“As Hezbollah faces financial pressure from U.S. sanctions, the organization increasingly relies on recruiting and fundraising networks in Europe to survive. Like it does around the world – from the Middle East to Latin America – Hezbollah has been engaging in illicit activities in Europe for years,” said Senator Rosen during a virtual briefing held earlier this week with Senator Blackburn, Member of the European Parliament Antonio Lopez-Isturiz from the European People’s Party (EPP) and Dr Hans-Jacob Schindler, a German counter-terrorism expert.
Two U.S. Senators, Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) have introduced on Thursday a bipartisan resolution urging the European Union to fully designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
The legislation seeks to encourage the EU to designate both its military and political wings as terrorist entities. Currently, the E.U. only includes Hezbollah’s military wing on its list of sanctioned terrorist organizations.
Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) have introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives over the summer.
The United States makes no distinction between its branches and includes Hezbollah in its entirety on the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization List.
Several individual EU member states also recognize the entire Hezbollah as a terror group, including Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Slovenia.
“As Hezbollah faces financial pressure from U.S. sanctions, the organization increasingly relies on recruiting and fundraising networks in Europe to survive. Like it does around the world – from the Middle East to Latin America – Hezbollah has been engaging in illicit activities in Europe for years,” said Senator Rosen during a virtual briefing held earlier this week with Senator Blackburn and Member of the European Parliament Antonio López-Istúriz from the European People’s Party (EPP), and Dr Hans-Jacob Schindler, a German counter-terrorism expert.
The briefing, moderated by the European Jewish Association, discussed the threat posed by Hezbollah and its malign activities in Europe and ways to deepen transatlantic cooperation to counter the terrorist organisation.
“Hezbollah is a brutal terrorist organization notorious for operating throughout the Middle East,” said Senator Blackburn. “However, it derives both financial support and political legitimacy from every region of the world. The European Union cannot enable terrorists by allowing them to participate in diplomacy. Each nation in the EU must follow Slovenia‘s lead and designate Hezbollah as the terrorists they have proven themselves to be.”
Slovenia currently holds the presidency of the EU Council of Ministers.
Spanish MEP Antonio López-Istúriz, who is a member of the influent parliament’s foreign affairs committee and chairs the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with Israel, noted the recent unprecedent resolution from the European Parliament on Hezbollah’s negative role in the crisis in Lebanon which he said ‘’was a step in the right direction,’’ adding however that decisive European leadership was needed.
“It is a political fiction to suggest that the political and military wings of Hezbollah are separate and disitinct entities. And yet this fiction persists. More and more member states are putting an end to it and designating the terror group as a single entity,’’ he said.
‘’If the European Institutions want to be taken seriously at a global level, they must lead from the front on this issue, end any political expediency and call out Hezbollah for what it is: a crimininal and terrorist organisation. Anything else lends it a shameful credibility, a credibility that insults the memory of its many victims in Burgas and around the world.” he added, in a reference tot the terror attack at Burgas airport, Bulgaria, that killed five Israeli tourists and their bus driver in 2012.
During the briefing, Hans Jacob Schindler cited examples of Hezbollah’s criminal activity in Europe, including money laundering, drug smuggling and recruiting for terrorist activities. He suggested a co-ordinated approach, where all European countries and the European institutional leadership spoke with one voice on designating the entirety of Hezbollah as a terror group. This, he saidn, would send a clear message that Europe is in no way a haven to terror groups.