Michael Totten

Hezbollah: First Contact

Hezbollah Roadside Propaganda.jpg
I got the phone number for Hezbollah’s press and propaganda office. So I called them.
(Ring ring.)
Hezbollah: Alloe?
Me: Yes, hello sir, may I please speak with Mr. Hussein ________?
Hezbollah: He is not here.
Me: Do you know when he will be in, please?
Hezbollah: I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW!
Me: I am an American journalist and I would like to make an appointment with him.
Hezbollah: What is your name?
Me: Michael.
Hezbollah: Mr. Michael, he is not here.
Me: Will he be in later today?
Hezbollah: I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW. Call back later. I will kindly tell him you would like to speak with him.
Later…
(Ring ring.)
Hezbollah: Alloe?
Me: Yes, hello sir, may I please speak with Mr. Hussein ________?
Hezbollah: One moment please.
(Click.)
(Cheesy 19th Century American Wild West saloon music played in my ear while I was on hold.)
Hezbollah: Alloe?
Me: Yes, hello sir, is this Mr. Hussein ________?
Hezbollah: (Suspiciously) Yes.
Me: Hello sir, how are you doing?
Hezbollah: Fine.
Me: My name is Michael. I am an American journalist and I would like set up an appointment for an interview and a press tour if that would be possible.
Hezbollah: I cannot talk to you. I do not have permission to talk to the press.
Me: I’m sorry. Someone gave me this number and told me you were the person I needed to talk to.
Hezbollah: (Silence.)
Me: Can you please direct me to the right person?
Hezbollah: WHO ARE YOU? WHAT DO YOU WANT?
Me: I would like to set up an appointment for an interview and a press tour if that would be possible. I am interested in Hezbollah and Hezbollah’s projects in the suburbs south of Beirut.
Hezbollah: Who do you work for?
Me: I work for ________.
Hezbollah: What do you want?
Me: I would like to set up an appointment for an interview and a press tour. I am very interested in Hezbollah.
Hezbollah: When do you expect to arrive in Lebanon?
Me: I am in Beirut right now.
Hezbollah: (Silence)
Me: Can I make an appointment?
Hezbollah: I do not have permission to speak to you. I do not know who you are. Can you come down to my office?
Me: Yes, of course, I would love to.
Hezbollah: You have to come here RIGHT NOW.
Me: I’m sorry, sir, I cannot come down there right now. Would it be possible for me to see you tomorrow?
(Tomorrow is the Muslim day of prayer, and Ramadan just started.)
Hezbollah: Yes, of course, please call me tomorrow.
Me: Thank you so much. I look forward to speaking with you tomorrow.
Hezbollah: Okay, bye-bye.
(Click.)
UPDATE: I sincerely appreciate the concern for my safety in the comments. But please understand that Hezbollah has an explicit No Kidnapping policy. They have had that policy for many years, and they stick to it. Journalists go down there all the time. Hezbollahland a creepy place. I wouldn’t want to rent an apartment down there. (!) But it’s not a head-chopping place. They have a press office. I am not going to get myself killed walking into that office unless I wave a gun in somebody’s face.