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Even while much of the world’s attention has been focused on the threat posed by Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons, Iran’s earliest, and most successful efforts to target its western enemies has been primarily through the use of its chief proxy Hezbollah. While Hezbollah routinely makes news due to its involvement in the Syrian civil war and the threat its Lebanese-based missile arsenal poses to Israel, Hezbollah was formed to serve as a terrorist action arm of Iran’s global Islamic revolution, prior to the September 11th attacks, was responsible for the greatest loss of American life due to terrorism. EMET is pleased to bring counterterrorism expert Matthew Levitt to discuss the global reach and threat posed by Hezbollah, “The Party of God.”
Matthew Levitt is the Fromer-Wexler fellow and director of The Washington Institute’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. From 2005 to early 2007, he served as deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In that capacity, he served both as a senior official within the department’s terrorism and financial intelligence branch and as deputy chief of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, one of sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies coordinated under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. During his tenure at Treasury, Dr. Levitt played a central role in efforts to protect the U.S. financial system from abuse and to deny terrorists, weapons proliferators, and other rogue actors the ability to finance threats to U.S. national security. In 2008-2009, he served as a State Department counterterrorism advisor to the special envoy for Middle East regional security (SEMERS), General James L. Jones.
From 2001 to 2005, Dr. Levitt served the Institute as founding director of its Terrorism Research Program (now renamed as above), which was established in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Previously, he served as a counterterrorism intelligence analyst at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where he provided tactical and strategic analytical support for counterterrorism operations, focusing on fundraising and logistical support networks for Middle Eastern terrorist groups. During his FBI service, Dr. Levitt participated as a team member in a number of crisis situations, including the terrorist threat surrounding the turn of the millennium and the September 11 attacks. He has earned numerous awards and commendations for his government service at both the FBI and the Treasury Department.
Dr. Levitt holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yeshiva University, as well as a master’s degree in law and diplomacy and a doctorate from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He was a graduate research fellow at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation and has taught at both Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Levitt has served as an expert witness in several criminal and civil cases, lectured on international terrorism on behalf of the Departments of State, Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security, consulted for various U.S. government agencies and private industry, and testified before the Senate and House on matters relating to international terrorism. He has held fellowships with the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Homeland Security Policy Institute at the George Washington University, is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves as a member of the international advisory board for both the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel and the International Centre for Political Violence & Terrorism Research in Singapore.
Dr. Levitt has written extensively on terrorism, countering violent extremism, illicit finance and sanctions, the Middle East, and Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, with articles appearing in peer-reviewed journals, policy magazines, and the press, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and numerous other publications. He is also a frequent guest on the national and international media, and the author of several books and monographs, including Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad (Yale University Press, 2006), Negotiating Under Fire: Preserving Peace Talks in the Face of Terror Attacks (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), and Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God (Georgetown University Press, 2013).