Introduction to Clare Lopez
Clare M. Lopez is a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on Middle East, national defense, WMD, and counterterrorism issues. Specific areas of expertise include Islam and Iran. Lopez began her career as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), serving domestically and abroad for 20 years in a variety of assignments, and acquiring extensive expertise in counterintelligence, counternarcotics, and counterproliferation issues with a career regional focus on the former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. She has served in or visited over two dozen nations worldwide, and speaks several languages, including Spanish, Bulgarian, French, German, and Russian, and currently is studying Farsi.
Now a private consultant, Lopez also serves as Vice President of the non-profit forum, The Intelligence Summit, and is a Professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies (CI Centre), where she teaches courses on the Iranian Intelligence Services, and the expanding influence of Jihad and Sharia in Europe and the U.S. She is affiliated on a consultant basis with DoD contractors that provide clandestine operations training to military intelligence personnel. Lopez was Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee, a Washington, DC think tank, from 2005-2006. She has served as a Senior Scientific Researcher at the Battelle Memorial Institute; a Senior Intelligence Analyst, Subject Matter Expert, and Program Manager at HawkEye Systems, LLC.; and previously produced Technical Threat Assessments for U.S. Embassies at the Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, where she worked as a Senior Intelligence Analyst for Chugach Systems Integration.
Lopez received a B.A. in Communications and French from Notre Dame College of Ohio (NDC) and an M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She completed Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, Virginia before declining a commission in order to join the CIA. Lopez is a member of the Board of Directors for the Institute of World Affairs and also serves on the Advisory Board for the Intelligence Analysis and Research program and as an occasional guest lecturer at her undergraduate alma mater, NDC. She has been a Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University and a guest lecturer on terrorism, national defense, international relations, and Iran there, at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, and the National Defense Intelligence College in Washington, D.C. Lopez is a regular contributor to print and broadcast media on subjects related to Iran, Islam, counterterrorism, and the Middle East and is the co-author of two published books on Iran.
Interview with Clare Lopez (former CIA) in Washington, D.C.
Well, Amal was a collection of militias, Shiite militias in Lebanon in the early 1980s and it is out of Amal that Hezbollah was formed. The groups that formed Hezbollah came from Amal. When the Iranians decided that they would use the vector of the Shiite population already there in Southern Lebanon to form a base of operations for the expansion of Iran’s own revolution they went and made contact with the Amal militias and it is out the Amal militias that Hezbollah was formed.
In the early 1980s as Iran expanded its influence into Southern Lebanon where the Shiite population was located primarily they began to work with some of the preexisting militias there like Amal. It was the IRGC, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp and specifically the overseas terrorist liaison element of the IRGC, which is called the “Quds Force,” which established a presence there in Lebanon together with operatives from Iran’s intelligence services called the MOIS or Ministry of Intelligence and Security. So they moved into Southern Lebanon and they began to shape these militias under the control of the Quds Force. They trained them, they armed them, they funded them, and out of that corp grew Hezbollah.
Okay, well probably the first big attack that Hezbollah is known for most notoriously I guess you might say was the 1983 actually series of attacks. In 1983 Hezbollah attacked of course the Marine Corp barracks. It also attacked the U.S. Embassy, it attacked the French forces which were there at the time.
There was a peacekeeping element in Lebanon at the time under the aegis of the United Nations. As you probably – not as you probably know, nobody knows anything, [chuckles]. Three, two, one, there was a United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon at the time. This is the midst of the terrible Lebanese civil war that ran from about 1975 until the Syrians invaded and took over in 1990. So this period of time of the early 1980s is right in the middle of that civil war period when militias were fighting all over Lebanon.
So there was a peacekeeping unit assigned from the United Nations onto the United Nations responsibility in Lebanon at the time. And there were elements from the United States, from France, and from other allies present. The French had a military barracks there. The United Nations had a Marine Corp presence in Beirut in a barracks where they stayed. So what happened is that this was almost Hezbollah’s entry unto the world stage of terrorism if you will. They mounted this attack against our Marine Corp barracks.