Hashem Safieddine

Hashem Safieddine is responsible for overseeing Hezbollah’s political, social, cultural, and educational activities. Casey L. Addis and Christopher M. Blanchard, “Hezbollah: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, January 3, 2011, 11, https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/R41446.pdf. As the head of the Executive Assembly, Safieddine is one of seven elected members of Hezbollah’s ruling Shura Council.Jonathan Masters and Zachary Laub, “Hezbollah (a.k.a. Hizbollah, Hizbu’llah),” Council on Foreign Relations, January 3, 2014, http://www.cfr.org/lebanon/hezbollah-k-hizbollah-hizbullah/p9155. He is reportedly next in line to lead Hezbollah as the successor to Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.Dudi Cohen, “Nasrallah replacement chosen,” YNet, October 13, 2008, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3608528,00.html. Safieddine was designated as a terrorist by the United States and Saudi Arabia in May 2017.“State Department Terrorist Designations of Hashem Safieddine and Muhammad al-Isawi,” U.S. Department of State, May 19, 2017, https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/05/270982.htm.

Safieddine has been part of Hezbollah’s hierarchy since the group’s inception in 1982.“Beirut Marine Barracks Bombing Fast Facts,” CNN, October 18, 2017, https://www.cnn.com/2013/06/13/world/meast/beirut-marine-barracks-bombing-fast-facts/index.html. In the 1980s, Safieddine reportedly received leadership training in Iran and in 1992, he took over the Executive Assembly after its previous head, Hassan Nasrallah, became secretary-general.“INSIGHT - HZ - More details on reshuffling,” Wikileaks, March 11, 2013, https://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/10/1012276_insight-hz-more-details-on-reshuffling-.html. After accusing Israel of planning to assassinate Hezbollah’s leadership, Nasrallah named Safieddine as his successor in October 2008Roee Nahmias, “Nasrallah: Georgia lost because of Israel,” YNet, August 14, 2008, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3582864,00.html. and two months later named Safieddine his successor.Dudi Cohen, “Nasrallah replacement chosen,” YNet, October 13, 2008, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3608528,00.html.

Safieddine has spoken forcefully against Israel and the U.S. and has guaranteed Hezbollah’s resolve as it fights on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country’s civil war.“Designated terrorist Hashem Safieddine says Hezbollah ‘will not leave Syria’,” Al Arabiya English, July 22, 2018, http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/07/22/Blacklisted-Hezbollah-leader-says-Lebanese-militias-won-t-leave-Syria-.html. Safieddine is Nasrallah’s maternal cousin.“Syria and Iran Come to a Temporary Understanding over Hezbollah,” Stratfor, November 26, 2010, https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/syria-and-iran-come-temporary-understanding-over-hezbollah. His brother, Abdallah Safieddine, is Hezbollah’s representative in Tehran.Michael Isikoff, “Bank accused of laundering drug money for Hezbollah,” NBC News, February 10, 2011, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/41512092/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/bank-accused-laundering-drug-money-hezbollah/#.VQnZhY7F9ks.

On October 7, 2023, Iran-backed and longtime Hezbollah ally Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing at least 1,200 people. Israel subsequently declared war against Hamas and launched a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.“What is Hezbollah, the group backing Hamas against Israel?,” Reuters, October 31, 2024, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/what-is-hezbollah-group-backing-hamas-against-israel-2023-10-30/; Lauren Frayer, “Israel revises down its death toll from the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks to about 1,200,” NPR, November 11, 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/11/11/1212458974/israel-revises-death-toll-hamas-attacks-oct-7; Ibrahim Dahman and Abeer Salman, “Hamas announces ‘Al-Aqsa Storm,’ claims to have fired 5,000 rockets,” CNN, October 7, 2023, https://www.cnn.com/middleeast/live-news/al-aqsa-storm-militants-infiltrate-israel-after-gaza-rockets-10-07-intl-hnk/h_644aa5e5d02286051f5cc307e229566a. Hezbollah and Hamas both belong to the “Axis of Resistance,” an alliance of Iran-backed groups across the Middle East targeting Israel and U.S. interests in the region.“What is Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based group backing Hamas?,” Reuters, April 9, 2024, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/what-is-hezbollah-group-backing-hamas-against-israel-2024-02-15/; “Iran’s allies in Iraq, Yemen threaten U.S. over intervention in Israel,” Reuters, October 10, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/senior-iraqi-political-figure-threatens-target-us-interests-if-it-backs-israel-2023-10-10/. On October 8, Hezbollah began a months-long campaign launching rockets, drones, and missiles toward northern Israel.“Israel, Hezbollah exchange artillery, rocket fire,” Reuters, October 8, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israel-strikes-lebanon-after-hezbollah-hits-shebaa-farms-2023-10-08/.

In response to ongoing Hezbollah attacks, on June 11, 2024, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a rocket attack on a Hezbollah command-and-control center in Jouaiyya in southern Lebanon. The airstrike killed Taleb Sami Abdullah, a veteran field commander, as well as three other Hezbollah operatives. According to the IDF, Abdullah was responsible for planning and carrying out numerous terror attacks against Israelis.David Gritten, “Hezbollah fires dozens of rockets into Israel after strike kills commander,” BBC News, July 12, 2024, https://bbc.com/news/articles/c6pp01dge3no. Safieddine spoke at Abdullah’s funeral on June 12, where he vowed Hezbollah would increase the strength and frequency of their attacks against Israel. By that evening, Hezbollah launched 215 projectiles toward Israel, targeting an Israeli military headquarters and a military air surveillance station. According to the Israeli military, there were no reports of casualties. It was one of Hezbollah’s largest attacks since October 2023.Euan Ward, “Hezbollah Launches Rocket Barrage After Israeli Strike Kills a Commander,” New York Times, June 12, 2024, https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/12/world/middleeast/hezbollah-rockets-israel-strike.html.

In response to Hezbollah’s rocket barrage, on June 14, the IDF launched a rocket attack, targeting Safieddine’s home in Deir Qanoun in southern Lebanon. According to media sources, the strike targeted Safeiddine, deputy Hezbollah leader Naim Qassem, and co-founder and former leader Subhi al-Tufayli. Shortly after, an unidentified Hezbollah spokesman claimed the building was empty when it was struck down.“Two killed and at least 20 injured in Israeli strike near Deir Qanoun,” L’Orient Today, June 14, 2024, https://today.lorientlejour.com/article/1417298/paramedic-killed-and-at-least-20-injured-in-israeli-strike-near-deir-qanoun.html.

Also Known As

Extremist entity
Type(s) of Organization:
Militia, political party, social-service provider, terrorist, transnational, violent
Ideologies and Affiliations:
Iranian-sponsored, Islamist, jihadist, Khomeinist, Shiite
Head of Executive Assembly

Hezbollah is an Iranian-sponsored, internationally sanctioned terrorist group with an anti-Israel and anti-U.S. agenda. Hezbollah is primarily based in Lebanon, but has carried out terrorist and criminal operations around the world.

  • Designations
  • Rhetoric

United States

  • The U.S. Department of State lists Hashem Safieddine as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224 in May 2017.“State Department Terrorist Designations of Hashem Safieddine and Muhammad al-Isawi,” U.S. Department of State, May 19, 2017, https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/05/270982.htm.

Saudi Arabia

  • The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia designated Hashem Safieddine as a terrorist under its Law of Terrorism Crimes and Financing and Royal Decree A/44 in May 2017.“State Department Terrorist Designations of Hashem Safieddine and Muhammad al-Isawi,” U.S. Department of State, May 19, 2017, https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/05/270982.htm.

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