NOW September 22, 2014 ISIS vs Hezbollah in numbers





The jihadist paramilitary group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which declared itself ruler of its own state in June after expanding its eastern Syrian stronghold into western Iraq, was described in August by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as "beyond just a terrorist group […] beyond anything that we've seen." Below, NOW puts this judgment in context by comparing ISIS's vital statistics to those of another formidable Islamist militia; Lebanon's Hezbollah.

As the data show, ISIS is believed to have more fighters than Hezbollah, and to enjoy more abundant finances. This is in part a result of the vast territory it controls – perhaps 10 times as much as Hezbollah does – in which over half a dozen lucrative oil fields are at its disposal.

On the other hand, Hezbollah has a much wider geographical reach, believed to be operating – whether militarily or financially – in over 45 countries. It is also more battle-hardened, having fought up to seven conventional armies in its three decades of existence. Moreover, while it controls less territory than ISIS, it is nonetheless "important to remember," said analyst Phillip Smyth, that the areas it does hold are of great "strategic" significance.
'Hezbollah and the army of 12,000', NOW, 4 July, 2013
'Hezbollah around the world', NOW, 18 July, 2013
'Hezbollah's Iran Money Trail: It's Complicated', Al-Akhbar, 31 July, 2012
'Hezbollah's Widening War Spreads to Iraq', The Daily Beast, 1 August, 2014
'How ISIS Works', New York Times, 16 September, 2014
'ISIS as Start-Up: Explosive Growth, Highly Disruptive, Super-Evil',, 24 August, 2014
'ISIS by the numbers: How big, strong and rich the militant organization may be', CBC News, 26 August, 2014
'US links Iran to attack in Iraq', BBC, 2 July, 2007
Interviews with subject matter experts: Phillip Smyth, researcher at the University of Maryland and author of Hizballah Cavalcade; Qassem Qassir, Lebanese analyst
ISIS vs Hezbollah Numbers
  • Eric Von Zipper

    You miss one of the points. What is hezbullah doing in all the other countries?

    October 10, 2014

  • Seriously NOW?

    HA turned in the fighter who downed the helicopter and he was imprisoned. Saudi & Qatari funding for ISIS is left out. Knee-jerking journalism incorporates info-graphics but remains equally despicable.

    September 23, 2014

  • ED.

    This is the stupidest comparison I have ever seen

    September 22, 2014

  • Fadd

    You failed to mention that hebollah enjoys support of a large portion of Lebanese Shiites; this may not apply to ISIS who cannot rely on direct support of Sunni polulation in areas controlled by this organisation.

    September 22, 2014