Australia designates entirety of Hezbollah a terrorist organization

"The Iran-backed Shi'ite organization continues to carry out terrorist attacks, support terrorist organizations and pose a real threat to Australia."

 The Australian flag (Illustrative). (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Australian flag (Illustrative).
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Australia has declared the entirety of Hezbollah a terrorist organization, Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews announced on Wednesday.

Also designated a terrorist movement was the white supremacist neo-Nazi organization The Base.

Both groups, Andrews explained, pose real and credible threats to Australia.

“There is no place in Australia for their hateful ideologies,” she said in a statement. “We know that there are individuals actively watching what is happening in Australia. There are people here who have the intent and the capability to do us harm.”

Australia had previously only designated Hezbollah’s External Security Organization a terrorist organization in 2003. It is now the 17th country to label the entirety of the group as such, joining countries that include the US, UK, Israel, Canada and Germany.

WAVING THE Hezbollah flag in Marjayoun, Lebanon. (credit: AZIZ TAHER/REUTERS)WAVING THE Hezbollah flag in Marjayoun, Lebanon. (credit: AZIZ TAHER/REUTERS)

Andrews said that the Iran-backed Hezbollah threatens terrorist attacks and provides support to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas’s Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades.

“The government has zero tolerance for violence, and there is no cause – religious or ideological – that can justify killing innocent people,” Andrews said. “The Morrison government is committed to ensuring Australia has the right tools and legislation in place to combat the enduring threat of terrorism. As recent events in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and elsewhere around the world have demonstrated, we cannot be complacent.

“Australia is a nation of rich cultural backgrounds. Our community is built on a broad fabric of many and varied experiences and cultures, and our nation’s character is better off for it. The views of violent extremist groups such as these are a stain on that rich cultural fabric. There is no place in Australia for their hateful ideologies.”

The move was praised by shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus.

“Hezbollah is one organization, and that organization is a terrorist organization,” Dreyfus said, according to The Australian Jewish News. “No one in Australia should be assisting organizations that promote extremism and hate, and especially not one as dangerous as Hezbollah.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett welcomed the move.

I welcome Australia’s intent to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization in its entirety.Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed terror organization in Lebanon responsible for countless attacks in Israel & around the world.Thank you to my friend @ScottMorrisonMP for your leadership.

“Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed terror organization in Lebanon responsible for countless attacks in Israel and around the world,” he wrote on Twitter, thanking Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

During the UN climate change conference in Glasgow, known as COP26, Bennett had urged Morrison to label all of Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

“I thank the government of Australia for their decision,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted. “Australia is also a close friend of Israel in the fight against global terrorism,” adding that the Foreign Ministry is working on an international campaign to have Hezbollah declared a terrorist organization across the world.

אני מודה לממשלת אוסטרליה על ההחלטה הקובעת כי חזבאללה, על כל זרועותיו, הינו ארגון טרור. אוסטרליה היא ידידה קרובה של ישראל גם במאבק בטרור העולמי. משרד החוץ מוביל, בשת"פ צמוד עם קהיליית הביטחון הישראלית, קמפיין בינלאומי להכרזה על החזבאללה כארגון טרור.

— יאיר לפיד - Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) November 24, 2021

The Zionist Federation of Australia, one of the Australian Jewish organizations that submitted to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security review process, and had a representative appear as a witness in the public committee hearing, welcomed the government’s decision.

“This is a vitally important step,” said ZFA president Jeremy Leibler. “Hezbollah has targeted Jewish communities the world over. I thank the minister, and also the bipartisan Intelligence and Security Committee, which unanimously recommended this outcome.”

ZFA public affairs director Bren Carlill said “This important step aligns Australia’s position with its most important allies, and will help Australia assist its international partners in efforts to stop Hezbollah’s international terrorist and criminal activities.”

Toby Dershowitz, a senior vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, pointed out that “Saudi Arabia and Austria have either banned, designated or restricted all of Hezbollah as well. These 20-plus countries and regional organizations know that Iran-backed Hezbollah is a danger to their societies. Other countries ‘get it’ too, and will ultimately choose safety for their population over Hezbollah’s intimidation tactics. No one has witnessed Lebanese Hezbollah’s destructiveness more than the Lebanese people themselves.”

The Australian Home Affairs Department will need to provide a classified briefing on their decision to Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security within three months.

On October 14, 2021, Australia’s Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security recommended considering the entirety of Hamas a terrorist organization, whereas currently only Hamas’s so-called military wing is considered as such.

“The expert evidence provided to the committee overwhelmingly rejected the idea that Hamas’ Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades operates independently from the rest of the organization,” committee chairman Sen. James Paterson said at the time. “There was agreement that Hamas operates as a singular entity with overlapping personnel, finances and structure. In addition, leaders of Hamas have repeatedly made statements that meet the advocacy test for terrorist listing, including direct incitement of acts of violence against Jewish people.”

On November 20, the United Kingdom became the latest country to recognize all of Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.