Matt Nash

Party of odd

New Arab Islamic Resistance raises a question: who?

As missiles rained on Gaza’s residents on the 12th day of Israel’s offensive, Sayyed Mohamed Ali al-Husseini granted Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya news channel an exclusive interview.

He declared himself the leader of a new, 3,000-man strong militia in Lebanon – the Arab Islamic Resistance – dedicated to fighting Israel. The next day a volley of rockets from Lebanon slammed into the Jewish State.

“I have no comment,” Husseini told NOW Lebanon when asked if his militia fired the rockets. He spoke with a calm confidence during an hour-long interview in his sparsely decorated office in Mrejeh, a southern suburb of Beirut, deep in the power center of the country’s other Islamic Resistance, Hezbollah.

He announced the existence of his armed group on January 7, but he told NOW he’d been amassing and training men for over seven months. Furthermore, some 1,500 Gulf residents expressed interest in joining the militia, he said. When they’ll arrive to train and fight in Lebanon is yet to be determined.

Central to the group’s identity is Arabism. (So central, in fact, they named a homemade rocket they created by improving on a Katyusha the “Arabism” rocket.) Husseini and his troops reject Hezbollah’s Iranian ties and plan to run candidates from the Arab Islamic Resistance against the party in the 2009 elections.

Despite the Arab Islamic Resistance’s open and vocal opposition to Hezbollah, the Party of God has remained silent. They have not threatened Husseini as they are accused of doing to other anti-Hezbollah Shia politicians and religious figures. A Hezbollah press spokeswoman told NOW the party had no comment on Husseini or his new Resistance.

Husseini said he trained his thousands of fighters – firing guns and test-firing rockets – north of Lebanon’s Litani River. He would not specify where exactly, and surprisingly said the fighters never encountered any opposition from the Lebanese army or anyone else for that matter.

“It’s Lebanon,” he offered, briefly speaking in English. He displayed pictures of armed men in a forest with himself pouring over a map that was clearly not one of the military maps armed fighters usually use when training.

Resistance watchers – analysts, authors and journalists – contacted by NOW said they’d never heard of Husseini and found it strange it took a television interview to bring a 3,000-strong actively-training force to come to light. Wouldn’t someone have noticed them earlier, was the resounding refrain.   

In fact, it was quite a challenge finding people who knew much about Husseini.

“I doubt his wife supports him,” one religious leader said, after making yet another phone call on the ancient Panasonic fax machine at his side to a colleague in search of information on Husseini. In fact, interview after interview ended with the same conclusion: This is mostly talk.

Husseini elusively said his funding comes from Arabs locally and abroad. From other sources, the usual conspiracy theories that the US and Saudi Arabia were funneling him cash flowed freely. One person contacted for this article, Sam Bazzi, a Lebanese living in America who runs a website that monitors terrorist activities, claimed Husseini’s money comes from Iran and that he is, in fact, an undercover Hezbollah agent.

Hezbollah’s spokeswoman did not stay on the phone long enough to respond to that specific accusation.

Husseini himself was elusive about his past. He refused to say where in Lebanon he was born, preferring to merely be known as Lebanese.

News reports about him mention time he spent in an Iranian prison. He merely confirmed this and attributed it to his opposition to the Wilayat al-Faqih (the Guardianship of the Jurist), the religious doctrine adopted by Iran that gives the country’s top cleric absolute authority on every issue.

He also confirmed but would not elaborate on the time in October 2007 when his car fell apart as he drove toward the city of Sur. At the time, he told Iraq’s Yaqen news agency that members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard poured acid on the vehicle’s frame in an attempt on his life.

What is known is that Husseini studied Islam in Qom, Iran, where he learned and apparently accepted the doctrine of Wilayat al-Faqih (a book he wrote in 2004 offered praise for Ayatollah Khomeini). By late 2004 he clearly rejected the doctrine, but refused to discuss these moments from his past.

While in Qom, he also befriended Hassan Nasrallah and for some time was a member of Hezbollah. Husseini says he and Nasrallah are still close friends. He even said his name was once floated as a possible successor to Nasrallah as Hezbollah’s secretary general, a claim analysts find difficult to swallow.

“This I know for a fact, he was never high- or mid-ranking even,” said Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, the author of 2001’s Hezbollah: Politics and Religion.

Husseini described the only difference between his party and Hezbollah as Iran.

“Hezbollah has an organization, we have an organization,” he said. “Hezbollah has a resistance, we have a resistance. Hezbollah has a political platform; we have a political platform… Hezbollah is in Dahiyeh and the South; we are in Dahiyeh and the South.”

Iran, he said, was the only wedge between them. He even wrote off secular Shia parties, saying only a cleric has real authority to lead a political party from the Shia community.

“Hezbollah and me,” he said

“I doubt his wife supports him.”

  • arabicmajlis

    Mr. Mohamad Ali El Husseini-lebanese -Seeking political resorting . The Lebanese Court's decision to acquit Shi'ite cleric Mr. Mohamad Ali El Husseini - leader of the Arab-Islamic council in Lebanon and the Anti-Hezbollah and anti-Iranian policy in the region - from charges of collaboration with Israel was not enough to release him. This prompted the Council to launch an extensive campaign to pressure on authorities to release him. The Arab Islamic Council has launched an extensive campaign to ask Lebanese authorities for implementation on military court verdict to release Mr. Mohamad Ali el Husseini. Who was acquitted of charges collaboration with Israel. * *The council said in a press statement that it has launched political, human rights, humanitarian and popular campaign to ask the Lebanese Republic for the implementation on military court verdict to release el- Husseini Immediately. The council has called all interested and solidarity from any Arab or foreign co

    October 21, 2011

  • mahmood

    No power in the world since 1945 made the jewish beasts suffer from disgrace as the great HizbAllah, they made all free people in the world marsh in pride ...

    June 5, 2010

  • essam

    same but in name & logo...a diversion from future International pressure on Hizbo , now member of the Government & getting more involved politically..the name in itself is a non-starter, covering the Arab World, thats mainly Sunni, and is led by a Shiaa(Sayyed Hussaini) !! ...exaggerated claims of the numbers & training location, as such not required being Hizbo's members... if its true, well,lets the Security services take action..cut the roots before the branch.

    January 29, 2009

  • Sami

    These are your words"The entire logo is unauthentic and reflects the hypoc ".These also are your words:"There is certainly a message in the logo".Jabal Amel, make up your mind,is it authentic or not?And by the way, change your name , it is not either a jabal nor is it a Amel.

    January 29, 2009

  • moltisanti

    Sami, if HA controls 80% of Lebanon, then why are you asking for more power in the country ?

    January 29, 2009

  • Jabal Amel

    There is certainly a message in the logo. As I know that the Arab Islamic Resistance (AIR) was created by Hezbollah, I see that the organization is "teasing" its observers. She is setting up a paradox: She is saying AIR is NOT Hezbollah yet hinting that AIR is Hezbollah. This is evident from Husseini final comment in the article: "Hezbollah and me." These are intel games...

    January 29, 2009

  • Sami

    7ayartoona,one day you declare that Hizballah lost the 2006 war by being pushed out of the south to beyond the Litani river, another day you assure us that "nothing happens in the south without the knowledge of Hizballah".Make up your minds, does HA control the south,and other areas all the way to Jbail,or not.I declare without any hesitations that HA controls, militarily,all of the south,the eastern Lebanese areas and sa7el road all the way to Jounieh(kammasheh).If one includes HA's allies then HA controls more than 80% of Lebanon both politically and militarily.Jabal Amel, is this logo authentic and the symbolism as you state is true or is it unauthentic as you state which makes you analysis contradictory in the same comment.

    January 28, 2009

  • Hovig

    Other than being a rogue, the real story here is that anyone can start a militia with some weapons, financing and a regional political support, You dont even need 3,000 fighters, Fatah Al Islam supposedly had less tha 300 and look what IT was able to do. After all is said and done, its clear that Hezballa lost its lucluster and the very little credibility it had after May 7.

    January 27, 2009

  • ahmed

    I agree with Jabal Amel, Nothing happnes in the South without Hezballah knowing about it.

    January 27, 2009

  • Jabal Amel

    The other thing to note about Mohamed Ali al-Husseini is that he does not view himself as a political because he has been assigned a "higher" task by Ali Khamenei: Preserving the "Islamic Resistance" and its "holy" weapons and by extension preserving the first line of defense of the Wilayat al-Faqih regime in Iran. Furthermore, Husseini thinks that he is hastening the appearance of the 12th Imam with his actions, as the Wilayat-e Faqih regime markets itself as the "mumahideen" (those who pave the way) for Imam Mahid, PBUH, to appear...

    January 27, 2009

  • Sami

    Jabal Amel, you have a wild imagination.

    January 27, 2009

  • Jabal Amel

    Hezbollah has split its personality: It created a "new" organization that is not new at all, for Hezbollah and its Arab Islamic Majlis are one and the same! Husseini is Hezbollah and he is not even hiding it: The new logo, which does not make sense, just the like the so-called organization Husseini and Hezbollah claim to have created (as it is a staged ghost organization that exists only in news reports and on web pages), has a YELLOW background. The new logo has two arms, symbolizing the Hezbollah split personality. The AK-47 symbolizes the leftist godless link of both Hezbollah and its so-called Arab Islamic Majlis. The open book suggests a Holy Qur'an; however, the book has a map of the Arab World on it, which is sacrilege, as Islam can never be limited to specific geography. The bleeding rose symbolizes the roses placed by Iranian protesters in the muzzles of the rifles of Iranian soldiers during the Iranian revolution of 1979. The entire logo is unauthentic and reflects the hypoc

    January 27, 2009

  • zk

    Don't you think it's great when any person in Lebanon can set up his own militia just like setting up his own business? All it takes is a business plan built around 'resistance', religious cover for credibility, a few willing investors, some weapons and soon enough you have your very own personal militia! During the 5 year forecast and return on investment analysis within the militia business plan, don't forget to include a couple of political assassinations, potential seats in parliament, personal phone network, a few hospitals and schools here and there, copying the logo of the militia market leader - your biggest competitor! I believe that setting up a militia in Lebanon these days is easier than getting many permits for legal business from the Government. Bringing in a container of weapons through the port is probably easier than bringing in clothes or legal products. I wonder if militias pay VAT tax, or income tax or dividend tax or customs tax or any kind of tax? Lebanon will

    January 27, 2009

  • Unknown

    Wow, that just tops it in Lebanon, Not only do we have resistence group that is starting in 2009, but also we have the New York times that declares Beirut the No. 1 place to visit!!!

    January 27, 2009