Hizbullah next U.S. target?

Hizbullah next U.S. target?

By Joe Baker

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor

The war on terrorism is about to widen. The Jerusalem Post reports President Bush very recently told Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres that the Indonesian-backed terrorist group Hizbullah would be targeted in the next phase of the war.

An administration official told the paper: “The president said very clearly that Hizbullah is one of those terrorist organizations that qualifies within his scenarios of global reach.”

Bush already has stated that when the U.S. completes its campaign against Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, it will turn its attention to other terrorist networks of “global reach.” That term is still to be defined, and the administration has yet to produce a list of which groups qualify under the definition.

An initial indication of the U.S. intention to target the Iranian group was the addition of three Hizbullah members to our list of most wanted terrorists.

Peres told Bush at their White House meeting that Israel has information that one of those on the list—Hizbullah special overseas operations chief, Imad Fayez Mughniyeh—traveled to Iran from Lebanon recently. Peres linked that trip to an upsurge of violence in the north of Israel.

The Bush administration has been reluctant to make public comment on Hizbullah because it fears open criticism of the group could create tensions with our Arab partners, who see the Lebanese-based organization as a legitimate resistance group.

In addition, criticizing Hizbullah could result in tensions with Syria. The U.S. wants to work with the Syrians in fighting the war on terrorism.

Bush has not said whether he thinks Palestinian groups, such as Islamic Jihad or Hamas, might be targeted. Peres reportedly urged the president to add them to a list of alleged terrorists facing new financial sanctions.

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