As the European Union grapples with a ban of the Lebanese Shi’ite organization
Hezbollah within its territory, reports emerged last week of foiled Iranian and
Hezbollah terror and criminal plots against targets spanning Bulgaria, Nepal,
Canada and the US.
Will the mushrooming patchwork of global terrorism
push the EU to include Hezbollah in its terror list? An EU designation could
deal a one-two punch to the Lebanese group and its chief proxy Iran.
week, Canadian police officials charged Tunisian Chiheb Esseghaier and
Palestinian Raed Jaser with planning an “al-Qaida-supported” attack on a
passenger train from Toronto to New York City. The Royal Canadian Mounted
Police’s assistant commissioner James Malizia accused the two men of securing
“direction and guidance” from al-Qaida elements in Iran.
the director of policy for Canada at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies,
spoke to The Jerusalem Post
on Friday. “Importantly, Canada also listed
Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah as a terrorist organization over a decade ago, at
the same time as it did al-Qaida,” she said.
[Revolutionary Guards]-Hezbollah trifecta is widely recognized by the
intelligence and security establishment as being responsible for horrific
terrorist attacks throughout the world. Canada understands this. The EU should,
too,” Saperia continued.
Reports in Canada’s National Post
– confirmed through multiple sources – state that Bulgarian
police authorities arrested an Iranian woman, in possession of a Canadian
passport, who scouted the Chabad center in Sofia. The Iranian woman’s
surveillance mission in July 2012 came on the heels of a July terror attack
resulting in two alleged Hezbollah operatives blowing up an Israeli tour bus in
the Black Sea resort of Burgas in Bulgaria.
US and Israeli intelligence
officials initially attributed the Burgas attack, which killed five Israelis and
their Bulgarian bus driver, to a joint Hezbollah-Iran operation. Europol’s (the
European Police Office’s) 2012 counter-terrorism report noted on Friday that
“indications suggest possible links” between Hezbollah and the Burgas
There are hints that Germany’s Interior Minister Hans- Peter
Friedrich may recommend to Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle that Hezbollah’s
entire organization should be outlawed in Europe.
In an April telephone
interview with the Jerusalem Post
, a spokesman for Friedrich cited the 2003 EU
ban of Hamas as example of a possible final German position. The EU labeled
Hamas a terrorist organization in 2003 and did not split its organization into
military and political wings.
The spokesman was cautious and said the
interior minister has turned to his counterparts in Cyprus and Bulgaria to
secure additional evidence of Hezbollah terrorism.
“It depends on
Bulgaria and Cyprus” and “whether the evidence meets a ban of the full structure
[Hezbollah],” said the spokesman. He added that the evidence could also lead
Friedrich to recommend a partial ban of Hezbollah’s military wing or no
designation of the Lebanese organization.
A Cypriot criminal court
convicted last month a self-professed member of Hezbollah for plotting to murder
Israelis on the island. Writing on the online investigative-journalism
publication ProPublica, Sebastian Rotella cited a US counter-terrorism official
in his article: “How Hezbollah wages its secret war against
“Even before the Burgas attack, we were growing concerned about
what Hezbollah is doing around the world,” the US official said on
“They are plotting in a way we hadn’t seen since the
1990s.There is certainly a feeling that Iran and Hezbollah have ramped
up their networks.”
The disclosure last week about the Iranian woman
monitoring the Chabad center is one more element in Iran and Hezbollah’s overt
and covert war against Israeli and Jewish institutions across the globe. A
Nepali paper reported last week that a highly suspicious Iranian man was
detained by Israeli Embassy officials in Katmandu for surveillance of the
US and Canadian efforts to ratchet up the pressure
on Europe to evict Hezbollah from the 27-member EU body have been front and
center in the media and policy branches.
In a National Post
article in April, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, John Baird, wrote, “Since
it reared its ugly head in 1982, Hezbollah has become one of the most
technically advanced terrorist groups in the world. It is a grave threat to
security and stability in the Middle East and beyond. While Hezbollah hides
behind its social programs, it remains, in its heart and deeds, a terrorist
And in a clear message directed at Hezbollah’s use of criminal
enterprises mixed with fund-raising for terrorism in Europe, the Obama
administration sanctioned two Lebanese money-exchange houses for conducting
Hezbollah’s financial transactions related to illicit narcotics.The Wall
reported, “The alleged [drug-]trafficker, Ayman Joumaa, is a
joint Lebanese and Colombian national that the US charged with trafficking tens
of thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia to Europe, West Africa and
US, Dutch and Israeli counter-terrorism experts have long
criticized Europe for allowing Hezbollah wide latitude to raise money in Europe
for its terror operations and criminal enterprises.
France and Germany –
the main Continental European powers – have resisted US, Canadian, Dutch and
Israeli efforts to rescind their opposition to banning Hezbollah.
that a new string of Iranian and Hezbollah terror and criminal operations have
been exposed over the past week, the growing evidence might very well be a
tipping point to the hold-out EU countries.
Benjamin Weinthal is a European affairs correspondent for the
Jerusalem Post and a fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.