You can read this as 'How evil terrorists fool people into believing they're not', or 'why some people support hezbollah'. Take your pick.
Originally Posted by Boston Globe
With speed, Hezbollah picks up the shovel
Group's engineers, funds pour into war torn Lebanon
By Thanassis Cambanis, Globe Staff *|* August 19, 2006
BEIRUT -- Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's grand promises to rebuild Lebanon began to materialize at Shahed High School yesterday, in the form of neat packs of $12,000 in US dollars handed without ceremony to people displaced from their homes.
``I like Hezbollah more and more," said Riyadh Nasser, 53, as he waited in a south Beirut suburb for the money from the Shi'ite Islamist movement. The money is meant to pay for a year's rent and new furniture, until his original home can be rebuilt.
Glossy posters of Nasrallah and the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, surrounded Nasser in the high school classroom-turned-branch office for Construction Jihad, as Hezbollah calls its engineering department.
Lebanon's government is still talking about its own reconstruction plan, but Hezbollah has already flexed its organizational muscle to deploy heavy machinery, hundreds of engineers, and thousands of workers across the country, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in the process leaving the government looking flat-footed.
Flush with cash that it says comes from Iran, Syria, and other donors, including Islamic charities and Shi'ite groups, Hezbollah was able to hire contractors and give money to the displaced even before the shooting stopped. The donor largesse has enabled Hezbollah to plan for reconstruction with a budget party officials described as ``without limit." Meanwhile, Lebanon's debt-saddled government is still seeking reconstruction financing from Western and Arab donors.
Nasrallah promised when a cease-fire halted the monthlong war on Monday that the ``Party of God," which led Lebanon into the conflict with a cross-border raid into Israel, would also lead the reconstruction effort.
Through the first week of the cease-fire, the intensive Hezbollah effort has underscored the group's speed and strength relative to the central government's plodding bureaucracy. With its urgent efforts, the group also signaled to Lebanese that it was prepared to assert itself in the country's postwar political dynamic.
``The Lebanese state takes three months to bring help. The United Nations takes three years. Hezbollah is there the next day," said Timur Goksel, who worked as a liaison officer in Lebanon between Hezbollah and the United Nations in Lebanon for more than a decade and knows the group intimately.
While bombs were still falling, Hezbollah bulldozers were already clearing debris from roads and paths around craters. Then, within hours of the cease-fire, engineers from Hezbollah's public works department began taking inventory of the destroyed homes, offices, roads and infrastructure of Beirut and southern Lebanon.
By the end of last week, they had already moved into the next phase, tearing down half-destroyed buildings and carting rubble to the edge of towns and neighborhoods.
``As we won the war with the Israelis, we will win this battle also," architect Khodor Baalbaky, 24, said on Thursday afternoon as he picked his way past one of hundreds of destroyed apartment blocs in southern Beirut.
Baalbaky noted every damaged apartment or shop on a sheaf of plans in a pink binder. Around him construction crews shoveled rubble out of the way to begin an accelerated effort that Baalbaky thinks will rebuild most private homes within a few months.
Hezbollah defines itself as a militant resistance movement; the United States and Israel consider it a terrorist organization that is bent on destroying Israel. But Hezbollah has distinguished itself from similar groups in the region by the efficiency of its public services for its Shi'ite constituents.
The group's reconstruction effort serves another aim as well -- to discredit the secular government, whose leaders have criticized Nasrallah for dragging the whole country into a war only Hezbollah wanted.
``We have to take care of the people who stood by our side in this crisis as quickly as possible," said Abou Ahmed, 45, the Hezbollah official in charge of reconstruction in the heavily bombed southern suburbs of Beirut, where hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite Hezbollah supporters live. Like many senior Hezbollah cadres, he would only be identified by his nickname.
He handled a crush of volunteers, contractors, and displaced people submitting claims yesterday at a makeshift Hezbollah help center in borrowed space in a computer training institute. Hezbollah officials processed papers, while Abou Ahmed harangued engineers and contractors over the phone.
Hezbollah has started distributing grants -- usually $12,000 -- and plans by the end of another week to have given awards to every family of the thousands in Beirut's southern suburbs who the group says need temporary housing. The organization also plans by the end of next week to finish a house-by-house assessment of every damaged and destroyed dwelling in the country.
Abou Ahmed's desk was covered with a detailed map marking every building in southern Beirut. Destroyed buildings were marked in red, partially damaged buildings in green.
A cellphone pressed to each ear, he yelled at one volunteer to push for contractors to submit proposals immediately; on the other phone, he told a man named Mohammed that he could make his own repairs and get reimbursement from Hezbollah, or he could wait two days for a Hezbollah crew to come to his home.
``Our concern is that life gets back to normal," he said.
Lebanon's government, meanwhile, has scurried to present its own reconstruction plan, but its response has been markedly slower than Hezbollah's.
``We are thinking, we are laying the ground for a housing project which would help people rebuild the damaged homes," said Nayla Mouawad, Lebanon's minister of social affairs. ``We are here."
Hezbollah has kicked off its reconstruction program with a heavy dose of propaganda. In areas close to the international media, they've placed showy red English signs atop piles of rubble reading ``Trademark: Made in USA." In Beirut and in southern towns cities like Tyre, Hezbollah activists have claimed credit for the work of construction crews actually dispatched by the government's civil defense service.
Sheik Nabil Kawouk, the Hezbollah official in charge of southern Lebanon, thanked Iran and Syria as he stood atop a destroyed building in a suburb of Tyre.
``This triumph is the triumph of all Lebanon," he said. ``We will rebuild our country even better than it was before."
In southern Beirut, signs taped to chunks of concrete and demolished houses directed people to Hezbollah offices where they could submit financial claims, with detailed instructions about the necessary documentation. A loudspeaker blared a martial Hezbollah song with a zippy tune: ``America, America, you're the great Satan," the chorus said.
It takes Hezbollah only three days to process the individual grant requests.
In a country where the per capita income is $6,200, Hezbollah's $12,000 award is an impressive brick of cash.
In another classroom at Shahed High School, a brother and sister beamed as a Hezbollah member handed them $12,000 in new American bills.
``I'm shocked they were able to get this together so fast," said the sister, Rima Oweidat, 26. ``I feel that Hezbollah is the government. They protect us."