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Crisis in the Middle East, Day 10

Aired July 21, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Americans leaving Beirut in greater numbers. Secretary Rice says she will come here next week.
And Israeli troops massing on the border. They've called up the reserves. Is a major escalation about to occur? Next on 360.


ANNOUNCER: Israeli troops amass on the border, preparing for what could be a major invasion to Lebanon.

The secretary of state heading to the Mideast.

RICE: We all want a cessation of violence.

ANNOUNCER: Inside Hezbollah. Before it began raining rockets on Israel, Hezbollah carried out an attack that left 241 U.S. servicemen dead. Tonight, the evolution of the terror group.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Terrorist activity, mainly Hezbollah, encouraged by Syria.

ANNOUNCER: The White House says Syria and Iran support Hezbollah, but that the party of God is getting help from across the world, including right here in America.

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360: "Crisis in the Middle East, Day 10". Reporting tonight from Beirut in the Eastern Mediterranean, here is Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And thanks very much for joining us. In a little bit, we're going to take you very deep inside Hezbollah, a very in-depth look at the organization, what is known about it, its ties to terror, its social causes, its military network throughout this region. An in-depth look, tonight on 360.

But first, the latest developments, what is happening now. Beirut, we are coming to you live from Beirut, a city on edge this hour, waiting for the other shoe to fall, watching as thousands of Israeli troops mass along Lebanon's southern border.

And that is where we find CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, all, for the last 24 hours or so, people have been talking about is a potential, big, large scale ground force going into Lebanon. We've seen tanks and troops going towards the border, and we've heard the deputy commander of the war effort up here saying that all reservists, all active duty forces that are necessary are being called up and pointed towards Lebanon. So, there really is a buildup.

In addition, Israeli fighter jets have been dropping leaflets today on southern Lebanon, telling the people there to move back. But when you ask the generals and when you try to pin them down, they won't use the world invasion, and they certainly won't say when it's going to happen, if it's going to happen soon.

In addition, we know that it's already happening in that a ground force is already inside Lebanon and has been for the last couple of days. It amounts to a few battalions or a thousand or more troops and they're doing various in and out operations. Some are staying longer, some are just a few miles in, some are deeper. But no big ground force yet, and the chief of staff said that any ground force would have limited incursions -- Anderson.

COOPER: And I guess that, of course, is a big question, Christiane. What happens -- they seize territory, they take territory, but then do they hold it? And when does holding it -- when do they become an occupying force and engender even more resistance?

AMANPOUR: Well they're mindful of that because of such a painful occupation they had that lasted about 18 years and ended only six years ago. But what they want to do if they go in is not to occupy, but they want to take out what they say are positions, bunkers, missile and rocket cells that they can't get from the air and that they can only go and find from the ground. So that appears to be the aim as well as pushing Hezbollah back and creating some kind of buffer in advance of potentially an international force being deployed to come here. Although that appears to be a ways off.

COOPER: Christiane, I appreciate that report. We'll continue to check in with you live right at the border monitoring developments there.

CNN's Nic Robertson today was in Beirut talking to Lebanon's president about what would happen if Israel did, in fact, launch a larger ground invasion, what would Lebanese troops do? Would they stand on the sidelines or would they join up and fight with Hezbollah against Israeli forces?

Here's Nic's conversation with the president.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: From the gardens of his palace, Lebanon's president is watching Beirut burn.

PRESIDENT EMILE LAHOUD, LEBANON: This is the area there they have been shelling all the time.

ROBERTSON: And the planes are still flying. I can hear them.

LAHOUD: Yes, they are here. You can hear them. They're all the time. ROBERTSON: Even as Israeli jets fly overhead, he insists that his country, which, barely a decade ago, ended a brutal civil war, is now united, in the face of an Israeli attack.

LAHOUD: The Lebanese will stay united, all together. And all this will not affect them. Of course, we are being hurt a -- a lot, but, at the end, I am sure that right will prevail.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): In an exclusive interview with CNN, President Lahoud, a close ally of Syria, repeated Lebanon's unity many times, and went further.

As commander in chief of Lebanon's armed forces, he says he wants the country's army to back up Hezbollah if Israel invades.

LAHOUD: Of course they will fight the invading force of Israel if it tries to come inside.

ROBERTSON: Lebanese troops are not now part of the fighting with Israel, and Lebanon's tiny 60,000 under-equipped force would be no match for Israel's on an open battlefield. But, Lahoud says, the Lebanese army knows the land, implying it can fight a guerrilla war, Hezbollah style.

Whether Lahoud is posturing to keep an Israeli invasion at bay is impossible to say. But, as of today, he sees no diplomacy that would stop an escalation.

LAHOUD: We have had a lot of visitors coming from abroad. But, unfortunately, they are talking, going and coming and talking all the time, but with no result.

ROBERTSON: Across town, Hezbollah's parliamentary ally, head of the Amal Party and Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri believes Israel rejected peace initiatives that Lebanon offered to U.N. mediators.

NABIH BERRI, LEBANESE PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER (through translator): I later heard a confirmed report that the negotiations with the Israelis were nonexistent and hopeless.

ROBERTSON: His interpretation may not be the whole picture. But it is shaping thinking here. Berri, too, says his old civil war militia, the Amal, will join Hezbollah if Israel invades.

BERRI (through translator): It would not be just the Lebanese army, but all the Lebanese people, not Hezbollah alone, nor the Amal movement alone, not the army. Any attempt at a ground invasion, all of Lebanon will stand together as one front.

ROBERTSON: Again, posturing or promise? Impossible to say, as Israel builds forces on the border.


COOPER: Nic, what do you make of it? You say it's impossible to say. Do you think they're really serious about saying that Lebanese troops would actually side with Hezbollah against Israeli forces if they launched a ground invasion?

ROBERTSON: You know, Anderson, I think they'd have a real problem if they try to just drive the army in numbers down to the border area, because they would seen driving down the roads, they'd be picked off by Israeli aircraft.

So, how are they going to lend their support? They're going to have to drive down in civilian vehicles in ones, twos and threes and sort of try and sneak down and supplement and backfill the Hezbollah positions. The Hezbollah have very likely put in a lot of effort, a lot of preplanning. They've got their bunkers. They know where they run from those bunkers to other bunkers. They know how to defend them. The Lebanese army has not been part of that. It's difficult to know how they'd integrate.

But, when it comes to numbers, when a war comes to face-to-face fighting and it's all about attrition, having numbers to backfill no doubt would help, and perhaps that's how they envision the army being used. But it could very well be a very brutal and very ugly campaign if it gets to that -- Anderson.

COOPER: Let's say they're not serious about it. Let's say it is just talk, it is just posturing. Why would they be saying that? What is the benefit to the Lebanese government to make that posture?

ROBERTSON: You know that perhaps they believe that the Israelis are just posturing on the border at the moment, building up troops to make it look as they're going to come in and perhaps they're calculating if try and call their bluff.

But the government here has a lot to lose in this if Hezbollah is able to withstand this fight and come out holding its head up and not too bloodied. It is going to make the government here look pretty weak and the Hezbollah will come out looking very good inside this country if they can manage to repel an Israeli invasion of any kind -- Anderson.

COOPER: A lot to consider. Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson. Thanks very much, Nic.

What exactly would an invasion look like? One of the things that some actors in this region have been calling for is an international peacekeeping force for the U.N.

You may not know this, but there is already an international peacekeeping force. Here's the raw data.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, that's what it's called, they were established in '78 during another conflict at the border with Israel. One of the missions was to help the Lebanese government restore its authority in the region.

Right now it has nearly 2,000 troops in Lebanon supported by international and local civilian staff. They come from eight countries -- China, India, France, Italy, Poland, Ireland, Ghana and Ukraine. And not only are they having trouble restoring the peace, their only supplies like fuel and drinking water, believe it or not, are now running short.

We are seeing, of course, civilian casualties on both sides of this border. Right now heavy rocket attacks in Haifa today wounding several dozen people. Others were injured.

Of course, here today in Lebanon, 360 M.D., Dr. Sanjay Gupta has come now to Beirut to look at civilian casualties and what doctors are going to be doing about it.

How are the hospitals coping here?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the most striking thing to me is that, you know, you have sort of a double whammy here. You have all the casualties that are coming in, and you can actually trace these from the south, and they're starting to move further and further north. So you're seeing a change in demographic even here in Beirut.

But also you have people who were just sick before this ever started, and they're having a harder time actually getting into the hospital. So people with very preventable diseases, very preventable medical problems, such as heart disease, they're suffering. Some of them could die, again, from very preventable problems. So that's the beginning, the genesis of a humanitarian crisis.

COOPER: There's also concern, just long term of doctors leaving, of medical supplies running out. Is there any sense right now of getting more medical supplies in here? I know the Red Cross has sent one mission to southern Lebanon.

GUPTA: Yes, there is. And that's some of the good news here. In fact, they've talked about some blood components actually coming in from Syria as well. That's obviously in high demand. Any time you have mass trauma, getting blood components in.

And remember as well, I mean, there are some very good hospitals here, Anderson. I mean, you know, American university, for example, has a tertiary care center. They do transplants, they do heart surgery, all sorts of stuff. So that the resources are here as long as they can get those supplies in.

COOPER: All right. Sanjay Gupta, thanks. We'll be checking with you a lot of the coming days and weeks.

One of the things when you come to Beirut that it's sort of hard to figure out is the lay of land. Much of the bombing in Beirut has not been in this part of the area, which is sort of in the downtown part of Beirut. It's been focused on the southern suburbs of Beirut, Hezbollah territory, literally a part of city controlled by Hezbollah.

Even traditionally before this conflict began, the Lebanese military would not go into that region on patrols. Hezbollah controlled that territory.

We took a tour -- a brief tour by car today inside the heavily damaged parts of south Beirut. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It's not a good idea to venture into the southern suburbs of Beirut, the area known as Dahiya, without an escort. Hezbollah controls this territory.

And that's why Israel has been focusing their -- their attacks on this -- on this neighborhood. So, we now pulled over to the side of the road, and we're waiting for someone to come pick us up.

The Hezbollah representative is now here. We have been told to just follow whatever orders they ask us to do. They'll probably search us, perhaps even take a photograph. It's said that they are building a database of all the reporters who are here. So, we're just going to have to kind of play it by ear.

It's so strange being in this Hezbollah neighborhood because you can drive around. It doesn't seem like there's anyone around. And, all of a sudden, your eyes -- it's almost like adjusting to -- to the darkness. Suddenly, you realize there are people who are watching you, and guys on motorcycles talking on cell phones who pass you by, watching very closely what you're doing.

Then, when we pulled over, two guys from Hezbollah came over, told us it was too dangerous for us -- for them to take us around right now. They said there's an Israeli drone circling around. So they told us to get out and maybe come back another time.


COOPER: Those drones, of course, the Israeli drones, you can hear them throughout the day and throughout the night circling overhead, watching all that's happening.

When we come back for the rest of this hour on 360, we're going to take you deep inside Hezbollah, a look at the organization, what they want, who their leaders are, and how Israel is trying to destroy them militarily. A special edition of 360, "Inside Hezbollah," next.


COOPER: And welcome back. We are live in Beirut. For the next 45 minutes we take you inside Hezbollah, the party of God. Freedom fighters to some in the Muslim world; Terrorists, to the U.S and Israel.

Twenty-five years ago few had ever heard of Hezbollah. Now they're one of the most powerful groups in the region. Their war against Israel has claimed hundreds of lives, and tonight we'll take you inside, a revealing look at the people, their tactics and what they want and how Hezbollah -- what sort of an impact it's had on the U.S., on Israel, and on the entire Middle East.


COOPER (voice-over): A relentless barrage of missiles. Casualties on both sides. The escalating battle between Israel and Hezbollah is decades old.

Hezbollah was founded in 1982 in response the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. It seeks the destruction of Israel, and with an AK-47 emblazoned on its trademark yellow flag, attacks in the name of Islam.

The word Hezbollah means Party of God.

Most Americans first became aware of Hezbollah on October 23, 1983. A truck packed with explosives detonated outside the Marine barracks in Beirut.

ROBIN WRIGHT, WASHINGTON POST: It was the largest non-nuclear explosion anywhere on earth since World War II. It was the largest loss of American military live in a single incident since Iwo Jima.

COOPER: 241 American servicemen were killed. The force of the explosion reduced the building to rubble. Many of the victims, Marines sent to Beirut to keep peace between Israel and various factions in Lebanon.

The attack was Hezbollah's calling card of terror, delivered to America by a suicide bomber. Over the years, there would be many more.

Kidnappings. In 1985 Journalist Terry Anderson was seized. In 1987 they took Church Envoy Terry Waite.

TERRY WAITE, FORMER HEZBOLLAH HOSTAGE: They suspected wrongly that I was involved in what became known as the Iran Contra Affair, and I was able to convince them that I was a humanitarian negotiator and I came out with my life.

COOPER: Both men were eventually released. Others, however, never were.

Hezbollah is a suspect in the torture and murder of U.S. Colonel William Higgins. Higgins disappeared in 1988 while leading a U.N. observer group in south Lebanon. A year and a half later this video appeared on television screens around the world. Higgins' badly beaten body, hanging from a rope.

There have been other suicide attacks, most notably in June of 1996 when 19 U.S. airmen were killed in an explosion that ripped through the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.

By U.S. and Israeli estimates, Hezbollah is responsible for more than 200 terror attacks, attacks that have killed more than 800 people since 1980.

That's why the U.S. calls Hezbollah a terror group, but in Lebanon to many it is much more than just that.

MARK PERRY, CONFLICT FORUM: They're quite a deeply community- oriented organization that is primarily a social organization first, a militant organization second. COOPER: Inside Lebanon, Hezbollah has a television network with millions of viewers. It's also a political party that's gaining strength in Lebanon's parliament. Hezbollah has its own hospitals, its own schools and charities. It's a lifeline for Shias living in Beirut's impoverished suburbs and throughout southern Lebanon.

PERRY: They provide birth to death insurance for their members and for their community. They remind me of kind of a ward organization, a precinct organization in Chicago. They know where everyone lives. They know what the problems are. They have social service workers. And they know their people very well.

COOPER: Maybe true, but to Israel and America, Hezbollah is first and foremost a threat.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's just provocation of Hezbollah that has created this crisis and that's the root cause of the problem.

COOPER: Israelis, like Ron Kierman (ph), live on the northern border in constant fear.

RON KIERMAN, ISRAELI: Yes, definitely people are afraid, and I think that fear is one of the -- the thing that keeps us alive.

COOPER: Kierman has experienced terror firsthand. His daughter, the victim of a suicide bomber. He believes Israel's military might is more than justified against Hezbollah.

KIERMAN: I have to emphasize that Hezbollah is an extension of the Iranians. And the Iranian president said not once and not twice that he does not want us here, period. He wants to eliminate me.

COOPER: Experts say Hezbollah now has cells around the world, including inside the United States. But most of its support -- cash, rockets, training -- comes from its neighbors to the east, Syria and Iran.

WRIGHT: Iran remains the kind of sponsor of Hezbollah. It is the primary source of arms. It is reported to provide about $100 million a year in arms, goods, and cash.

Syria's role is one of facilitator. It is the logistical link between Tehran and Beirut.

COOPER: That financial backing has helped Hezbollah evolve into a formidable force in the region, one capable of waging war.

So, what does Hezbollah want now?

HISHAM MELNEM, AN-NAHAR NEWSPAPER: They want to play an important role. They want the state to invest in the infrastructure in the Shia areas, and they want their place under the sun in Lebanon, but definitely they don't want to disarm.

COOPER: Destroying Hezbollah is Israel's top priority. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We shall hunt down every single terrorist who is threatening Israel.

COOPER: CNN's military Analyst General David Grange was involved in counter-terrorism activities in the region in the early 1980s.

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think if there's going to be a global war on terrorism, it has to be disarmed. My question is, who's going to do it? Who's going to have the guts to do it? I think we should be thankful, whether you like Israel or not, that Israel is taking them on.

COOPER: And taking them on with a vengeance.

BRIG. GEN. GAL HIRSCH, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: We cannot live under this umbrella of terror missiles, and we will attack and attack and fight for our lives.

COOPER: Born of war, Hezbollah now is once again at war with Israel. Innocent victims suffering on both sides of the conflict.

Next, Hezbollah, the tactics of terror.



COOPER (voice-over): No place is safe in Haifa these days. A northern city well within reach of Hezbollah's rockets, Haifa is the newest target of terror. And no one is more familiar with the reality of that terror than Ishad Gall (ph).

ISHAD GALL, BOMB EXPERT, HAIFA POLICE: It's very hard, very hard, very difficult to see a direct hit on a house, somebody's life.

COOPER: A bomb expert with the Haifa police, Gall looks for clues in the rocket remnants in order to better understand what Hezbollah has in its arsenal.

Coincidentally the first rocket to hit Haifa landed in Gall's neighborhood.

GALL: It was surprising and shocking. And nobody expected it.

COOPER: Though Gall considers these to be crude weapons, he admits that Hezbollah rockets can now reach further than ever before.

GALL: What you see is only the remains of the rocket engine because the rest exploded. This is 122 millimeter rocket. This was the first one that was falling in Stella Maris, near my house. Nobody injured in that incident.

This one, we knew that they had, but we didn't believe that they would send them so soon.

COOPER: Israeli experts fear that Hezbollah has even longer range rockets that can strike deeper into Israel's heartland, even Tel Aviv.

GALL: This is the first one that hit.

COOPER: Haifa's train depot was the scene of the city's deadliest rocket attack.

GALL: The rocket hit the roof and exploded there. And then it spreads. And then the rocket engine hits the floor here. It was in the morning, and it caught them by surprise. People were working here to fix the train.

COOPER: Two days later the depot was hit again.

GALL: It's surprising, because it's very rare. Because you can't control the rocket, and they hit in the same places.

COOPER: Hezbollah has long relied on short-range Katyusha rockets to strike at the cities and towns along Israel's northern border, but Israel was caught off guard when Hezbollah aimed a guided missile and hit an Israeli warship on July 14th.

Daniel Benjamin was the national security council's counterterrorism director in the Clinton administration.

DANIEL BENJAMIN, SENIOR FELLOW, CSIS: Certainly, Hezbollah has never severely damaged an Israeli warship at sea, so they're using much more sophisticated armaments than they were before.

COOPER: Hezbollah's missile capability is an indication of how advanced it's become and how much support it's getting from Syria and Iran.

PERRY: They're about the fourth or fifth strongest military in the Middle East.

COOPER: Mark Perry is director of an organization that encourages dialogue with Hezbollah.

PERRY: They have evolved from a very small, guerrilla organization to a very professional army that has brigades in the field with officers, know what they're doing. They're in constant training. This is a highly professional army.

COOPER: Retired General David Grange is a special forces veteran who operated in Lebanon.

GRANGE: They've taken on some conventional warfare strength. I mean, the ability to have a rocketry force to fire missiles with better precision than they used to with the Katyusha rockets, which they just point south and fire. Now they're a little more accurate. And I think they have some more conventional capability than they used to have than just terrorist attacks, suicide bombers.

COOPER: Since its early days, Hezbollah's greatest weapon has been terror. Though Hezbollah no longer uses suicide bombings, the group that pioneered the tactic has inspired Islamic jihadists throughout the world to strap on bombs and kill.

Abdullah Tif Abdullah (ph) is one of many in South Lebanon who support Hezbollah.

ABDULLAH TIF ABDULLAH, SUPPORTS HEZBOLLAH: There is nothing more human than a human who will wrap himself with bombs, because this is the only way. There is no plane, there is no tank. There's nothing. You have nothing. You have bare hands.

COOPER: Kidnapping is another tactic Hezbollah has used effectively against Israel.

Gary Berntsen is a former CIA field commander in Afghanistan.

GARY BERNTSEN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: You may recall the airman, Lt. Col. Ron Arad. He was captured by the Lebanese and he was turned over to Hezbollah and the Iranians. They tortured Ron Arad to death. The Israelis never recovered him.

COOPER: Kidnapping Israeli forces has proven valuable, often resulting in prisoner swaps. In 1985 Israel released more than 1,000 Arab prisoners in exchange for three Israeli soldiers who had been captured in Lebanon.

The abduction of two Israeli soldiers near the Lebanese border on July 12th set off the current conflict.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. OK. We have a siren now.

COOPER: But as always Hezbollah's most effective weapon is fear. In Haifa the constant sirens signal a new and even more unsettling threat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's different. It's not the suicide bomber on the bus. It's something that's going to fall from the sky and it's very fatal. People are afraid.


COOPER: Up next, the face of Hezbollah. The charismatic cleric who leads the organization, Hassan Nasrallah, in his own words.



COOPER (voice-over): May of 2000. The Shias of south Lebanon erupt in joy after Israel pulls out, ending an occupation that lasted more than 20 years.

Hezbollah and its supporters proclaim victory.

Look closely at the celebratory poster on this car. You'll see the man behind Hezbollah's armed campaign. Their leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, who just this week reminded the world of how determined they are. SHEIKH HASSAN NASRALLAH, HEZBOLLAH LEADER (through translator): In 2000 we in Lebanon, we with modest capabilities and efforts and with a small number of mujahadin, with few supplies and little equipment, presented a model of how resistance can overcome an occupation army.

COOPER: What Hezbollah terms its armed resistance, guerilla and terror tactics, eventually wore the Israelis down.

WRIGHT: Hezbollah is the first army in the Arab world ever to force the Israelis to retreat. It managed to do what hundreds of thousands of conventional military troops in Egypt, in Jordan, in Syria were unable to do for more than half a century.

COOPER: And that gave Hezbollah an almost mythical status in Lebanon, elevating its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, into one of the most revered leaders in many parts of Muslim world.

Now has Israeli air strikes bombard Hezbollah strongholds, Nasrallah renown is once again celebrated on the Arab street, like here in this Syrian market where a shopkeeper gives away pictures of his hero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Nasrallah's popularity is bigger than a mountain and higher than the sky. He is now getting support from God and from the people.

COOPER: But whether Nasrallah's support has staying power in a religiously divided Lebanon is questionable.

WRIGHT: There will be many in Lebanon who will be very upset about the fact that Hezbollah's cross-border raid brought about this extraordinary military response from Israel and will hold Hezbollah accountable as well as Israel.

COOPER: The Hezbollah leader may well be relishing this moment, one he's long prepared for. At the age of 10, as the story goes, Nasrallah played cleric wrapping his head in his grandmother's black scarf, telling others to pray behind him. By the age of 15 he entered a Shia seminary in Iraq. Now 46 the black head scarf is his signature, and he's much more than just a cleric.

WRIGHT: He's both the charismatic Islamic populist and the wily guerrilla tactician. The kind of cross between Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran's revolutionary leader, and Che Guevara, the Latin-American revolutionary.

COOPER: Though he's considered a formidable player in Lebanon, Nasrallah claims he does not aspire to be another Osama, condemning the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

WRIGHT: One of the ironies about Hezbollah is that many in the West just lump him in the same basket as Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, but actually there's an enormous amount of tension between two very different movements.

Nasrallah leads a Shiite movement. Osama bin Laden leads a predominantly Sunni movement. They hate each other.

COOPER: Though Hezbollah has killed many Americans over the years, in a July 2001 interview with CNN, Nasrallah insisted then that America was not the enemy.

NASRALLAH (through translator): America's policies are biased and unjust. We oppose them, but we don't fight the Americans and we do not launch military operations against Americans or target Americans.

COOPER: Still, Hezbollah remains on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.

NASRALLAH (through translator): We are not a terrorist movement. We refuse to be described as such, and he who accuses us of terrorism must present proof of our involvement in terrorist actions.

COOPER: Even so, Nasrallah is committed to the fight against Israel, calling on the Arab world to join the Hezbollah cause.

NASRALLAH (through translator): Today the peoples of the Arab and Islamic nation are facing a historic opportunity to accomplish a great historic victory over the Zionist enemy.



ROBERTSON: You're really worried about another strike here right now, yes?


COOPER: When we come back...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are now the most dangerous place at the most dangerous moment.


COOPER: CNN's Nic Robertson takes us inside a Hezbollah stronghold.


COOPER: Hezbollah has grown into a major military, political, and social force here in Lebanon. To truly understand their power, however, you have to venture into the war-torn Shia neighborhoods of southern Beirut, where Hezbollah's leaders are considered heroes.

CNN's Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson takes us inside.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ROBERTSON: Where are we going now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we are moving to where Israeli jet fighters bombed what it called Hezbollah headquarters.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): These are Beirut's southern suburbs, predominantly Shiite and a Hezbollah stronghold. These days, it's a dangerous place. And this Hezbollah spokesman is clearly rattled by the prospect of more Israeli bombs.

(on camera): How dangerous is it in this area at the moment?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is very, very dangerous. It's -- we are now the most dangerous place in the most dangerous moment.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Israeli war planes have hit this area hard because it's the political capital of Hezbollah, a state within a state. Its influence is everywhere.

Before the bombing began, you could find Hezbollah hospitals, schools, and charities supporting Lebanon's traditionally poor and dispossessed Shiite community.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said to Hezbollah, God bless you.

ROBERTSON: For Malica Suor (ph) and her family, Hezbollah provides water when no one else can or will, even now when so many are displaced.

MALICA SUOR: My sister went to go bring water from there. There is cans -- very big cans. They put water in it in all of Lebanon.

ROBERTSON: In her old neighborhood near Beirut's airport, the one she fled after Israel began bombing and the one she hopes to return to, Hezbollah picked up the garbage, paid for medical care and helped run the schools, stepping in and overshadowing the Lebanese government.

SUOR: Hezbollah is doing all the things for the people.

ROBERTSON: On a practical level, Hezbollah paid half the cost for her daughter Zanab's (ph) school. And Zanab says that was just the beginning of the help.

ZANAB, STUDENT: If something is broken in my school, Hezbollah helps them to make it and to correct it again.

ROBERTSON: Now Zanab is on her way of becoming the next generation of Hezbollah.

ZANAB: I hope that -- to -- when I be big and adult, I want to be elected for Hezbollah. If someone has a hurt and (INAUDIBLE), I will help him.

ROBERTSON: Both mother and daughter say they appreciate all that Hezbollah does for them, but the most important thing to them is still the resistance.

ZANAB: I like them more when they kill the Israel from our land, because this land is us only.

SUOR: They've been all my life. All my life to family -- to my family and to my husband, to my sisters, to all the world.

ROBERTSON: And in return for all that it's given her, Hezbollah has won Malica's unconditional support. When the family is finally able to return to their home, they believe that Hezbollah will help them rebuild.

SUOR: They promised that they will help the people to -- to continue with the life again.

ROBERTSON: Hezbollah has a track record of doing just that. In 1996, after an Israeli military assault destroyed numerous buildings in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah was quick to help its supporters rebuild.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hezbollah has a very interesting outfit called the Jihad Construction Company. They load their trucks with windows and all kinds of construction equipment and all these young guys with their T-shirts saying "Jihad Albina'a" here. They will go house to house and offer the people, do you want us to fix your windows? Do you want us to fix your doors?

ROBERTSON: Even now as its buildings are being destroyed, Hezbollah is organizing refugees and relief services, proof its ability to provide social service has survived.

(on camera): Wow, there's a lot of damage here.

(voice-over): The rebuilding of south Beirut won't come until the bombs stop falling, but when it does, Hezbollah will be there for its followers as it has so many times before. For now it's more about surviving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our action is always reaction. It's never an action.

ROBERTSON (on camera): But they saying you're killing civilians?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now there is jet fighters. We have to move.

ROBERTSON: You're really worried about another strike here right now, yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, of course.


COOPER: Just ahead, tracking terror. How Israel hunts down its enemies.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Randi Kaye, more of "Inside Hezbollah" in a moment.

But first some of the business and other stories we're following tonight.

We begin in Iraq where in the last few days more than 250 people have reportedly been killed across the country. Today at least 27 Iraqis were killed in bombings and firefights, plus four bodies were found in various areas of Baghdad. They were all shot in the head, and their bodies showed signs of torture. Also killed today a U.S. Marine in Anbar Province. The number of U.S. military deaths now stands at 2,558.

Remnants of Tropical Storm Beryl are moving across the province of Nova Scotia, Canada, tonight. That's after the storm swept through New England this morning. The center of the storm hit Nantucket, delivering heavy rains and high winds to the island. One resident said it was like a big old nor'easter.

St. Louis, Missouri, has been declared a disaster area after a storm knocked out power to half a million customers in the middle of a triple digit heat wave. The National Guard went house to house, looking for those overcome by the heat.

And in New York a five-day-old power outage continues to leave as many as 100,000 residents in the dark. At least 22 people have died in 10 states because of the weather. Forecasters are expecting milder temperatures next week.

On Wall Street a fall in technology stocks led the broader stock market to close lower today. The NASDAQ was down 19 points to 2020, a 14-month low. The Dow Jones Industrial finished down nearly 60 points. The S&P was down just under nine points.

And Firestone has made a renewed effort to recall radial tires of Ford Explorers and other SUVs from the '90s. It follows complaints about recent accidents involving SUVs that had older spare tires. The company said it already replaced 6 million tires in the original recall, but many customers did not think to return the spares.

Those are the headlines. "Inside Hezbollah," a special edition of 360, continues in less than one minute.



COOPER (voice-over): This is how Israel is fighting Hezbollah. With air strikes and cannon fire and small numbers of ground troops.

PERRY: What are their tactics now? 15,000 feet. We're going to bomb them, and we're going to degrade the infrastructure.

COOPER: But Israel also hunts its enemies like this. Under cover of darkness, up close and personal. The targets -- terrorist cells, its leaders and suicide bombers.

GRANGE: Suicide bombing is en vogue now. It's cheap propaganda has tremendous impact, and even if the person that's the suicide bomber gets killed before they get to the target, just letting them blow up themselves, they're successful.

COOPER: Carnage wrought by suicide bombers has forced Israel to take extreme steps to protect itself, steps long endorsed by Israel's prime minister.

EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Is there any question about the legitimacy of killing someone who is described as a rolling bomb, that is someone that is on his way to commit a terrorist action? Go out. Reach out for him and kill him.

COOPER: And that's what Israel does. The tactic is known as targeted assassination. When an arrest is deemed too dangerous, terrorists are hunted down and killed without a trial. Hamas' chief bomb maker Yahya Ayyash, alias, the engineer, was targeted for assassination.

YOSSI MELMAN, TERRORISM EXPERT: They found someone who was close to him who provided Yahya Ayyash with a cellular phone, but the battery inside the cellular phone was replaced and the battery had some explosives. And when Yahya Ayyash, the engineer, received a telephone call, the battery exploded and he was killed.

COOPER: While the policy of targeted assassination has long focused primarily on Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists, Hezbollah's rocket attacks and kidnappings have almost certainly put its leaders in the cross hairs now as well, including Hezbollah's top man Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After the plan to attack on the Israeli patrol, Nasrallah crossed all the redlines, and we decided not to allow him any immunity anymore.

COOPER: But what if Israel does kill Nasrallah? Targeted assassinations are controversial even at home. In the West it's shunned publicly, and in the Arab world condemned.

PERRY: If Hassan Nasrallah were to be killed by a hunter killer team in the Arab world, in the Muslim world, it would be called terrorists.

COOPER: Of course, targeted assassinations and military force aren't the only tactics in Israel's arsenal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first capabilities that you should enjoy is what they call intelligence dominance. You should be able to find out, to identify the terrorists in the corner, in the cafe, in the car.

COOPER: Human intelligence is perhaps Israel's key weapon against the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah and developing such assets, recruiting operatives and collaborators can be an art form. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You try to recruit them. It's not easy because for you it means recruitment. For them it means betrayal.

COOPER: For all its human intelligence, communications, and military might, Israel, like America, has been at times frustrated in its fight against terror. Frustrated by the likes of this man, Imad Mugniyah, a suspected Hezbollah mastermind and one of the most wanted terrorists in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's primarily responsible for killing the Marines in 1983, 241 Marines died. He's conducted many attacks on the United States and on foreign governments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think that he's the one that was responsible for the blow up of our embassy in Buenos Aires and it looks as if he is the one that is responsible also for the last terrorist attack that killed eight Israeli troops.

COOPER: But the United States and Israel have hunted Mugniyah for decades. Israel has come close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They shuttled the brother and they planted a bomb in the garage, but he was late and the bomb exploded and the brother was killed.

COOPER: And so it goes. For all of Israel's human intelligence and military might, there is one undeniable reality when it comes to fighting terror.

GRANGE: Any kind of guerrilla organization, of course, uses people to their advantage. Their tactic is to blend in with the population and strike with they can.


COOPER: Thanks for watching this special edition of 360, "Inside Hezbollah." I'm Anderson Cooper in Beirut.


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