LEBANON: AMAL AND THE HIGGINS KIDNAPPING

Created: 2/25/1988

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

directorateof intelligence

Amal's efforts In Southern Lebanonocale LTC Higjlns have beenrriction between pro-Iranian in era ben and lojaliiii of local AmalDaud Oaud. If Higgins is still In (he south, as we suspect he Is, Amalhas the best chance of any group to locate him. Should Higgias be movedsouthern Lebanon, we believe there Is virtually no chance that Amal willuseful Information on his whereabouts. Higgins' continuing captivitya damaging blow to the prestige of Amal and Daud Daud andperceptions that Hizballah was eclipsingj

t> preparedDiviiion, OfCceof Nej

Eastern and Souih Asian Analytii. Comraenis antjfi}uerics may be directed vWW

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Since LTCHigiins'ibduciiononebruary, numerous reliable reports hivethat the Shii militia Amal has mounted an effort to find him. Amal is embarrassed dial iu rival Hizballah (or at least elements ofouldN official la en ires nominally under Amal's control.

J

I'j Standing In the South

We believehit lifnififant problems- in

ihe touth which mnutim in iMirr la fifid Hir-

gin< irtd enmbat HiihatiiYs influence:

Hiiballah'% campaign of attacks against Ihe Israelis and pro-lirieli truTitias ia louthera Lebanon has crodeJAmaTt popular support,

I's reluctance to Join in these attacks casts Ams! In the role of Israel's friend In southern Lebanon.

izballah has infiltrated Amal in an effort lo compromise Amal'1 leadership [_

Khomeini boosts the radical fundamental-Isu' prestige mflHai

Despite these probierrtj. we fudte thaietains itibiianilal strentih Infj;bsriort.

Amal in ihe south has inherited the le-giiiroicy of tbe rcscrvcrnenu' founder. Imam Muss Sadr. and can claim to beolicy he'eapoused.

Amal is Identified more there with

H tfutn with Nabih Barrf. Daud has had some success in urtderculuiig Hizballah's influence,assive Arnil defoliationTyre in6 and pubEdy destroyingC0 copies of Hizballah'sALAi_J.

Aoial's support of the UN preseoce and its cocdertioauoci of Hizballah attacks against UNTFIL has the bidcing of roost southernizballah terrnlnaied lis attacks agiiast UNTFTL in6 and belatedlyublic relationsto response to AmaTs charges of Hizballah rctponsibliry.

Amal's suength lo southern Lebanon-la lernu of coaunJtled supporte rs-probably itiil exceeds HizJaallaiYi.

Amal can turn lo Damascus for sub-sunuai rniliury and political assistance

and Iran provide subsuntial financial aid and social welfare programs lo (he southern Shia. nuking it difficult for the gerser. ally pragmatic southerners iD . , Amal.

Amal's chronic financial problems have made it unable to compete effectively with Hizballah.

Nabih Barri's close iiienlificaiidttyria lessens Amars prestige in the sooth; Hizballah's Identification with the martyred southern Shis, cleric Shavkh Ragheb Harts. Ayitollah Fadlal-lah, other southerner clerics, and Ayitollah

Political Constraints lo Ceoperalron wlih The United Sulci

We believe that political concerns limit Ajpaja ability to cooperate openly wilha

- Working with US (or worse. Israeli) forces would open AjnaJ to criticism that it was working with the main enemy of Lebanon'i Shias. (ran and Hizballah have already accused Amal of betraying Islam for ihe sake ofS spy and Zionism-"

The arrest ind prrijable trial in the United Sulci of the lene level Amal officialuriiion tcrroriitchargesmakesmini' Axnil rrvembers hostile to working with the United Stales on the Higgins kidnappin $.

Amal officials miy believe their prutigc would be damaged if ihey did not demon-Slrate iheir clout by trying to rescueihcmsel'

Outlook

pressure on the Israeli security rone inLabinon. had probably notlear winner. Nonetheless, the situation Ii volatile and Isolated Amal-HitbalUh clashes already have takenajoroiost eeruirjy would endanger Higgins' life or increase pressure on his eaotors to move him out of the south .m

If Higgins Is not released soon, hiswill Increasingly icpicstBt avictory over AmaL The Initialsupport tor AmiTs efforts to findlo bavc crested and theclerical criticism of rescue effortsAmiTsJ

probably is not strong enough to rescue Higgins urdepeaelcnUy. but it may be able io locate him it he remains in southern Lebanon. The more time that Hizballah has toampaign against Amal, bow-ever, ihe more likely Amal searches will become

It Higgins Is movedouihern Lebi-noAbelieve that the chances thai Amal will rescue him or obtain useful informstioa on his location become almost rul. Wethai ones ha is taken to the Bckaa Valley or West Beirut, pressure from Iran to have access to Higgins would increase tigniO-eanily. and Iranian policy concerns wouldHizballah decisionmaking about how long and with what degree of security to bold Higgins. Iraa doubtless believes that useful intelligence could be extracted from Higginsrotracted inlerTogattoa.]flHBaisk that Amal-HuoaUahwill grow andajor showdown. Both groups-and their Syrian and Iranian pa-trons'.want toostly confrontation that would polariu ihe Shia comnwrtiry. endanger Syrian-Uanljn ties, erode

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