— -- Hezbollah has launched more than 200 attacks, killing over 800 people. Founded in 1982 in response to Israel and America's presence in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah's first attacks were all within Lebanese borders. But as Hezbollah's capabilities have expanded over time, so has its violent reach. Although its primary focus remains on Israel, Hezbollah has also struck Jewish and American communities in the Middle East, Europe, and South America:
The success of Hezbollah's terrorist efforts is due, in part, to continued financial support from its most powerful patron, Iran.
Ray Takeyh, author of the forthcoming "The Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World," estimates that Iran provides roughly $100 million dollars in aid to Hezbollah each year, although precise figures are unavailable.
Takeyh explains that Hezbollah uses Iranian aid in two ways. First, Iran's support "pays for social services," like schools and clinics, "that make Hezbollah popular in Lebanon."
Second, Iranian largesse permits Hezbollah to further develop its military capacity. Since Hezbollah's war with Israel in 2006, Iran has increased its aid in order to help Hezbollah rebuild its infrastructure.
In addition to its military activities, Hezbollah participates actively in Lebanese politics. When its political legitimacy is challenged by international observers, Hezbollah's political actors emphasize the distinction between the group's political and terrorist wings.
However, according to Steven Cook, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, "there is nothing to the idea that there are separate military and political identities of Hezbollah. The political and military wings are not discrete entities."
Buttressed by a great deal of popular support in Lebanon, it is likely that Hezbollah's influence and capabilities as a terrorist organization will continue to grow.