Hezbollah supporters in Beirut 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Could it be that the European Union is finally on its way to recognizing
Hezbollah as a terrorist organization? That appeared to be the message coming
from an Austrian diplomat who spoke with The Jerusalem Post’s European
correspondent Benjamin Weinthal over the weekend.
Europeans have yet to do so. All we can say is, “Better late than
Already in 1995, well before 9/11 attacks revealed the murderous
potential of radical Islamist groups, the US classified Hezbollah as a terrorist
organization. That decision followed shortly after the July 1994 bombing of the
AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that left 85 dead and more than 300
wounded. Hezbollah is suspected of working in coordination with Iran to carry
out that attack.
This past July, Hezbollah marked the 18th anniversary of
the AMIA massacre by carrying out a suicide bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria. The
explosion killed five Israelis as well as their Bulgarian bus driver and wounded
In the time between the AMIA and Burgas attacks, Hezbollah
has been involved in numerous acts of terrorism both at home in Lebanon – the
2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri comes to mind – and
In August of this year, the US sanctioned Hezbollah for
supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. David Cohen, the United
States Department of Treasury’s under secretary for Terrorism and financial
intelligence, told Al- Arabiya television that the latest action was “designed
principally to expose the activity of Hezbollah in providing operational,
logistical, and other sorts of support to the Syrian government in its
repression of the Syrian people.”
A more thorough account of Hezbollah’s
terrorist activities since its foundation in 1982 can be found in a 42-page
paper titled “Timeline of Terror: A Concise History of Hezbollah Atrocities”
produced by the British Henry Jackson Society, one of several pro-democracy
think tanks and organizations lobbying the EU to ban Hezbollah.
besides the Netherlands, which recognized Hezbollah as a terrorist organization
a few years ago, and Britain, which since 2001 makes a distinction between
Hezbollah’s political wing – which the UK does not consider a terrorist
organization – and its military wing – which the UK does consider terrorist – no
other European country has followed the US’s – and Canada’s – lead.
result, Hezbollah is free to operate in Europe raising money, recruiting
supporters and plotting terrorist attacks.
Of all places, it is Germany
that has become a center for Hezbollah’s rabidly anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist
activities, with 950 members and supporters last year, up from 900 in 2010,
according to an annual report put out by Germany’s domestic intelligence
In August 2009, for instance, Alexander Ritzmann, a senior fellow
at the Brussels-based European Foundation for Democracy, found that a German
charity for Lebanese orphans was really a front organization raising money for
Hezbollah suicide bombers. Dozens of other similar “charities” continue to
operate freely on European soil.
And in many cases donations to these
charities are tax deductible, which means Germany and other European states are
subsidizing a terrorist organization.
Ritzmann and others also suspect
that the Hezbollah maintains trained military operatives throughout Europe who
act as “sleeper cells” that can become active when called upon.
European blacklist would undoubtedly have an adverse effect on Hezbollah. Sheikh
Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, admitted that such a ban “would dry up the
sources of finance” and “end moral, political and material support” for the
In contrast, refraining from issuing such a ban
would allow the Hezbollah to continue to operate freely on European soil. Just
last month, White House counter-terrorism chief John O. Brennan said that
European failure to join the US in designating Hezbollah a terrorist
organization is undermining international counter-terrorism efforts. “Let me be
clear,” Brennan said in a speech in Dublin, European resistance “makes it harder
to defend our countries and protect our citizens.”
Its about time Europe
takes seriously the threat that Hezbollah represents.