Hezbollah guide 'dies in Lebanon' The ayatollah was a strong critic of US policy in the Middle East Lebanon's leading Shia Muslim cleric, seen as a key figure in the founding of militant group Hezbollah, has died aged 74, hospital sources have said. Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah was regarded as Hezbollah's spiritual guide after the group was founded in 1982, a charge both denied. An implacable critic of the US, he had a wide following among Shias and backed the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. But he was known among Shias for his moderate social views, reports said. He held particularly progressive views on the role of women in Islamic society. Bombing attempt The ayatollah was admitted to hospital on Friday suffering from internal bleeding, reports said. There has been no official confirmation of his death from his own office but Hezbollah's TV station, al-Manar, interrupted its programming to broadcast his picture and recitations from the Koran. Born to Lebanese parents in the Shia holy city of Najaf, in Iraq, Fadlullah moved to Lebanon in 1966. He won followers both in his home country and in Lebanon, extending to Central Asia and the Gulf, Reuters reported. He became the religious mentor of Hezollah when it emerged as a Shia miliant group in 1982. His views chimed with the strident anti-Israeli tone of the new movement, bringing him to the attention both of the Lebanese public and of Western intelligence agencies. A 1985 car bombing in Beirut that killed some 80 people was widely thought to have been an attempt to assassinate the ayatollah. The bombing was alleged to have been the work of the CIA, possibly in conjunction with regional intelligence agencies friendly to the US. BBC News - Hezbollah guide 'dies in Lebanon'