Hezbollah’s own security apparatus, through both close monitoring of state and non-state institutions and operational control at the country’s borders, is central to its influence.
Hezbollah diverges greatly from other political parties in Lebanon in that its own security apparatus plays a central role in enabling the group to hold sway over Lebanese state institutions, whether military or civilian. One component through which Hezbollah does this is its Unit 900, which engages in close monitoring of state and non-state institutions. The unit has agents and delegates among the employees in the Lebanese state’s military, security and civil administrations. Unit 900 also monitors Lebanon’s universities, schools, theatres, media channels, international airport and seaports, private banks and commercial companies. The unit includes the Sources Department, which is a group of liaison officers, distributed across the country’s governorates, who collect information on state institutions through agents within those institutions, as well as through Hezbollah’s constituents across Lebanon. In all its operations, Unit 900 effectively carries out the functions of the state intelligence or internal security agencies, except that its role is reversed, monitoring Lebanese state and non-state institutions.
The second component through which Hezbollah holds sway over Lebanese state institutions is operations. According to interviews conducted with military operatives in Lebanon in 2020, Hezbollah’s Transportation Unit 112 is responsible for transporting weapons, precision missiles, money and other smuggled goods to and from Lebanon, as well as for smuggling and money-laundering operations in Africa and the Americas. Unit 112 contains sub-units, namely the Land Crossings Unit 108, and the Airport and Port Unit. These sources stated that Unit 108 is responsible for transporting weapons, money and technology between Syria and Lebanon, including weapons transport through Damascus airport and across the Iraq–Syria border.
At the Port of Beirut, facilities like Hangar 9 and Hangar 12 are under the control of Unit’s 112’s Airport and Port Unit and are not subject to the authority of the Lebanese state. Through these facilities, as well as through Beirut airport, goods and people enter and leave the country with no official record of their transit.
Another component of influence is what is termed ‘liaison’. In these operations, Hezbollah coordinates with state entities through the Liaison and Coordination Unit, also known as Unit 927. This unit, formerly called the Security Committee, has since 1987 been headed by Wafiq Safa. Unit 927’s task is to coordinate with state institutions (civil, military, judiciary and security) and political parties, and it makes monthly payments to state officials who help it from within the General Security, the Lebanese Armed Forces and other state institutions. As an example of how it functions, Unit 927 liaison officers can inform airport and port officials of the arrival of a particular shipment at a specified time, enabling the shipment to be removed from all official records; in return for their facilitation, Hezbollah pays most of the state officials involved in such operations through shares of fees collected by the Lebanese Customs and General Security Administration.