The Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah announced it would invest in doctors, medical equipment, and clinics to treat Chinese coronavirus patients in Lebanon, joining a growing list of terrorist organizations waging what Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dubbed a “jihad” against the pandemic.
Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that disguises itself as a political party in Lebanon. It has deep ties to the Iranian regime and is active in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in the region in addition to Iran and Lebanon.
Iran’s Tasnim News Agency claimed that Hezbollah “is deploying 1,500 doctors, 3,000 nurses and paramedics and 20,000 more activists” to help contain the coronavirus outbreak in Lebanon, where government officials have documented 368 cases of coronavirus and six deaths as of Thursday. It is not clear where Hezbollah, an organization that specializes in acts of violence to promote radical Islam, is finding doctors, nurses, and paramedics to hire for the fight against the Chinese virus. The 20,000 “activists” are presumably jihadists who participate in promoting the terrorist organization elsewhere.
“It is a real war that we must confront with the mindset of a warrior,” Tasnim quoted Sayyed Hashem Safieddine, head of Hezbollah’s executive council, as saying on television. “Our role is to complement the government apparatus and not to stand in its place.”
Safieddine repeatedly compared Hezbollah’s efforts to wartime actions and described the terrorist organization as “fighting coronavirus with capabilities initially put to confront war and aggression.”
Safieddine notably made the announcement rather than the head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, who has mostly kept a low profile since the outbreak reached the Middle East. Rumors abounded this month that, in light of dozens of senior members of the Iranian Islamic regime testing positive for the virus, senior Hezbollah members who often meet with them have self-quarantined to prevent from contaminating more people. Some reports speculated that Nasrallah himself had either self-quarantined or become sick after being exposed to the coronavirus.
Hezbollah has been using the coronavirus outbreak for propaganda purposes all week, publishing videos showing alleged “Hezbollah health units” helping disinfect parts of Lebanon and Iran with water hoses, a method the Middle East Monitor noted that scientists have dismissed as “ineffective.”
The mobilization of terrorist groups to confront the Chinese virus follows a dismissive statement at the beginning of the month from Ayatollah Khamenei, who himself at age 80 is in the high-risk group for life-threatening complications as a result of a Chinese coronavirus infection.
“The Coronavirus is not such a big tragedy and this country has surmounted graver ones,” Khamenei claimed in a televised speech. “I don’t want to say it’s unimportant, but let’s not exaggerate it either. The Coronavirus will affect the country briefly & leave.”
Khamenei referred to the response to the outbreak in the country as “doing Jihad for the sake of God.”
The supreme leader tasked the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization with close ties to Hezbollah, with running the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The IRGC specializes in aggressive actions to suppress dissidents at home and expand Iran’s influence abroad, particularly in places like Iraq and Syria, where Tehran has used its profits from the Iran nuclear deal to empower its allies.
The IRGC claimed this month that its jihadis are working on a vaccine to fight the Chinese coronavirus and that it would engage in several “biological defense exercises,” as Khamenei has accused the United States of deploying the coronavirus as a biological weapon, without evidence. IRGC officials are using the pandemic to fundraise for further terrorist activities.
Khamenei’s regime claimed this week that it had control of the outbreak in the country and expelled the prestigious humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF). MSF said in a statement it was “deeply surprised” by its unceremonious removal as Iran had already allowed two cargo planes full of medical supplies to land in the country.
Iran is currently facing the deadliest regional outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East. Official government numbers – which even regional Iranian government officials claim are incorrect and lower than the real extent of the problem – show nearly 30,000 cases of coronavirus in the country and slightly over 2,200 deaths. The dissident National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which has kept its own daily tally citing medical sources in the country, claims that the death toll is far higher, and the highest in the world. As of Thursday, the NCRI says it has confirmed over 11,500 deaths at the hands of the Chinese coronavirus in Iran.
Both Iranian officials and dissidents agree that the first cases of coronavirus in the country were identified in Qom, a city of religious significance for Shiite Muslims. NCRI accused Chinese nationals traveling to the city of bringing the virus with them in a report on Thursday.
The Chinese coronavirus pandemic began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in November 2019, according to scientists who have traced back diagnoses to that month. The Chinese Communist Party did not make the existence of a contagious disease in the country public until late January 2020, allowing the free traffic of Wuhan residents worldwide amid Lunar New Year, one of the world’s biggest travel occasions. The Communist Party now denies that the virus originated in Wuhan and claims it was biologically engineered in the United States, citing no evidence. Iran has made similar claims.