WASHINGTON/BERLIN – The White House’s senior terrorism adviser slammed the
European Union on Friday for not designating Hezbollah as a terrorist
organization, saying that the omission made it harder to combat the Lebanese
John Brennan, US President Barack Obama’s assistant
for counter-terrorism, urged the EU and its member countries to designate
Hezbollah as a terrorist entity. He noted that Ireland, where he was delivering
his remarks, was among those countries that had not yet done so.
to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization makes it harder to defend our
countries and protect our citizens,” Brennan declared, saying it complicates law
enforcement efforts because of the problems invoking terror charges against
“We call upon our European allies and partners –
including the EU – to join us, not only in recognizing Hezbollah’s terrorist and
criminal activities, but in condemning and disrupting those activities,” Brennan
He added that, like the US, European countries must hold Iran and
Syria accountable for their sponsorship of Hezbollah.
Brennan said that
without greater international recognition and action against Hezbollah’s
terrorism, “the group will continue to operate with impunity and it will be able
to raise funds that enable its terrorist activity.”
He called on the
international community to assume a “more proactive posture” against Hezbollah
and to work with the United States to uncover its infrastructure and disrupt its
Brennan pointed to some positive steps taken by European
countries, notably the UK’s designation of Hezbollah’s military wing as a
terrorist entity, as well as efforts many other states have taken to derail
Hezbollah’s criminal activity, which is used to finance its
But, he stressed, “this is simply not enough.”
week in Brussels, Dr. Matthew Levitt, a top authority on Hezbollah’s
global operations, urged key officials and diplomats to place Hezbollah on the
European Union’s list of terrorist organizations.
Levitt, a senior fellow
and director of the Stein Program on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence at the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday
that “the time has never been as good as now” to outlaw Hezbollah, largely
recognized as a proxy for Iran, because the terrorist group is “undermining
security in Lebanon and Syria.”
In the telephone interview, he stressed
evidence of Hezbollah’s current activity in the EU, including the “standing
trial of a European Hezbollah guy in Cyprus” who holds a Swedish
In early July, the Cypriot authorities arrested in Limassol
port a man of Lebanese descent who possessed a Swedish passport and was tracking
the movements of Israeli tourists on the island. Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu attributed at the time the foiled attack to a joint Iran-Hezbollah
In the same month, a suicide bomber, widely believed by Israel
and American intelligence officials to be a Hezbollah operative, killed five
Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver in an attack on a bus full of Israeli
tourists in the Bulgarian seaside resort town of Burgas .
intelligence officials documented increased telephone activity between Lebanon
and Bulgaria shortly before the terrorism attack in Burgas.
the interplay between Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps
(IRGC), Levitt told the Post that “Hezbollah and al-Quds are in bed together”
and are mounting “a shadow war against Israel and the West.” The al-Quds force
of the IRGC is an elite unit designed to spread Tehran’s Islamic philosophy and
launch terror operations abroad. Levitt stated that “there is now an opportunity
and some Europeans are saying, ‘Let’s do this’” in regards to designating
Hezbollah as a terror group.
Levitt cited the growth of anti-Hezbollah
sentiment over the years within the EU, including the Netherlands’s labeling of
Hezbollah as a terror entity and the United Kingdom’s ruling to outlaw
Hezbollah’s military wing.
He also said that the US Treasury Department
had enhanced its pressure in September by imposing financial sanctions against
the head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, for providing support to Syrian
President Bashar Assad.
Levitt stated that there comes a point where it
is necessary to take a “principled position” and rhetorically asked what else
Hezbollah would have to do in order for it to be recognized as a terrorist
Hezbollah, which was founded in 1982, is also widely
believed to be behind a number of bombings in Lebanon in the 1980s, including
the attacks against the US Embassy and its military barracks in 1983, which
resulted in the murder of 258 Americans and 58 French paratroopers. It also
launched attacks in France and Argentina, including the bombing at Buenos
Aires’s Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building that killed 85
people in 1994.