President and First Lady Reagan at Dover Air Force Base reviewing the remains of the 19 US diplomats, who along with 44 others, were murdered by a Hezbollah suicide bomber that attacked the US Embassy in Beirut in April 1983.
[Welcome JihadWatch and RoP readers!]
Twenty-four years ago this week, October 23, 1983, a truck laden with explosives rammed into the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing nearly 250 American military personnel who were serving as peacekeepers. One local columnist for the Newark Advocate, Marion Star, and regular Columbus Dispatch letter to the editor contributor, Mahmoud El-Yousseph of Westerville, who promotes his previous military service as though it immunizes him from criticism, openly praises and defends the group responsible for this atrocity.
Prior to 9/11, the terrorist group responsible for killing the most Americans was not Al-Qaeda, but Hezbollah, the Iranian and Syrian-backed Shi’ite terrorist group that has terrorized Lebanon for more than two decades. A particular target for Hezbollah terrorist activity has been American military personnel, as was the case with the Marine barracks bombing.
In a speech in September 2002, then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage described the danger of the organization: “Hezbollah may be the A team of terrorists and maybe al-Qaeda is actually the B team.”
Here’s a quick review of Hezbollah’s murderous tally against US military and government officials:
- Hezbollah made its debut in April 1983 by slamming a truck laden with explosives into the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63, including 19 Americans. After the attack, the embassy was moved to another location, which was also bombed in September 1984.
- Emboldened by their successful attack on the U.S. Embassy, Hezbollah launched another suicide bombing against the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut on October 23, 1983, causing 241 deaths — at that time the biggest loss for the Marines since Iwo Jima. Simultaneous with the attack on the Marine forces, Hezbollah bombed the barracks of French peacekeepers. An attack on Italian peacekeepers was foiled. Four months after the bombing, President Reagan ordered the withdrawal of American forces from Beirut, with France quickly following suit.
- Throughout the 1980s, Hezbollah was behind the kidnapping of many Westerners in Lebanon throughout the 1980s, including the capture and brutal murder of CIA Beirut Station Chief, William Buckley. Journalist Terry Anderson was kidnapped and would eventually spend 2,454 days in captivity, along with several officials from the American University of Beirut. In order to secure the release of the hostages, the Reagan administration covertly organized an arms-for-hostages deal with Hezbollah’s primary state-sponsor, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which would only result in the release of three American hostages.
- In June 1985, Hezbollah terrorists seized TWA Flight 847 en route from Athens to Rome, and diverted the plane to Beirut. When the terrorists demands were not met, a US Navy Seabee diver on board, Robert Dean Stethem, was shot and his body dumped on the airport tarmac. Other American military personnel were savagely beaten. The plane’s passengers and crew were held for 17 days. In the weeks that followed, Israel released a number of Shi’ite prisoners, though U.S. officials deny that there was a covert deal. Only one hijacker was ever captured and held for several years in Germany.
Navy diver Robert Dean Stetham, murdered by Mahmoud El-Yousseph’s “freedom fighters” and his body dumped on the Beirut airport tarmac.
- In 1990, Hezbollah captured, tortured, and eventually hanged Marine Corps Colonel Richard Higgins, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran who was on duty as an unarmed United Nations peacekeeper in Lebanon. His body was not recovered for another year. The story of Higgins’ life, captivity and murder is memorialized in a book written by his wife, Marine Lt. Col. Robin Higgins, Patriot Dreams: The Murder of Colonel Rich Higgins.
- A Saudi Hezbollah cell was involved in providing al-Qaeda operatives with explosives training in their June 1996 attack on the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 American Air Force servicemen with the 4404th Wing and injured more than 500 others. According to then-FBI Director Louis Freeh, in his 2002 Congressional testimony to the Joint Intelligence Committee: “The direct evidence obtained strongly indicated that the 1996 bombing was sanctioned, funded and directed by senior officials of the government of Iran.”
Here’s a video of El-Yousseph claiming that “Hezbollah are freedom liberation fighters” at an anti-Israel rally in July 2006 (at ~ 1:15 in the video; courtesy of hourglass1941, part of this blog post):
Additionally, El-Yousseph submitted the following letter to the editor to the Columbus Dispatch several years ago again praising Hezbollah, who are responsible for the murder of hundreds of Americans, as “freedom fighters” after the terror group captured (and eventually executed) Israeli soldiers — an act in violation of international law, though one El-Yousseph apparently approved of:
Why did Hezuballah captured [sic] Israeli soliders?What is especially sickening about El-Yousseph’s cheerleading for this terrorist organization is that he trumpets his own personal military service with the Air Force while doing so. So while endorsing as freedom fighters a terrorist group that killed a large contingent of deployed US Air Force personnel, El-Yousseph can always be seen sporting his trademark “US Air Force Retired” baseball cap whenever he and his buddy Ahmad Al-Akhras are chanting “death to Israel” downtown at the federal courthouse. In fact, he is wearing that cap in the video above when he makes his “Hezbollah are freedom fighters” remark.
Tue Oct 17, 2000 9:33 am
Hezuballah freedomm [sic] fighters of south Lebanon shocked the whole world on Oct. 7, when it captured 3 Israeli soliders [sic] in the town of Khiam on the border line to Israel. Khiam is a Lebanese town, it is still occupied by Israel. Israel claimed, the town belong to Syria. Howeveer [sic]; Syria fanatically denied the Israeli claim. Thereby made Hezuballah attack on an Israeli army convoyy [sic] in the town as legitimate act of self defanse [sic], in resisting a foriegn [sic] occupying army. Keep in mind Israel continue to hold 2 of Hezuballah leader in addition to 15 more Lebanese. Many of whome [sic] were kidnapped with in their own country.
International law which Israel claim to adher [sic] to, clearly states: No occupying force is permitted to transfer civilian populations or combatant out of the occupied country. These two reasons set the stage for Hezuballah mid day surprise attack. “Might is right”. This is the only language Israel understand. Oct.12, another shocker by Hezuballah. One Israeli reserve officer captured in Swisserland [sic], and is in the group costudy [sic]. That reminded at first by the Israel kidnapping few years back of one of its own citizen from Italy. The man have [sic] worked at an Israel nucluar [sic] facility in Israel, and has given an interview to a British newspaper aboout [sic] Israell [sic] nucluar [sic] program.
He was smuggled into Israel in a secert [sic] operation, and still serving time in Israeli jail. If Israel can do it and get away with it , why can,t others. After all, All what Hezuballah wants is: 17 Lebanese to be freed, and for Israel to completly [sic] and immediatly [sic] leave the town of Khaim. It,s up to Israel now!.
24 Central Ave.
Westerville, OH. 43081
The fellowing [sic] text was send to the dispatch as letter to the editor.
Additionally, El-Yousseph signs all of his articles and correspondence “US Air Force retired”, and touts his military service online, such as his profile for the Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in the Military (APAAM). [See, for instance, El-Yousseph’s October 26th Marion Star column touting his military service.] He even goes so far as to highlight his training in 1983 for possible service in Lebanon — a peacekeeping mission to protect the Lebanese people where hundreds of US military personnel were murdered by the very Hezbollah terrorist group he openly praises.
He obviously ignores the oath he took before God when he was inducted into the US military:
“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”Hezbollah has long been named a Specially Designated Terrorist Organization by the US government, so why does Mahmoud El-Yousseph violate his induction oath by cheering and applauding America’s enemies who are responsible for the deaths of so many US service men and women? Especially the 19 Air Force personnel (his own branch of service!!!) murdered by Hezbollah in the Khobar Tower attacks?
And what about Hezbollah’s repeated calls for “death to America” by its highest-ranking leaders? For instance, this video of Hezbollah terrorist-in-chief Hassan Nasrallah telling a crowd of the Hezbollah faithful in February 2005 that “death to America” is their constant motto:
We consider it [America] to be an enemy because it wants to humiliate our governments, our regimes, and our peoples. Because it is the greatest plunderer of our treasures, our oil, and our resources, while millions in our nation suffer unemployment, poverty, hunger, unmarriageability, ignorance, darkness, and so on. America… This American administration is an enemy. Our motto, which we are not afraid to repeat year after year, is: “Death to America.”
Crowd: Death to America
Death to America
Death to America
Death to America
Death to America
Death to America
Or similar statement made by their Deputy Secretary-General Naim Qassem, who led a crowd of Hezbollah supporters with that same “death to America” chant less than a year ago:
Since Mahmoud El-Yousseph seems so willing to utilize every opportunity to remind everyone about his military service, perhaps he can answer for us how he is able to justify his support for Hezbollah and terrorism, and still claim to be faithful to his country and his citizenship and military induction oaths to support America against its declared enemies? How can he present himself as a loyal and patriotic American while at the same time praising a group that vows to destroy America?
Here’s a hint, Mahmoud: you can’t claim to be an American patriot and wrap yourself in Old Glory while simultaneously draping yourself in Hezbollah’s flag and applauding their acts of terror, especially when that flag is drenched with the blood of hundreds of American Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen.
You can’t claim to be a patriot while supporting America’s avowed enemies, particularly those that have killed you own fellow servicemen and women — to say that tends to demonstrate severely divided loyalties would be an understatement.