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Lightning Out of Lebanon: Hezbollah Terrorists on American Soil Hardcover – March 1, 2005

3.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a compact and cogent addition to the literature on terrorism, two expert journalists join forces for a portrait of how a Hezbollah cell in Charlotte, N.C., was broken up a little more than a year before September 11. In clear prose with a minimum of political ax-grinding, Newman (The Covenant) and Diaz (Making a Killing) provide biographies of cell leader Mohammed Youssef Hammoud (from his origins in the Shiite slums of Beirut) and member Said Harb; the FBI agents and federal prosecutors (who overcame bureaucratic inertia and civil libertarian–fostered barriers to accumulate the evidence that led to Hammoud's prosecution); and many incidental players along the way. They also provide clear historical summaries of the religious and ethnic divides in the Middle East, and portraits of lesser-known phenomena such as the role of Paraguay (and its borders with Argentina and Brazil) in providing havens for international terrorists. The authors' skill at characterization of friends and foes puts a great many thriller writers in the shade, and at no point do they fall into stereotyping. Embedded in the book is an argument for the kind of interagency intelligence sharing that is still in its infancy. (Mar. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Before the terrorist attack of 9/11, Hezbollah in Lebanon had been responsible for more American deaths by terrorism, according to Newman and Diaz. The cell network of this "party of God" is broad and contains substantial sleeper cells throughout the U.S. that have been scrutinized by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. Drawing on those investigations, the authors profile the activities of a Hezbollah cell in Charlotte, North Carolina. They detail activities involving cigarette and drug smuggling to operating front charitable organizations, all aimed at financing the purchase of weapons, high-tech equipment, and fraudulent passports. From its inception, the group has also received substantial support from Iran. While revealing our vulnerability to terrorists penetrating out national borders, the authors argue for greater latitude for law enforcement agencies to operate in controlling our borders, balanced against concerns about erosion of civil liberties. This is a frightening look at the need to recognize the potential for further terrorist danger on American soil and what will be required to prevent it. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press; 1st edition (March 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345475682
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345475688
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,507,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was particularly interested in this book because I live reasonably close to Charlotte, North Carolina, and I remember being pretty surprised at the news in 2000 that a cigarette-smuggling ring of Hezbollah operatives had been broken up in the Queen City. My interest waned fairly quickly, though, as I thought of the suspects as criminals rather than terrorists. Back before 2001, you just didn't think about terrorists planning to take their murderous jihad to American soil - especially North Carolina. Of course, such perceptions changed after 9/11, and the story of law enforcement's success in crippling this particular terror cell is of paramount interest to me now. Lightning Out of Lebanon: Hezbollah Terrorists on American Soil is a real eye-opener. Besides making an unassailable case that Hezbollah terror cells are operating within numerous United States cities right now, it shows just how lax and inefficient our counterterrorism efforts were and still are, how uncooperative "friendly" governments can be in terrorist matters, and how obscenely easy it has been for terrorists to gain illegal entry into the country and establish themselves here. The ring leader of the Charlotte Hezbollah cell even secured a government small business loan to aid him in his money-raising efforts. The book is also inspirational and hopeful, however, as it shows how effective our law enforcement and security agents can be when they work together as equals.

This is not just the story of the Charlotte Hezbollah cell; Lightning Out of Lebanon gives an insightful overview of Hezbollah itself - its history, tactics, and deadly potential. According to the authors, Hezbollah is potentially much more dangerous than Al Qaeda because it is much more efficient, disciplined, and organized.
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Format: Hardcover
What are Hezbollah terrorists doing in the United States? Why are they in Charlotte, Dearborn, New York City, Newark, Boston, Chicago, Louisville, Houston, Atlanta, Tampa, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland? And why are they engaged in criminal activities there?

This book explains some of the answers about who they are, how they get here, and what many of them do once they are here. And it explains, suspense and all, how a cell of terrorists in Charlotte was rounded up.

The moral of this tale is simple. We could have stopped the 9/11 terrorists a couple of times, had we simply allowed our intelligence people and crime investigators to cooperate. We will need to be prepared for more terror. And unless we do something to prevent it, one day there will be an even bigger disaster.

We are vulnerable to attacks on our food, water, power, and transportation. "The biggest threat to our civil liberties is our continuing inability to deal with the threat [of terrorism] in a reasonable time." Obviously, if several hundred thousand Americans were to die in one or more terrorist attacks, both that and our response to it would reduce our liberties severely.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a highly informative little book on Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist organization with a global reach. The authors detail the history of religious conflict in Lebanon, the birth of Hezbollah out of the early 1980s Lebanon Civil War, and the role of the Iranian government in financing and facilitating Hezbollah's illicit deeds. They review well chronicled tales of Hezbollah terrorist attacks on US interests abroad - most famously, the 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombing and the Kohbar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1996 - and against Israel. They also tell us a great deal about Hezbollah's extensive operations in South America's lawless Tri-Border Region (the area bordering Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil) and its deadly attacks on the Israeli embassy (1992) and a Jewish community center (1994) in Buenos Aires. The experience in Argentina, the authors say, illustrates how Hezbollah operatives infiltrate a foreign country and establish support cells that can be activated with lethal effect whenever the leaders in Lebanon or their Iranian sponsors deem it in their interests.

In the U.S., the authors focus on Hezbollah support cells in Charlotte, NC and Dearborn, MI, although they identify at least 14 US cities where the terrorist organization is known to be active. The support cells engage in various criminal enterprises to raise funds for Hezbollah. In Charlotte, the illicit activity of choice was smuggling cigarettes into parts of Michigan in order to avoid heavy local sales taxes. This cost Michigan taxpayers some $3.7 million in lost tax revenue, much of which found its way to Hezbollah's coffers in Lebanon.
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