Hizballah Spreading Radical Goals With Fund-Raising Drives

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:17 PM EDT

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Hizballah is spreading its destruction-of-Israel ideology at the same time it collects money from the local Lebanese population, an expert here said on Tuesday.

The ceasefire and the implementation of United Nations resolution 1701 does nothing to stop the indoctrination and spread of that propaganda, said Dr. Reuven Erlich, head of the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) at the Center for Special Studies near Tel Aviv (an organization dedicated to fallen Israeli Intelligence agents).

"Hizballah is giving priority to social work and indoctrination, mainly among the youngsters," said Erlich. He said Hizballah raises money to buy weapons and combines its fundraising with indoctrination.

"They are raising funds together with indoctrination and distributing Islamic radical ideas about Jihad (holy war) to young people," Erlich said.

"It's very, very difficult, almost impossible to stop the [indoctrination] activity even in the schools," Erlich in a telephone interview. The government of Lebanon is weak, not only militarily, but also in filling the vacuum in southern Lebanon, he said.

Israeli soldiers confiscated indoctrination and propaganda materials during the recent Israeli-Hizballah conflict in southern Lebanon.

It included materials from the Islamic Resistance Support Association (IRSA), a Hizballah institution that raises funds and spreads propaganda. Some of those seized materials were published by the ITIC in a report released last Friday.

Established in 1989, the IRSA works through a Hizballah bank that Israel attacked during the war. It is not clear how much money the group collects but it is said to be "considerable" -- coming from the Lebanese private and public sectors, including businesses, mosques, education institutions and other concerns.

According to the ITIC, the IRSA at one time raised money in Detroit, Mich., which has a large Shi'ite Muslim population.

The IRSA plays an "important role in the battle for the hearts and minds" of young people, as indicated in the seized documents, the ITIC report said.

"The intention is to instill the youth with principles of Hizballah's radical Islamic ideology and the concept of the jihad against Israel and the struggle against the United States and the West according to the Shi'ite Islamic ideology exported by Iran to Lebanon," it said.

Pictured on one IRSA pamphlet is a collection box in the shape of the Dome of the Rock -- the Islamic shrine on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem -- bearing a portrait of Abbas Musawi, a former Hizballah leader killed by Israel.

The little "bank" is suspended in the air. Coins dropped into it from above become bullets as they shoot out the bottom, shattering a Jewish Star of David below.

"The leaflet's illustration makes it clear that the contributions will be used to buy weapons to destroy Israel," the report said.

The text of the leaflet says: "So that all our houses may be [part of the] resistance." It also says, "The resistance collection box is small and placed inside the house so that all members of the family will sense the importance of participating in supporting the resistance by contributing." Volunteers will collect the contributions monthly, it adds.

In the village of Aita al Sha'ab near the Israeli border, Israeli forces also found an IRSA fundraising kit geared toward children.

It included a quiz with questions about Hizballah and Israel, including one about the location of a particular suicide bomb attack.

The kit includes an envelope for contributions, and it asks for the name, age, school, address and telephone number of the donor.

"The target audience is school children," the ITIC report said.

For years, Hizballah has built its support base among the Shiite Muslim community in southern Lebanon by running schools, hospitals and charitable institutions.

Since the end of the war, Hizballah -- with Iranian backing -- has been handing out millions of dollars to the poor and homeless and has offered to help rebuild Lebanese homes destroyed during the fighting.

Subscribe to the free CNSNews.com daily E-Brief.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.