UK think tank takes EU to task on Hezbollah stance

Whereas the United States, Canada and Holland recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist group, the EU does not.

Hezbollah’s Martyrs’ Day in south Beirut (photo credit: Sharif Karim/Reuters)
Hezbollah’s Martyrs’ Day in south Beirut
(photo credit: Sharif Karim/Reuters)
LONDON – A prominent British think tank has launched a campaign calling on the EU to proscribe Hezbollah in an effort to sever its funding base in Europe and thwart its influence in the Middle East.
The Henry Jackson Society wants the EU and the UK to formally outlaw Hezbollah in its entirety – in line with the US, Canada and the Netherlands – and recognize it as “a terrorist organization that consistently uses violent terrorist tactics.”
“It is time that this disgraceful anomaly was rectified. Not only because it is wrong, but because the current situation allows and encourages Hezbollah to recruit and fundraise in Europe,” the London- based think tank said.
The European Union refuses to put Hezbollah on its list – which includes Hamas – of designated terrorist groups.
As Hezbollah participates in the political process in Lebanon, the EU makes a distinction between the group’s political and military wings.
The UK blacklisted Hezbollah’s paramilitary External Security Organization in 2001, but refuses to follow suit with its political wing.
“It is spurious to make the distinction between the group’s military and political wings. There is no distinction, it has been falsely concocted.
Hezbollah does not see it. Lebanon, which Hezbollah has done so much to destroy, does not see it.
America does not see it. Only the EU sees [that there are two separate wings to Hezbollah],” Douglas Murray, the Henry Jackson Society’s associate director, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday.
As part of the campaign, the society has produced a briefing paper titled “Timeline of Terror: A Concise History of Hezbollah Atrocities,” in which it documents the terrorist attacks and atrocities perpetrated by the group since its formation in 1982.
“The publication aims to serve as a reminder of what Hezbollah has done. But it is also intended to serve as a resource for European citizens,” the think tank said.
The 44-page publication also gives an insight into the terrorist group’s ideology, command structure, funding and tactics.
“It is becoming increasingly important to note Hezbollah’s influence in the region and raise the question as to why the UK and EU have thus far failed to proscribe the organization in its entirety,” the think tank states in a letter it sent out with the publication.
“The case for designating Hezbollah is overwhelming.
We need political leadership on the issue. But that will only come about if European citizens who abhor terrorism – and who have suffered so many times from it – make their voices heard,” it added.
Murray told the Post that the campaign is set to expand in the coming weeks and months.
“Our aim is to persuade leaders in the UK and EU to ban Hezbollah. They must not continue to allow this terrorist movement to operate here.
“Either we are against genocidal terrorist groups or we are not. It is no good hiding – as some European politicians do – behind the pretense that there is no evidence that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.
They are, they always have been, they remain so, and we should stop them,” he said.
With Europe a key territory for the terrorist organization, the think tank points out that the group’s leaders are deeply concerned about the impact of any possible ban it might receive from the EU.
The group’s secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah has said that being blacklisted would “destroy” the organization because “the sources of our funding will dry up and the sources of moral, political and material support will be destroyed.”
After the July terrorist attack that killed five Israelis tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver was blamed on the organization, the issue came under the spotlight at the EU again.
Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal raised the issue at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Cyprus last month.
“We have for quite some time now argued that effective European measures should be taken against Hezbollah,” Rosenthal told The Wall Street Journal last month.
“The fact that the US has taken new sanctions due to Hezbollah’s support for the Assad regime is a new reason and opportunity to return to this issue, and I will do so...when I meet my European partners today,” he added.
However the Journal said that French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius signaled that his country was not ready to ban the group.
“An organization can be placed on the terrorist list only when there is a legal case against them, which is not currently the case,” Fabius told the Journal.