Hezbollah weapons stockpiles and large amounts of ammonium nitrate have been discovered across the EU, US State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales said Thursday.
"Why would Hezbollah stockpile ammonium nitrate on European soil? The answer is clear," Sales said at a conference hosted by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), a pro-Israel Jewish advocacy group on the subject of banning Hezbollah.
With the stockpiles, Hezbollah "can conduct major terror attacks whenever its masters in Tehran deem it necessary," the official said.
"It's not what you would expect from a political organization, but it's exactly what you would expect from a terrorist group."
According to Sales, Hezbollah's stockpiles "have been moved through Belgium to France, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland. I can also reveal that significant ammonium nitrate caches have been discovered or destroyed in France, Greece, and Italy."
More from Amb. Sales: "I can reveal that such [Hezbollah weapons] caches have been moved through Belgium to France, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland. I can also reveal that significant ammonium nitrate caches have been discovered or destroyed in France, Greece, and Italy."— American Jewish Committee (@AJCGlobal) September 17, 2020
Ammonium nitrate, a high-nitrogen fertilizer, is a chemical compound often used for explosives. A large stockpile of ammonium nitrate is believed to be the cause of the deadly blast in the Beirut Port several months ago.
"We have reason to believe that this activity is still underway. As of 2018, ammonium nitrate caches were still suspected within Europe, possibly in Greece, Italy, and Spain," Sales told the AJC.
Hezbollah "represents a clear and present danger to the US today. Hezbollah represents a clear and present danger to Europe today," he added.
"The bottom line is that the EU's approach since 2013 simply hasn't worked. The limited designation of Hezbollah's so-called military wing hasn't dissuaded the group from preparing for terrorist attacks across the continent."
Hezbollah "continues to see Europe as a vital platform for its operational, logistical, and fundraising activities. And it will continue to do so until Europe takes decisive action, as the UK and Germany have both done."
Tensions have been high since Hezbollah operative Ali Kamel Mohsen was assassinated in Damascus in late July. Hezbollah vowed to respond to the strike it claimed was carried out by Israel, with the response being delayed due to the Beirut blast August 4.
Several weeks ago, an incident took place on the Israeli-Lebanese border after snipers shot at an IDF post near Kibbutz Manara in the Galilee panhandle, according to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit. No casualties were reported.
According to the IDF, the snipers shot from an area located between two UN posts on the Lebanese side of the border. Following the fire, the IDF launched shells and missiles in the area of the Lebanese villages of Houla and Mayise e-Jabal.
The Lebanese army said on its Twitter page that Israeli helicopters targeted centers belonging to Green Without Borders, an NGO Israel claims to be affiliated with Hezbollah.
Residents of Houla claimed phosphorous shells have been used in the strikes, posting images of fires and undetonated munition.
Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.