Mohammed Afif, the new head of public relations for the Lebanese-based Iranian-backed terror organization Hezbollah, gave a rare New York Times interview as Lebanese experts reveal his group is indirectly receiving American intelligence aid in its fight against Islamic State (ISIS).
Following ISIS's temporary conquest of Arsal last month on the Lebanese side of the Syrian border, the US sent new weapons to the Lebanese army, which coordinates with Hezbollah. Likewise, US intelligence has found its way to Hezbollah according to Lebanese experts.
That leaked intelligence may explain some recent impressive achievements against ISIS, including the first known Hezbollah drone strike.
It is worth noting by contrast to the blasé indirect provision of intelligence and weapons to a terror group in Lebanon, during Operation Protective Edge US President Barack Obama blocked a routine Hellfire missile shipment to Israel and ordered strict supervision on future transfers.
Afif told the American newspaper "we need to open up a new page with the world media, with the Arabs and internationally," hinting at the international legitimacy he hopes to achieve for the terror group under his role as media adviser to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Nasrallah recently expressed his fears of the ISIS "monster," calling the fight with the group "a battle of life and death no less important than fighting the Israeli enemy, as (ISIS) actions and objectives only serve Israel." Indeed Hezbollah has called to wipe out Israel numerous times, and fought terror wars against the Jewish state.
Ali Rizk, a Lebanese analyst at the pro-Hezbollah Al-Mayadeen news channel, told the New York Times that while the US cannot publicly ally with the terrorist organization Hezbollah, "what happens underneath is something totally different."
Justifying the aid, Rizk said "Hezbollah is not representing an imminent threat against the world. It represents a threat against Israel, as Israel represents a threat against Lebanon. But Hezbollah is not going to threaten the US and Europe. Nobody said Hezbollah is cutting off heads."
While Hezbollah may be benefiting indirectly from the US, it remains antagonistic to America over Syria, where it has joined Iran in supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad against the very rebels the US is arming. However, the ISIS threat has indeed raised talk that the US may even join forces with Hezbollah's sponsor Iran.
Afif blamed Americans for causing ISIS by supporting Syrian rebels, saying "this beast which you raised up, as in past cases, you find it’s dangerous for you."