Hasan Nasrallah (born 31 August 1960; Arabic: حسن نصرالله) became the third Secretary General of the Lebanese political and paramilitary organization Hezbollah after Israel assassinated the previous leader, Abbas al-Musawi, in 1992He is often referred to as ‘al-Sayyid Hassan’ السيّد حسن, where the honorific title Sayyid denotes his being a descendent of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, through his grandson Husain ibn Ali.
Early life and education
Hasan Nasrallah was born the ninth of ten children into a Shia family in Bourj Hammoud, Matn District (an eastern suburb of Beirut) on 31 August 1960. His father, Abdul Karim, was born in Bazourieh, a village in Jabal Amel (South Republic of Lebanon) located near Tyre. Although his family was not particularly religious, Hassan was interested in theological studies. He attended an-Najah school and later a public school in Sin el Fil (Christian area) Beirut
In 1975, the Lebanese Civil War forced the family to move to their ancestral home in Bazourieh,where Nasrallah completed his secondary education at the public school of Sour (Tyre). Here he joined the Amal Movement, a Lebanese Shi’a political group.
Nasrallah studied at the Shi’a seminary in the Beqaa Valley town of Baalbek. The school followed the teachings of Iraqi-born Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr, who founded the Dawa movement in Najaf, Iraq during the early 1960s.
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had Sadr executed in 1980. After a period of Islamic study in Najaf, Iraq, Nasrallah returned to Republic of Lebanon in 1978 when Iraq expelled hundreds of Lebanese religious pupils. He studied and taught at the school of Amal’s leader Abbas al-Musawi, later being selected as Amal’s political delegate in Beqaa, and making him a member of the central political office.
Nasrallah joined Hezbollah after the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.He became noted for his sharp and fiery sermons. In 1987, Hasan Nasrallah traveled to a seminary in Qom, Iran to further his religious studies. He went back to Lebanon in 1989.
Despite his ongoing commitment to Hezbollah, in 1989 Nasrallah resumed his efforts to become a religious jurist by returning to the Iranian city of Qom to further his studies. Nasrallah believes that Islam holds the solution to the problems of any society, once saying, “With respect to us, briefly, Islam is not a simple religion including only prayers and praises, rather it is a divine message that was designed for humanity, and it can answer any question man might ask concerning his general and personal life. Islam is a religion designed for a society that can revolt and build a community.”
In 1991, Abbas al-Musawi became secretary general of Hezbollah and Nasrallah returned to Lebanon. Nasrallah replaced Musawi as Hezbollah’s leader after the latter was killed by an Israeli airstrike.Nasrallah lived in South Beirut with his wife Fatimah Yasin (who comes from the Lebanese village of Al-Abbasiyah)and five children: Muhammad Hadi (died 1997), Muhammad Javed, Zainab, Muhammad Ali and Muhammad Mahdi. In September 1997, his eldest son Muhammad Hadi, was killed in battle with Israeli soldiers, after a Navy commando unit operation in which 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in Jabal al-Rafei in the South of Lebanon.
Leadership of Hezbollah
Nasrallah became the leader of Hezbollah after the Israelis assassinated the previous leader, Musawi, in 1992.During Nasrallah’s leadership, Hezbollah acquired rockets with a longer range, which allowed them to strike at northern Israel despite the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. In 1993 Israel carried out Operation Accountability. Much Lebanese infrastructure was destroyed during the operation, which Israel claimed was successful. An agreement was eventually reached whereby, Israel ended its attacks in Lebanon and Hezbollah agreed to stop attacks on northern Israel.
However, after a short pause, hostilities resumed. In 1996 Israel launched Operation Grapes of Wrath, blocking important Lebanese harbour cities and bombing a Syrian military base. After 16 days of Israeli attacks in Lebanon, the Israeli–Lebanese Ceasefire Understanding was agreed upon. Again, Hezbollah agreed to stop rocket attacks in exchange for Israel halting its attacks. However, as in 1993, the peace did not last for long.
In Israel, it was increasingly debated whether the presence of Israeli forces in southern Lebanon was working, since it was clear that the ‘security zone’ could not stop Hezbollah rockets reaching into Israel. After heavy Israeli casualties in south lebanon, some Israeli politicians argued that the conflict would only end if Israel withdrew from Lebanon. In 2000 Ehud Barak finally withdrew Israeli forces from Lebanon. Following the Israeli withdrawal, the South Lebanon Army, which was supported by Israel, was quickly overrun by Hezbollah. Some SLA members escaped to Israel, but many were captured by Hezbollah. This success against Israel greatly increased Hezbollah’s popularity within Lebanon and the Islamic world.
Consequently, Nasrallah is widely credited in Lebanon and the Arab world for ending the Israeli occupation of the South of Lebanon, something which has greatly bolstered the party’s political standing within Lebanon.
Nasrallah also played a major role in a complex prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hezbollah in 2004, resulting in hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners being freed and many bodies, including that of his son, being returned to Lebanon. The agreement was described across the Arab world as a magnificent victory for Hezbollah, and Nasrallah was personally praised for achieving these gains.
A December article in the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat stated that command of the organization’s military wing was transferred from Nasrallah to his deputy, Na’im Qasim in August 2007.Hezbollah denied this suggestion, declaring it an attempt to “weaken the popularity” of the movement.
In October 2008, Hashim Safi Al Din, his cousin, was assigned to succeed Nasrallah as secretary general of Hezbollah