Based in Baalbek in the Biqa Valley, Islamic Amal was led by Husayn al Musawi, who was also a leading figure in Hizballah. The movement got its start in June 1982 when Nabih Birri, the head of Amal, agreed to participate in the Salvation Committee, a body set up by President Ilyas Sarkis following the Israeli invasion. The committee included Bashir Jumayyil, the much-despised Maronite commander of the LF. Musawi considered Birri's actions "treasonous" and Amal's orientation too secular. In response, Musawi broke from Amal and set up his own faction, which observers believed was organized primarily along family lines.
Islamic Amal was backed by officials in the Iranian government, and it coordinated with units of Iran's (Pasdaran) Revolutionary Guards stationed around Baalbek. Even so, in 1986 when Iranian officials pressured Musawi to dissolve his organization, he refused. He agreed, however, to remain part of Hizballah, and he reportedly served as a member of its Consultative Council. Press reports linked Islamic Amal, like Hizballah, to anti-Western violence in Lebanon. Although Musawi's rhetoric was vehemently anti-Western, as of late 1987 he had not claimed any violence in the name of Islamic Amal.
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