Intel: Congress pushes European Union to fully designate Hezbollah as terrorist group

al-monitor German special police carry a box from the premises of the El-Irschad center in Berlin on April 30, 2020, after Germany banned Iran-backed Hezbollah from German soil and designated the group a terrorist organization. Photo by REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke.

Jun 26, 2020

A bipartisan group of 30 US lawmakers sent a blanket letter to all European Union member states Thursday asking them to designate the entirety of Lebanon’s militia-cum-political party Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

“Unfortunately, Hezbollah has increasingly used Europe as a launching pad for its criminal and terrorist activities, including money laundering, drug smuggling, recruitment and training,” the lawmakers wrote. “In particular, Hezbollah’s fundraising and illicit business activities have generated additional annual revenue which the organization uses to support its global terrorism, including a 2012 Hezbollah terror attack in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian citizen.”

The letter, signed by prominent pro-Israel lawmakers in both chambers, was spearheaded by Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Jackie Rosen, D-Nev., as well as House Middle East panel Chairman Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y.

Why it matters: Although the European Union distinguishes between Hezbollah’s political and military wings, some of its member states have moved closer to the US position in recent months, which makes no such delineation. (Hezbollah itself makes no distinction between its political and paramilitary wings.)

The lawmakers commended Germany’s April “designation of Iranian-backed Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and the nation’s associated ban of all Hezbollah activity.” The United Kingdom designated all of Hezbollah as a terrorist group in January.

What’s next: The lawmakers also acknowledged “Austria’s efforts with regard to a similar proposed resolution and encourage its passage in the coming months.”

Know more: Rina Bassist examines the Austrian parliament’s legislation to designate all of Hezbollah as a terrorist group, even as Vienna pushes back against Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

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