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Sayyed Zulfiqar’s Legacy: The Military Media Unit

Sayyed Zulfiqar’s Legacy: The Military Media Unit
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By Latifa Al-Husseini

It’s been eight years since Sayyed Mustafa Badreddine’s passing. His absence has been felt, but his memory is ever present. The well of secrets is still overflowing, and stories are flooding out. Talking about him is characterized by passion that leads one to explore more about his courage, rigor, steadfastness, and accomplishments.

He was known as Sayyed Zulfiqar within the military community, and he understood early on the importance of the image in the work of the resistance. The objective was to preserve the achievements of the resistance and wage psychological warfare against the enemy’s ranks, with the camera was at the core.

Striking deeper at the occupiers, the commander of the central military operations in the resistance sought to destroy their morale and projects.

When delving into the roles of Sayyed Zulfiqar during the life of jihad, the resistance’s military media unit stands out as one of the most important productions or advanced and ongoing projects in the vision of the military leader during the nineties.

Shortly after the founding of Hezbollah in 1982 and following a series of military operations targeting enemy points and fortifications, Sayyed noticed that capturing the moments of raids and attacks is a necessity that parallels the military operation itself.

He understood the importance of the media. He learned how the camera accompanied the mujahideen between 1982 and 1983 and how filming operations were managed by members of what was known as the technical committee for Islamic action.

He looked at the scenes of the Wadi Gilo Operation in 1983, as it was the first recorded operation. He watched the filming of the operations of Sujud in 1986 and Al-Dabsha in 1994. He delved into their importance, especially since they were the first operations to include the raising of the yellow flag over enemy posts and direct instructions to the military photographers during the implementation. Then, he moved into action in 1995 and 1996.

When he was tasked with leading resistance operations in 1995, Sayyed gave priority to media work. Roles were assigned to the fighters and photographers, the same as in jihad.

For this reason, Sayyed began translating the principles and ideas he designed to support the resistance and hit the enemy on both the battlefield and the screens. He summoned everyone who worked in photography and gathered energies and competencies for the primary goal of motivating the media staff to preserve the achievements of the resistance fighters and to undermine the morale of the “Israelis”.

It is true that the team was not complete during the first session after the April 1996 war. The number of participants did not exceed the fingers on one hand, but everyone responded to the Sayyed’s directives and understood the need for giving the media the utmost importance.

According to information, following this session, Sayyed sent a team to the south to film the launches of Katyusha rockets. He, then, supervised the production of flash videos (short video clips) depicting the martyrs, especially the martyrdom brigades, which had a great impact and influence on the enemy.

One of his comrades in arms recalls that media criticism of the artistic direction of resistance operations dominated by the character of Sayyed Zulfiqar, and this appeared in more than one operation shown on screens. Sayyed delved into the details of the recorded will of martyr Salah Ghandour – nom de guerre Malak – in 1995. He concluded at the time that the image was not up to the required standard.

Therefore, he inquired about the reasons and instructed that the problem be addressed by purchasing professional photography lenses, even if they were expensive. Indeed, the situation changed, and capturing the raids, bomb explosions, and even wills became more accurate, and clearer. Eventually, the camera could focus directly on the pillbox.

With the succession of operations and the expansion of the confrontation with the occupation forces, Sayyed diversified the criteria for military media jobs. He planned, prepared, supervised, and participated in the production of materials that were issued and broadcast exclusively on Al-Manar Channel. Between 1996 and 1997, he increased the number of media productions aimed at threatening the settlements, the most prominent of which was the Safed flash video.

After 1996, Sayyed Zulfiqar took the initiative to hold a press conference in the Iqlim al-Tuffah region and brought together local and foreign media. The goal was to instill morale among the resistance crowd and launch a psychological war against the enemy. He moderated the meeting and spoke personally as a resistance officer and not a leader. His direct dealings with the media explained the rationale and details of the resistance operations and were used to send threating and intimidating messages to the occupier, establishing the equations of fire, Katyushas, and demolition of settlements.

Hezbollah accumulated 10 years of experience in recording operations on the battlefields. In 1997, Sayyed decided to raise the performance level. He assembled a military media team, provided it with a permanent center in Beirut with extensive equipment to meet its needs, and it became directly subordinate to him.

With the aim of improving the quality of work, he sent a group to Iran for an intensive specialized course supervised by brilliant university professors, including filmmaker and journalist Nader Talebzadeh. He insisted they return with distinguished certificates. He felt that the resistance’s media must reach world-class technical quality.

Sayyed Zulfiqar also established a fixed rule in the work of the resistance fighters and the military media unit: the recorded will of the martyrs. As of 1997, this was adopted as a jihadi tradition, and all the axes were told to follow it. There is no discussion of the mission that turned into a jihadist duty before carrying out military operations. The wills were a necessity attached to everyone who gave his life and headed to the front, whether he returned alive carrying the banner of victory or a martyr.

Sayyed’s interest in the military media and his follow-up was evident in one of the qualitative resistance operations: the storming of the Beit Yahoun site in 1999. The achievement led to the destruction of the enemy’s site after exceeding all the occupation’s fortification that it had adopted in the Haddatha and Baraachit sites.

The more precious and painful the catch was, the keener Sayyed became to ensure the readiness of the military media unit’s photographer and his ability to capture all the details on the battlefield.

Before carrying out the operation that day, Sayyed asked the photographer if he was ready. He replied that he needed some time to get all the angles. Despite the Mujahideen's readiness to engage, Sayyed linked the launch of the operation to the photographer's ability to capture the scene from beginning to end. When he got confirmation, he authorized the attack. The picture and the weapon are two equal powers in Sayyed’s dictionary.

According to Sayyed’s logic, the appearance of the resistance fighter was important. One of his comrades-in-arms says that Sayyed played a major role in polishing the appearance of the Mujahideen.

The media body was organized in form and content. The appearance of the resistance fighters, too. The rule was that the fighter must look good on the front. His comrades-in-arms no longer went to the battlefield without a unified military uniform

In the media structure that Sayyed Zulfiqar created, developing energies was a recommendation from the entire body. They should not limit themselves to mere courses for training and honing expertise, but rather everyone should join all technical training that would benefit photographers, directors, and technicians.

Subsequently, Sayyed Zulfiqar began expanding the map of the military media unit’s centers. After Beirut, he allocated a center in the south that included 13 Mujahideen dedicated to photographing and documenting military operations by forming teams in the south and the Western Bekaa. One of the most prominent achievements by the resistance and shot by the young men of the military media unit in the Western Bekaa was the liquidation of the commander of the “Israeli” occupation forces in southern Lebanon Erez Gerstein in 1999.

Sayyed Zulfiqar armed the military media unit with all the required capabilities. For him, the goal was to satisfy any need that might hinder or delay the work of resistance media personnel on the front. Therefore, he ordered the spending of budgets that provide editing services and support the military media unit with resources and modern equipment that is equivalent to the equipment of the local and Arab channels at the time to produce the entire material in the military media unit’s centers.

Attending the military media unit’s production of operations was an almost obligatory task to Sayyed Zulfiqar, especially in quantitative operations. He supervised the material that would be published in accordance with the resistance’s standards, goals, policies, and controls. He gave direct instructions, asked, and inquired. In order to facilitate matters, he was keen to facilitate the movement of photographers during the operation so that they can record every moment. To do this, he gave members of the military media unit cards that facilitate their movement around the front lines without obstacles.

Sayyed Mustafa Badreddine built a regular military force, a continuous media formation, and a resistance that advanced, accomplished, and achieved historic victories. He relied a lot on the role of the media on the front and developed it. It has become an ongoing charity, as acknowledged by his comrades-in-arms and the pictures.

Someone said that working under Sayyed’s wing was a constant development. He instilled in the souls of those who accompanied him in the corridors of the military media unit an exceptional confidence in the ability to break the enemy’s prestige by creating graphic content that supports the resistance’s missiles. They strike the enemy's heart and destroy its machine of lies, propaganda of terror and determined power that only frightens the faint hearted.

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