From Daniel Pipes:

Almost without public notice, the two sides have declared war on each other. President George W. Bush stated in June 2003 that “the free world, those who love freedom and peace, must deal harshly with Hamas” and that “Hamas must be dismantled.” Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage announced in September 2002 that “Hezbollah may be the A-team of terrorists and maybe Al-Qaeda is actually the B-team. … They have a blood debt to us, which you spoke to; and we’re not going to forget it and it’s all in good time. … We’re going to take them down one at a time.”

These ambitious sentiments have been accompanied by a shift in resources. The Washington Post reported in May that the FBI, “Confident that its efforts to track the Al-Qaeda terrorist network in this country are beginning to pay off, … is devoting more resources to the two Middle Eastern groups, which command more widespread support in Arab and Muslim communities” in the United States. The Post article tells about a November 2002 ruling from a secretive three-judge appeals panel that authorized federal agents pursuing criminal prosecutions of terrorist suspects to exploit the previously inaccessible vast backlog of classified wiretaps and intelligence reports from foreign security agencies. This has led to “stepped-up investigations in at least two dozen U.S. cities.” The first public result came in February 2003 with the indictment of Sami Al-Arian and seven others. Current investigations are focused on the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and several individuals, including Abdelhaleem Ashqar, Mohamad Hammoud, and Ali Nasrallah.

Today, Hezbollah gave its fullest retort to date, in an interview by its leader Hassan Nasrallah to the Times of London. Nasrallah overtly threatened American interests around the world if the U.S. government does attempt to eradicate Hezbollah. “In such a case Hezbollah has a right to defend its existence, its people and its country through any means and at any time and in any place.” To back this up, he noted that “There are many people throughout the world who love Hezbollah, who like Hezbollah and who support Hezbollah,” he said. “Some may not sit idly by when seeing a brutal aggression against Lebanon.”

Comment: It appears that Hamas and Hezbollah are no longer just Israel’s problem but increasingly America’s as well.

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