BERLIN – US acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell has conveyed to France’s government the pressing need to outlaw the Lebanese terrorist movement Hezbollah.
“Grenell, in his capacity as acting director of national intelligence, spoke with Emmanuel Bonne, the foreign policy adviser to the president of France, to press him on banning Hezbollah in France and working to support an EU-wide ban,” Fox News reported on Thursday.
“The American official has visited Brussels several times to push for an EU-wide ban,” the report said. “Grenell also organized the entire embassy around working to ban Hezbollah. His team met weekly to strategize and use the latest intelligence to push for the ban in Germany.”
Germany’s government banned all Hezbollah activities within its borders on Thursday and classified Hezbollah a “terrorist movement.”
France, Austria and the EU have banned Hezbollah’s “military wing” and allow the Shi’ite organization’s “political wing” to operate.
The UK, the US, the Netherlands, Japan, the Arab League, Canada, Israel and a number of Latin America countries have designated Hezbollah’s entire organization a terrorist entity. Hezbollah’s leaders have declared their movement is a monolithic organization without divisions.
“The world is a little bit safer with this German government ban of Hezbollah,” Grenell, who is also the ambassador to Germany, told Fox News. “The entire US Embassy in Berlin has worked with the German government and the Bundestag for two years to push for this ban. It’s an incredible diplomatic success that we hope will motivate many officials in Brussels to follow suit with an EU-wide ban.”
Meanwhile, in Austria, the NGO Stop the Bomb, which seeks to end Iranian regime-sponsored terrorism and its nuclear-weapons and missile programs, urged Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s government to ban Hezbollah.
Austria’s government should “entirely ban the antisemitic terrorist organization” Hezbollah, Stop the Bomb said.
“If the ÖVP and the Greens are serious about their statements to combat Islamism, a ban on the entire Hezbollah in Austria would be a mandatory step,” Stop the Bomb academic director Stephan Grigat said.
The ÖVP is an abbreviation for Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party. The ÖVP formed a coalition government with the Austrian Green Party.
Ulrike Becker, a spokeswoman for Stop the Bomb in Germany, said: “We welcome the ban on Hezbollah. The organization threatens Israel, and there is the danger of terrorist attacks in Germany. But these dangers can only be averted if the Iranian regime behind Hezbollah is also pushed back. The federal government should change its course here and immediately stop supporting the financiers of Hezbollah – the Iranian regime via INSTEX.”
Germany, France and the UK set up the financial mechanism INSTEX to circumvent US sanctions. The US government imposed sanctions on Iran’s clerical regime for its malign activities.
“There can only be economic cooperation with a free Iran, for which the well-being of the people is more important than violent expansion in the region,” Becker said.