Moral clarity is always important, but this is especially so during times of crisis – it is at such times that we most need to call things what they are.
In the coming days, the European Union is slated to decide whether to list Hezbollah as a terror organization, as the United States and several other countries have previously done.
It is absolutely critical that they do so.
Several countries in the 27-member bloc are reported to be vacillating over a compromise proposal put forward by Britain, France and Germany whereby the “military wing” of Hezbollah would be listed as a terror group.
Although this is an artificial distinction – there is no “good part” of Hezbollah – such a move could be a critical step forward in choking off vital European funding for Hezbollah throughout Europe. Our friends and allies in Europe need to step forward and join with us since such a decision requires unanimity among all 27 member nations.
Long known as the “A-team of international terrorism” among intelligence officials, Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shi’ite organization which means “Party of God,” is responsible for the single largest number of American casualties of any foreign terror organization after al-Qaida, having killed hundreds of US Marines in Lebanon back in the 1980s.
More recently, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah has been behind a series of attacks against Western targets around the world, including diplomatic postings and a foiled plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, according to intelligence officials.
Their attacks have also reached European soil. Hezbollah operatives have been implicated in a bus bombing in Bulgaria last year that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian driver. Earlier this year, a court in Cyprus found a Hezbollah member guilty of participating in a plot to attack Israeli tourist there.
And, last month, Hezbollah’s brazen decision to get involved in the war in Syria stoked sectarian tensions, and turned the tide of war back in favor of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The addition of thousands of elite Hezbollah troops led to the victory in the strategic town of Qusair near the Lebanese border. Syrian rebels have taken to calling the “Party of God” the “Party of the Devil.”
Incredibly, despite their record of attacks worldwide, spanning both countries and continents, thousands of Hezbollah members and supporters continue to operate with few restrictions in Europe, raising money that is funneled to the group’s leadership in Lebanon, due to EU’s failure to act.
Even the Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has conceded that a European blacklist would “dry up the sources of finance,” and “end moral, political and material support.”
It is time to stop this charade. It is time to turn off the tap on Hezbollah funding in Europe. Inaction will only lead to more terrorism.
The author, a Member of Congress from Colorado, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional Israel Allies Caucus.