Time for the EU to ban Hizbollah
US and Israeli intelligence agencies attributed last month’s suicide bombing of a bus full of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria to Hizbollah and Iran. The joint Hizbollah-Iran operation resulted in the murders of Mustafa Kyosev, the Muslim Bulgarian bus driver, and five Israelis tourists.
Hizbollah is one of the world’s leading terror groups and, two weeks ago, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman urged the EU at a Brussels meeting to place the group on its terror list. But the EU refused to outlaw either Hizbollah or its patron, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, whose country now holds the presidency of the 26-member EU, claimed there is “no tangible evidence of Hizbollah engaging in acts of terrorism”, and praised Hizbollah’s social welfare work.
Ms Kozakou-Marcoullis ignored the EU’s own proof of Hizbollah terrorism. The EU Parliament passed a resolution in 2005 that it “considers that clear evidence exists of terrorist activities on the part of Hizbollah and that the Council should take all necessary steps to curtail them”.
Hizbollah (“Party of God”) was founded in 1982, and its ideology is rooted in the obliteration of Israel and violent resistance against the West. In 1983, it killed 299 French and US troops in the bombing of a barracks in Beirut.
Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman declared: “I have no doubt that the most senior Iranian leadership, with the help of Hizbollah, is responsible for the attacks in Buenos Aires.” The attacks on the Amia Jewish community centre in 1994, and the Israeli Embassy in 1992, left 104 people dead.
In 2009, the UK made a distinction without a difference by banning the military wing of Hizbollah but legally recognising the political wing. Since 2001, the US has classified it as a terrorist organisation.
Meanwhile, Hizbollah has a potent European operation, with over 900 active members in Germany, according to a recent intelligence report.
Jacob Campbell, a research fellow at the UK Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy, produced a report in June on how the EU “helps Hizbollah”. He revealed that the EU funds Lebanese schools to the tune of 3.8 million euros, cash which helps pay for a curriculum promoting a “culture of resistance”. That is Hizbollah code for anti-Israel and anti-Western violence.
In late 2009, the Dutch parliament passed a cross-party resolution that the EU ban the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard because it helps Hamas and Hizbollah in their terror activities. Wim Kortenoeven, an independent deputy in Holland’s parliament, said that the Dutch government considers “Hizbollah a terrorist organisation in its totality and there is no difference between the military and political wings.” Mr Kortenoeven added that the French are blocking the effort to ban Hizbollah. “There is not enough activism of member states to force the French to ban Hizbollah,” he said, and singled out Germany as the key EU state that has remained passive on this issue.
Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies