An AP report carried in USA Today cited an official close to Hezbollah who said that al-Laqis held some of Hezbollah’s most sensitive portfolios and was close to the group’s secretary-general, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.
“The brother martyr Hassan al-Laqis spent his youth and all his life in this honorable resistance since its inception up until the last moments of his life,” the statement said.
Lebanon’s Daily Star cited an unnamed high-ranking security official who told the paper that “at least one unidentified gunman, using a 9-mm silenced gun, shot and wounded Lakkis in the head and the neck five times outside his home in Hadath.”
The Lebanese daily also quoted a statement from Hezbollah: “The Israeli enemy tried to kill Lakkis many times ... but its attempts failed until this foul assassination overnight.”
Hezbollah, whose name means “Party of God” in Arabic, is a Lebanon-based Shiite Islamic militant group and political party. The group was founded in Lebanon during the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982.
During its occupation, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) expelled the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), thereby eliminating Syrian influence over Lebanon, and installed a pro-Israeli, Christian government led by Bachir Gemayel. Gemayel's subsequent assassination resulted in further chaos in the country, and the lengthy Israeli occupation (1982-1985) following the invasion created resentment in Lebanon and led to the establishment of Hezbollah as an anti-occupation resistance movement. During its founding, Hezbollah received financial assistance from the Shiite leadership of Iran and its forces were trained by a contingent of 1,500 Iranian Revolutionary Guards — a branch of Iran’s military.
Following the withdrawal of Israeli troops in 1985, it would have been thought that Hezbollah's purpose would have disappeared, but the militant group only grew in size, influence, and power. It continues to receive support from Iran and Syria.
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Photo of Lebanese mourners carrying the coffin of Hassan al-Laqis in Beirut December 4: AP Images