Hezbollah began as a revolutionary, guerilla group in southern Lebanon to bring justice and rights to outcast Shia Muslims. The Shia community naturally grew at a great pace during the 1960s-70s because of the high fertility rate of the average Shia women compared to Christian and Sunni women, the predominant religions in Lebanon at the time. In the early 1980s, Hezbollah transitioned from a guerilla group to a developed organization with followers and growing government status. With the support of Shia Iran and Syria, Hezbollah managed to train capable soldiers and build a militia to launch attacks on Israel and any other group willing to stand against them.
Since Lebanon was a weak state with a high rate of unemployment in the 1980s, Shia Muslims were attracted to the benefits Hezbollah offered them in exchange for joining their military. Fred Hof, author at the Atlantic Council would argue that Hezbollah, widely known as a “state within a state” is more accurately a “state within a non- state”. Hezbollah has been providing the cohesiveness of an actual government that the Lebanese government has lacked. Lebanon’s government seems inferior and defenseless relative to the strength of Hezbollah and its movement. When questioned about their autonomous actions by the Lebanese, Hezbollah has not held back in deploying fighters to eliminate the malcontents. In 2008, the Lebanese government failed to knock down Hezbollah’s illegal networking system, because Hezbollah deployed its fighters to West Beirut as a response which provoked the Lebanese government to back down. The popularity of Hezbollah allowed them to grow to the most dominant Shia political party and a highly organized group able to withstand the Lebanese government. They are currently at an official level of a statelet within a state and hold 26 seats in the Lebanese parliament. Their popularity grew far out of their home base, Beirut, from other cities in Lebanon where their flags stretched along the highways of Baalbek to North America where they have stationed agents for external activities.
Hezbollah’s external attack-planning group, the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO), is well known for targeting Israelis in New York and reporting them to Hezbollah for surveillance and possible execution. Ali Kourani was an external Hezbollah operative stationed in New York, China and Thailand who was arrested for external terrorism. While in China, Kourani’s goal was to obtain the procured chemicals used to make bombs, as Hezbollah has been behind many bombings, especially of Jewish communities. Hezbollah transcends a typical guerilla group with their well-planned and large attacks only a government would typically be able to pull off. Hezbollah’s classification as a terrorist group seems too far fetched to some, whereas others, such as the United States, strongly consider them a textbook definition of a terrorist group. Yes, they have engaged in violence against groups, but they have also promoted their name through building hospitals and other non-violent means. In the European’s eyes, Hezbollah is more of a ruling political party than a terrorist group.
In the past, Hezbollah just wanted to focus on being a revolutionary group for Shiites. They have succeeded in protecting themselves as jihadists, and many of its followers see their political party as the only one lacking corruption. Now, they have gotten so large that they have the most political resources at their disposal than any other party, including a support system to families whose sons have been killed fighting for Hezbollah. Hezbollah as a political party has enough power and support behind them to one day become the official government of Lebanon.