EU: Considering putting Hezbollah on terror list

Hezbollah's involvement in Syria is pushing European officials to seriously consider adding Hezbollah to it's terrorism list.

Bulgaria bus bomb 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Bulgaria bus bomb 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria might be the last straw that pushes the European Union to put the group on its terrorism list, European diplomatic sources told the London-based daily Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday.
A recent speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s and possible evidence from last July’s bombing of Israelis in Bulgaria were cited as reasons contributing to the possible move by the EU, the report said.
The Europeans are considering three options – First, to sanction individuals from the organization by stopping their funds and not allowing them to enter the EU. Second, banning the military wing of the organization as it does with Hamas and third, which is the option favored by the United States and Israel, putting the entire organization on the terror list.
The sources said that the issue would be on the agenda in the next meeting of the EU foreign ministers that will deal with arming the Syrian opposition, which they want to settle by the end of the month.
According to the sources, it “would be difficult” to continue defending the reasoning that Hezbollah is a political entity that contributes to stability when it is involved in the fighting in Syria and threatening to increase its involvement.
The results from the Burgas suicide bombing – in which five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian were killed – are supposed to prove Hezbollah’s involvement but have not been provided yet. They could push the 27 member-states of the EU to vote unanimously to list the organization on its terror list.
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The report also said that if the evidence from the Burgas bombing and recent terror plots in Cyprus is convincing, it could even sway France, which has been reluctant to add Hezbollah to the list.
The most likely move for a reluctant EU would seem to be option one or two, as many European governments try to envision that the military wing of the organization is separate from the political wing.
Matthew Levitt, a senior fellow and director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Stein Program on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence, and the former deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the US Department of the Treasury, demonstrates in his research that Hezbollah, like Hamas, are fully coordinated organizations, where the political and military wings are not separate, but intertwined.
In his book, Terrorism Financing and State Responses: a Comparative Perspective, the chapter titled “Hezbollah Finances: Funding the Party of God” shows that funds for its political and social branches also serve the military wing.
“Hezbollah funds are spent primarily on furthering the group’s overall agenda of establishing a Shia entity in Lebanon and radicalizing Muslims against the West,” Levitt wrote.
“To that end, the majority of its funds finance social welfare and political activities that finance terror in a more indirect fashion [e.g., by freeing funds for other purposes, radicalizing and spotting future recruits, serving as a financial and logistical support network for the group’s clandestine guerrilla and terrorist activities].”
Furthermore, Levitt notes that the group supports the families of killed or captured fighters as well as finding jobs for its members in the group’s social welfare network and political organization.