The school followed the teachings of Iraqi-born Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr, who founded the Dawa movement in Najaf, Iraq during the early 1960s.[5]

Subsequently, he went for a period of Islamic study at a Shiite seminary in Najaf, Iraq.[3] Nasrallah was forced to return to Lebanon in 1979, by that time having completed the first part of his study, as Saddam Hussein was expelling many Shia's,[3] including Khomeini and Abbas Musawi a year earlier.[6] Back in Lebanon, he studied and taught at the school of Amal’s leader Abbas al-Musawi, later being selected as Amal's political delegate in Beqaa, and making him a member of the central political office. Around the same time, in 1980, Saddam Hussein had Sadr executed.

Early activities

Nasrallah joined Hezbollah after the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.[1] He became noted for his sharp and fiery sermons. In 1989, Hassan Nasrallah traveled to Qom, Iran, where he furthered his religious studies.[3][7][8]

Nasrallah believes that Islam holds the solution to the problems of any society, once saying, "With respect to us, briefly, Islam is not a simple religion including only prayers and praises, rather it is a divine message that was designed for humanity, and it can answer any question man might ask concerning his general and personal life. Islam is a religion designed for a society that can revolt and build a community."[1]

In 1991, Abbas al-Musawi became secretary general of Hezbollah and Nasrallah returned to Lebanon. Nasrallah replaced Musawi as Hezbollah's leader after the latter was killed by an Israeli airstrike.[9] Nasrallah lived in South Beirut with his wife Fatimah Yasin (who comes from the Lebanese village of Al-Abbasiyah)[4] and five children: Muhammad Hadi (died 1997), Muhammad Javed, Zainab, Muhammad Ali and Muhammad Mahdi. In September 1997, his eldest son Muhammad Hadi, was killed in battle with Israeli soldiers, after a Navy commando unit operation in which 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in Jabal al-Rafei in the South of Lebanon.[4][10]

Leadership of Hezbollah

Nasrallah became the leader of Hezbollah after the Israelis assassinated the previous leader, Musawi, in 1992.[1][4] During Nasrallah's leadership, Hezbollah acquired rockets with a longer range, which allowed them to strike at northern Israel despite the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. In 1993 Israel carried out Operation Accountability. Much Lebanese infrastructure was destroyed during the operation, which Israel claimed was successful. An agreement was eventually reached whereby, Israel ended its attacks in Lebanon and Hezbollah agreed to stop attacks on northern Israel.

However, after a short pause, hostilities resumed. In 1996 Israel launched Operation Grapes of Wrath, blocking important Lebanese harbour cities and bombing a Syrian military base. After 16 days of Israeli attacks in Lebanon, the Israeli–Lebanese Ceasefire Understanding was agreed upon. Again, Hezbollah agreed to stop rocket attacks in exchange for Israel halting its attacks. However, as in 1993, the peace did not last for long.

In Israel, it was increasingly debated whether the presence of Israeli forces in southern Lebanon was working, since it was clear that the 'security zone' could not stop Hezbollah rockets reaching into Israel. After heavy Israeli casualties in south lebanon, some Israeli politicians argued that the conflict would only end if Israel withdrew from Lebanon. In 2000 Ehud Barak finally withdrew Israeli forces from Lebanon. Following the Israeli withdrawal, the South Lebanon Army, which was supported by Israel, was quickly overrun by Hezbollah. Some SLA members escaped to Israel, but many were captured by Hezbollah. This success against Israel greatly increased Hezbollah's popularity within Lebanon and the Islamic world.[1]

Consequently, Nasrallah is widely credited in Lebanon and the Arab world for ending the Israeli occupation of the South of Lebanon, something which has greatly bolstered the party's political standing within Lebanon.[11]

Nasrallah also played a major role in a complex prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hezbollah in 2004, resulting in hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners being freed and many bodies, including that of his son, being returned to Lebanon. The agreement was described across the Arab world as a magnificent victory for Hezbollah, and Nasrallah was personally praised for achieving these gains.[12]

A December article in the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat stated that command of the organization's military wing was transferred from Nasrallah to his deputy, Na'im Qasim in August 2007.[13] Hezbollah denied this suggestion, declaring it an attempt to "weaken the popularity" of the movement.[14]

In October 2008, Hashim Safi Al Din, his cousin, was assigned to succeed Nasrallah as secretary general of Hezbollah.[15]

Memorandum of Understanding with Free Patriotic Movement

Nasrallah negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with the Free Patriotic Movement headed by Michel Aoun, the former premier and a Maronite Christian. Aoun described the ten-point MoU in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal published on 31 July 2006. A key point is that Hezbollah agreed to disarm upon the return of its prisoners and the occupied Shebaa Farms. It also agreed to the pardon and return of fugitive South Lebanon Army (SLA) members. The Free Patriotic Movement in turn agreed to work for reform of the confessional electoral system of the Parliament of Lebanon and move it in the direction of one man, one vote. Aoun made the point that the political process was in effect disarming Hezbollah without any loss in lives from unnecessary wars.[16] Critics of this agreement say that is not very clear concerning the disarmament, and that it served to strengthen Hezbollah internally, giving it a non-Shiite cover inside .

2006 Israel–Lebanon conflict

Main article: 2006 Lebanon War

Following an ambush by Hezbollah in Israeli territory that left three soldiers dead and two abducted,[17] the 2006 Lebanon War started. During the war Israeli bombardments seeking Hezbollah targets caused damage in many parts of Beirut, especially the poorer and largely Shiite South Beirut, which is controlled by Hezbollah. On 3 August 2006, Hasan Nasrallah vowed to strike Tel Aviv in retaliation for Israel's bombardment of Lebanon's capital. "If you hit Beirut, the Islamic resistance will hit Tel Aviv and is able to do that with God's help," Nasrallah said in a televised address. He added that Hezbollah forces were inflicting heavy casualties on Israeli ground troops.[18]

During the conflict, Nasrallah came under intense criticism from Arab countries, including Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Jordan's King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned on 14 July of the risk of "the region being dragged into adventurism that does not serve Arab interests," while the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal called the Hezbollah attacks "unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts." He went further, saying, "These acts will pull the whole region back to years ago, and we cannot simply accept them."[19]

Nasrallah also came under intense criticism from some in Lebanon. Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party of the Republic of Lebanon and the most prominent leader of the Druze community, spoke out quite forcefully: "Great, so he's a hero. But I'd like to challenge this heroism of his. I have the right to challenge it, because my country is in flames. Besides, we did not agree..."[20] Jumblatt is also quoted as saying: "He is willing to let the Lebanese capital burn while he haggles over terms of surrender."

Following the war, came what is known as the "Green Flood" (Al-sayl al-akhdhar), according to Iranian-born journalist Amir Taheri. "This refers to the massive amounts of U.S. dollar notes that Hezbollah is distributing among all the citizens that were effected from the war in Beirut and the south. The dollars from Iran are ferried to Beirut via Syria and distributed through networks of militants. Anyone who can prove that his home was damaged in the war receives $12,000, a tidy sum in wartorn Lebanon."[21]

In a TV interview aired on Lebanon's New TV station on 27 August 2006, Nasrallah said that he would not have ordered the capture of two Israeli soldiers if he had known it would lead to such a war: "We do not think, even one percent, that the capture led to a war at this time and of this magnitude. I'm convinced and sure that this war was planned and that the capture of these hostages was just their excuse to start their pre-planned war, but if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not."[22][23]

Syrian Civil War

On 25 May 2013, Nasrallah announced that Hezbollah is fighting in the Syrian Civil War against "Islamist extremists" and "pledged that his group will not allow Syrian militants to control areas that border Lebanon".[24] He confirmed that Hezbollah was fighting in the strategic Syrian town of Qusair on the same side as the Syrian army.[24] In the televised address, he said, "If Syria falls in the hands of America, Israel and the takfiris, the people of our region will go into a dark period."[24]

In July 2014, Nasrallah's nephew was killed fighting in Syria.[25]

Views on international politics

Pre-2000 Israeli occupation of Lebanon

On Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict

On 11 September 2001 attacks and the United States

Views attributed to Nasrallah

Nasrallah visiting Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Tehran, 1 August 2005

Alleged 2008 assassination attempt

Almalaf, an Iraqi news source on 15 October 2008, quoted sources in Lebanon saying Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah had been poisoned the previous week and that he was saved by Iranian doctors who went to Lebanon to treat him. The sources told the paper that a particularly poisonous chemical substance was used against the Shi'a militia leader. His medical condition was apparently critical for several days until Iranian doctors came and managed to save his life. Almalaf claimed that the sources believed it was highly likely that the poisoning was an Israeli assassination attempt.[57]

Hezbollah denied that Nasrallah had been poisoned. Lebanese parliament member Al-Hajj Hassan, a member of Hezbollah, said: "This is a lie and a fabrication. It's true that I haven't seen Nasrallah this past week, but he's okay." The Iranian doctors arrived on Sunday at approximately 11:00 P.M., apparently on a special military flight. According to Almalaf officials considered flying Nasrallah to Iran for further treatment.

In September 1997, an Israeli Mossad team tried to assassinate Hamas political chief Khaled Mashal by drizzling poison in his ear.[58] The attempt failed, and two of the agents were captured while others took refuge in the Israeli embassy in Amman. Nasrallah's second-in-command Imad Mughniyah was assassinated in February 2008 in a Damascus bomb blast. Hezbollah accused Israel of responsibility for the explosion, although Israel denied responsibility for the act.[59] Nasrallah's predecessor Abbas al-Musawi was killed in an Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon in 1992.[60]

Nasrallah's denial of the alleged attempt

On 25 October 2008 in an interview with the Hezbollah owned Al-Manar channel, Nasrallah denied the assassination attempt, accusing the Israelis and Americans of fabricating the story and considering it as part of the ongoing psychological war against Hezbollah that aimed to imply that the party was suffering from internal disputes and assassination plots.[61]

He also explained that "if research was done on the internet websites posting such unfounded information, it would reveal that they are all being run from that same dark room, and that their aim is to serve American-Israeli interests."

He added that at first the organization had considered denying the false information with a written message, "but when the news agencies began to publish it we decided to hold a televised interview, and here I am before you telling you I was not poisoned."[62]

Two popular songs were written about Nasrallah during the 2006 Israel–Hezbollah War, with vastly different views of the Hezbollah leader: The Hawk of Lebanon in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and "Yalla Ya Nasrallah". , against Nasrallah, in Israel. In 2007 Lebanese singer Alaa Zalzali composed a tribute song entitled Ya Nasrallah. Another popular song composed in tribute to him was by Lebanese Christian singer Julia Boutros, called "Ahebba'i" meaning "my loved ones", which was inspired by Nasrallah's words in a televised message he sent to Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon during the 2006 War.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Profile: Sayed Hassan Nasrallah". Al Jazeera. 17 July 2000. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  2. http://www.cfr.org/lebanon/hezbollah-k-hizbollah-hizbullah/p9155
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Tucker & Roberts 2008, p. 727.
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  5. O'Dwyer, Thomas. "Hizbullah's ruthless realist". Violence and Terrorism 2000, p. 70. Dushkin/McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0-07-031072-6. -"He has lived up to our initial assessment," said an Israeli intelligence source. "He is tough, but more intellectual in a broader sense than Musawi. But he has steered close to Musawi's line and kept good relations with Amal, the Syrians, and [Iran]." The source said Nasrallah has kept an eye on making Hezbollah a legitimate political force as well as a military one.
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  60. Dominic Waghorn (23 October 2008). "title". Sky News. Retrieved 21 December 2008. His predecessor Abbas al Musawi was killed in an Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon in 1992.
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Further reading

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Speeches and interviews

Party political offices
Preceded by
Sayyed Abbas al-Musawi
Secretary-General of Hezbollah
Succeeded by
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