Islamic Jihad

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(Jihad al-Islami). Also called Organization of Islamic Jihad. Lebanese organization founded by members of Hizb Allah in 1982 and used by Hizb Allah for covert operations. Leadership is shared with Hizb Allah to the extent that some prominent leaders of Hizb Allah have claimed Islamic Jihad activities as their own. High profile and great prestige in challenging the United States and the West due to use of violent means, such as bombings and hostage taking. Goal is the establishment of an Islamic state in Lebanon. Support is limited to a segment of the Shii community. Claimed responsibility for the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Lebanon on 18 April 1983 and the bombing of the U.S. Marine Headquarters of Multinational Forces (MNF) and its French contingent there on 23 October 1983. Also responsible for kidnapping of American and European nationals in Lebanon, beginning with the abduction of the acting president of the American University of Beirut in 1982. Hostage taking continued until 1988; the last American hostage was released in 1991. Major patrons are Syria and Iran. Syria has consistently refused to disarm it and uses it to undermine Western influence in Lebanon and to dominate the country politically and militarily. Iran used its influence with Islamic Jihad to create the arms-for-hostages deal central to the Iran-contra affair; it has also used Islamic Jihad to gain a foothold in Lebanon and to exercise significant influence there among Shiis. Islamic Jihad shares organizational links and sometimes coordinates activities with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization, but the two are separate organizations.

Subjects: Islam.

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