Hezbollah cells: Who are the basijis and IRGC?

By Lee Kaplan, Analyst,  Communications Director, Northeast Intelligence Network

The average American knows very little about Hezbollah, the Iranian terrorist proxy that appears on the evening news as operating mainly in Lebanon as a threat to Israel’s northern border. One of the purposes of this article is to explain in laymen’s terms what Hezbollah is and about its presence here in the US in what could be called “sleeper cells” that are poised to assist the Iranian regime that the US government is confronting over Iran’s nuclear and missile program. Another key purpose of this article will be to point out a Hezbollah cell operating under our noses right here in San Jose, California, heretofore unknown to the general population.

In the US, intelligence sources suggest there are least a dozen Hezbollah cells across the United States, each including a hard core of several dozen suspected terrorists. These are known to operate primarily in Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Boston including a number with military training in Hezbollah camps – plus hundreds of supporters. Indictments have been handed out primarily in Detroit that hosts one of the largest Muslim populations. The concern of US intelligence officials  is that Hezbollah – among other groups – may have implanted U.S.-based sleeper cells not only to raise money (as has already been done through credit card fraud and cigarette tax fraud), but also to orchestrate domestic terrorist attacks if the US or Israel takes military action against Iran’s nuclear program. U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials are missing the boat, however, when it comes to San Jose California’s Silicon Valley, where a Hezbollah cell is also operating but has not garnered much in the way of media attention—yet. What is also under the radar is how these cells such as the one in San Jose are also seeking to recruit from America’s minority community to swell their ranks from those who perceive themselves as part of America’s disadvantaged minorities. For now, nobody may be planning terrorist attacks, but can we count on that not changing in time of war? Or, for that matter, there being a safe house in our midst for those who do?

Hezbollah’s infrastructure within the U.S. to date  has mostly given financial and logistical support for a focused and successful guerilla war from Lebanon against Israel overseas and for a propaganda war in favor of the Palestinians here in the US. In fact, at demonstrations against Israel in the San Francisco Bay Area, most people might assume that all the demonstrators are Palestinian Arabs, not Arabs from Hezbollah operating under the control of the regime in Iran under the leadership of Iranians. As a fighting force inside America, Hezbollah’s sleepers have yet to be tested. But the first step in any security-related test should be to distinguish where those sleeper cells are so the average American, Muslim or non-Muslim, can keep an eye on them.

With the Iranian revolution that took place in 1979 under then President Jimmy Carter, the regime in Iran that took over from the Shah became known as the Velayat-e Faqih regime headed by the now deceased imam, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini whose administration also led the hostage takeover of the US embassy in Tehran. Velayat-e Faqih means “governance of the jurist,” the jurist being the late Ayatollah Khomeini.  Although this regime and the Muslims of Iran are Shias (followers of Mohammed’s son-in-law, thus keeping leadership of the Caliphate in the family of Mohammed as appointed leaders by Allah) as opposed to Sunnis (those who favored electing a new leader), the Shias began developing a strong presence in Lebanon by uniting all Arabs there in opposition to Israel and the US. Today in Lebanon, while the majority of Hezbollah are Shia Arabs, there are also some Druze and others in Hezbollah. The Shia presence though, in Lebanon, is also bolstered by Syria, whose Allawite leaders are an obscure Shia community of Muslims who rule over the much larger Sunni population in that neighboring country. It is their mutual antipathy to Israel that keeps these two factions working toward the same end. As proxies for Iran, the Hezbollah also have Iranian or Persian leaders and advisers working with them.

The late Ayatollah Khomeini

Since its takeover in Iran, the Velayat-e Faqih regime is very repressive, ultimately fascist in its policies toward the Iranian people, a policy that is also passed on to their proxy military and political force of Lebanese Arabs in Hezbollah to also be promoted abroad. Most Iranians and even many Sunni Arabs who emigrated to the US during the latter half of the 20th century did so to escape such oppressive governments and societies that persecuted Jews, women, free speech and assembly and still do to this day. But now, this fascist ideology is being inculcated among American Muslims whenever possible, and in particular among young people here who cannot relate to the repression back in the Middle East. Enforcers have been sent here to the mosques in the US to spy on both Shia expatriates from Iran or Lebanon to see what they are up to, and also to recruit among America’s younger Shias and other Muslims from within. Opposition to Israel is the glue for this program, but America is the long range target.

Few Americans know that during the riots in Iran a year ago in which the Iranian people demanded more freedoms, part of the contingents of thugs who beat up and even killed some of the protestors were Hezbollah members, notably Palestinian Arabs from Lebanon and even the West Bank, who were brought in to do the dirty work for the Velayat-e Figh regime. Working with these enforcers were the IRGC or Iranian Royal Guard Corps, a militarized group or “army within an army” of Khomeinists loyal to the Mullahs and separate from the regular Iranian Army. Another specialized group, the Basij was also involved. The Basij originated during Iran’s eight-year-long war with Iraq, when youngsters were recruited into the Basij and given plastic keys made in Hong Kong that they were told were to be their keys to Paradise in the after- life as they were sent in human waves (frequently unarmed, sometimes even with only a Koran) against Iraqi gun emplacements. Part of the Ayatollah Khomeini’s strategy back then was to make every household in Iran “bleed” so as the commit the entire country in its Holy War against Saddam Hussein, another tyrant and dictator, but a Sunni Muslim. The Basij developed into a fanatical wing of the Islamic dictatorship whose members are just as willing to self-sacrifice themselves to the Mullahs as their earlier counterparts were during the Iran-Iraq War, an effort that helped gain victory for Iran.

The Bisijis wear an easily identifiable scarf in black and while around their necks to denote who they are. They do this in both Iran and here in San Jose. When seen at demonstrations, most laymen would think the scarves symbolize the Palestinian movement because the colors are the same. However, if one looks closely they are different and to Iranian and Muslim members of the Bay Area community who fled Iran, they know what they mean.

Although both are black and white, the Basij scarf  is different from the Palestinian keffiyah on closer inspection. To most people in the US they are not distinguishable. At left above, Basij supporters celebrate Huseyn Day in San Jose, California.

Just as with the demonstrators in Iran being under the eye of the IRGC and the Basij, Hezbollah loyalists who are now operating from cells in the US are here not to flee Iran’s totalitarian system as much as to spy on and control the Iranian and Shia population here in the US. Their bases of operation for this are in the mosques.


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