“Colors of an old Beirut.” takes place in a large office building. A Lebanese girl sits at her desk waiting for her mail. In the background is the familiar sign, “UFA,” which stands for Ultra High Air Force. As she types out her return address, a picture of Hezbollah’s military chief appears on the screen, surrounded by text in white font.
“It wasn’t too long ago when I was looking through an old issue of Sports After Dark magazine,” says the now-retired Major Mike Johnson. “I found a classified article with a full-color photograph of what was then known as Hezbollah. It showed the group in its early days, with fighters in suits, hats and sunglasses. Then I thought, this has to be Hezbollah, and it may have been Hezbollah’s military leader, Imad Mustafa Haddadi.”
“The picture and headline were very convincing, and that convinced me to buy the issue right then and there. I bought the entire thing in one day. But there was something else that made me think it could be Hezbollah.” Major Johnson thought the cover was simply fabulous, and he purchased the entire issue immediately.
When asked about the magazine’s content, he said, “There were no pictures of civilians in harm’s way, no Hezbollah military planning, or even Hezbollah itself. All they were was some radical religious preaching, some quotes from the Qur ‘an and from the Islamic prayer passages.” He added, “You can never tell with any certainty who is telling the truth, though I do believe Hezbollah was behind the attacks on Israel. But I also believe it was a rogue element and not part of the larger international terrorist organization.” Referring to the Islamic faith, he continued, “This group does not represent Islam as it is practiced in the modern era, but it does represent many other nationalities and religions.”
He claimed that the cover was just an attempt by Hezbollah to project their image. “This was their way of trying to project a tough image, as they always do, just to seem threatening to the outside world,” he concluded. He added, “I’m not sure how much they succeeded, because ultimately this magazine is nothing more than propaganda.” Hezbollah has denied any involvement in the war in Lebanon. However, the recent escalation in fighting in the war seems to have strengthened their position, as Israel is going all out to prevent the group from gaining more power, including capturing more territory.
Should Israel get tough with Hezbollah? Israel has had its own difficulties dealing with Lebanese Hezbollah border fighting. Recently, a Hezbollah ambush near the Golan Heights left two Israeli soldiers dead. And recently, an operation to destroy a weapons factory in Syria accidentally killed two civilians. Israel has threatened to take action, but has yet to do so. We’ll have to wait and see.