Established in 1982 at the initiative of a group of Shia clerics who were adherents of Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, by 1987 Hizballah (Party of God) was the second most important Shia organization. Fadlallah, who was born in southern Lebanon but educated in An Najaf, Iraq, moved to East Beirut, where he wrote books on Islamic jurisprudence. Having been evicted by Christian forces during the fighting in 1976, he relocated in Beirut's southern suburbs. Fadlallah continued his work and developed a following, which later evolved into Hizballah.
In 1987 Hizballah followed strictly the theological line of Iran's Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini and called for the establishment in Lebanon of Islamic rule modeled on that of Iran. In pursuit of this goal, the party had developed close ties with Iranian representatives in Lebanon and Syria. In terms of secular policies, Hizballah rejected any compromise with Lebanese Christians, Israel, and the United States. This hardline approach appealed to many Shias, who abandoned the mainstream Amal movement to join Hizballah. These members tended to be young, radical, and poor.
The party's internal structure revolved around the Consultative Council (Majlis ash Shura), a twelve-member body, most of whom were clerics. The council divided among its members responsibilities that covered, among other matters, financial, military, judicial, social, and political affairs. The party's operations were geographically organized, with branches in Al Biqa and Al Janub provinces and in West Beirut and its southern outskirts. Among prominent Hizballah leaders in late 1987 were Shaykh Ibrahim al Amin, Shaykh Subhi at Tufayli, Shaykh Hasan Nasrallah, Shaykh Abbas al Musawi, and Husayn al Musawi; Fadlallah insisted that he had no formal organizational role but was merely Hizballah's inspirational leader.
Hizballah gained international attention in 1983 when press reports linked it to attacks against United States and French facilities in Lebanon, to the abduction of foreigners, and to the hijacking of aircraft. Nonetheless, Fadlallah (who was himself a target of a terrorist assassination attempt) and Hizballah spokesmen continued to deny any involvement in anti-American attacks.
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