Michel Elbaz, general coordinator of AxisGlobal writes about “the covert ‘love affair’ between Russia and Hezbollah.”
Moscow Base for Recruiting “Shahids`”
With the collapse of Soviet rule, hundreds of Islamic extremists from all over the Muslim world spread across Russia. Emissaries of the different Sunni organizations started to compete for influence among the ex-Soviet Muslims. They also encouraged a religious “renaissance” in the North Caucasus, accompanied by separatist ambitions with an Islamic tint.
Hezbollah`s agents were also among the extremists flooding the country, yet in the beginning the Shia emissaries did not show any special interest in local population. They strived to expand their influence and “guardianship” among thousands of students, immigrants and merchants who came to Russia from the UAE, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestinian authority. Hezbollah`s humanitarian aid and preaching of Islam was meant mostly for Palestinians and Arabs — Shiites that constituted a pool of potential terrorists after their return to the Middle East. Hezbollah`s agents had one more interest. The military plants, which were unable to pay their workers, poverty and corruption at all levels of the local authorities and army, had turned Russia into the source of cheap modern weaponry for the Shia terrorist organization.
The first reports in the Russian media of Hezbollah`s presence in the country started in September, 1993. One of the stories noted that Russia had become a bridgehead for militant Shiite agents’ infiltration into Western and Central Europe. Several years later, Hezbollah`s branches appeared in major cities, such as Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Voronezh. The central branch — in Moscow — controlled the other branches in Russia, additional ex-Soviet states (Kazakhstan, Ukraine Belorussia and Moldova) and in several countries of Eastern Europe. The Russian infrastructure of the Shia organization finally formed in the late nineties and was headed by Dr. Hassan Allek. He resided in Moscow, keeping in constant touch with high-ranking representatives of the Iranian and Lebanese embassies. Hadj Hassan Salame was second in command of the local organization’s hierarchy, as he was a representative of its special operations unit (“Muntamat al-Jihad al-Islami” – MJI or “Islamic Jihad Organization”). His responsibilities were as follows: recruiting of activists to the military wing, purchasing of weaponry and its transfer to Lebanon. Dr. Muhammad Haidar headed the second branch in size in Saint Petersburg.
To cover up the dealings in Russia, the “Ahl al-Beit” (“The Prophet’s Family”) association for open cultural and religious activities was created by Hezbollah`s representatives. Through its first phase, it worked with Lebanese students only. Later it became open to Shiites from Iraq, UAE, Yemen, and African countries (and not just students). Today it unites thousands of the local Muslims, migrants and immigrants from Middle Eastern countries, Azerbaijan and Central Asia. The association also initiated several years ago an intensive campaign of conversion to Islam, directed at the Russian atheist population of Christian-orthodox origin. As a result of this campaign, the number of converts to Islam is rising progressively, and many of the recent converts became prominent activists in Russian Shia community. “The Prophet’s Family” maintain close relations with the Shia leaders of Iran and Lebanon. Delegations on behalf of the association visit Kum and Tehran every year.
The major centers of the association’s activities are Moscow and Saint Petersburg (there are 600 thousand Shiites in this city alone)…
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