Hezbollah is a terror group. The West needs to wake up

...

Posted: Aug 17, 2018 1:32 PM
Updated: Aug 17, 2018 1:32 PM

Hezbollah's announcement of its impending "victory" in Syria may be a reaction against US sanctions against Iran, but the threat it poses is no less real.

Hezbollah remains one of the most capable terrorist organizations in the world, which intends to continue expanding its reach. The international community needs to take a unified step to proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety and curtail its global crime and terror network before it is too late.

Continents and regions

Embargoes and sanctions

Europe

Hassan Nasrallah

Hezbollah

International relations

International relations and national security

Iran

Iran nuclear development

Lebanon

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Military

Misc people

National security

North America

Northern Europe

Syria

Terrorism

Terrorism and counter-terrorism

The Americas

United Kingdom

United States

Unrest, conflicts and war

Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, on Tuesday announced that it would "very soon" celebrate victory in Syria, where the Iran-backed group's militia are fighting alongside pro-Assad forces.

The announcement came days after the US imposed new sanctions on Iran, following US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.

The mounting political and financial pressure on Iran's already struggling economy from renewed sanctions will no doubt have an impact on Hezbollah's activities. And Nasrallah's latest message shows that Hezbollah is gearing up for a fight.

Even in the days before the sanctions were announced, Hezbollah -- in a show of force -- published a picture of a squadron of its drones on its al-Ahed news site to highlight its continuing "message of resistance". Given Hezbollah's history of deadly attacks and military success, these are unlikely to be empty threats or mere posturing.

Hezbollah, which emerged amid the Lebanese Civil War, embraces the principles of Iran's Islamist ideology. The group sees armed struggle not only as justified, but as a sacred imperative and has implemented this vision with devastating success, from the 1983 bombing of US Marine barracks in Beirut to a 2012 attack on a bus in Burgas, Bulgaria.

Much of its violence has targeted Jewish communities, including the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Argentina, which killed 85 people. Today, Hezbollah acts as a proxy for Iran in Syria, where it has its largest deployment outside of Lebanon (between 7,000 to 10,000 fighters), challenging US and Israeli strategic regional interests.

Iran is estimated to fund Hezbollah by up to $200 million a year and financial pressures on Iran from the sanctions is likely to make Hezbollah ramp up its international funding activities.

This mainly involves arms and tobacco smuggling, and narcotics trafficking from South America to and via Europe, bringing the threat out from the Syrian theater of conflict and into the international stage.

A global network of shell corporations, criminal enterprises such as drug trafficking and phantom charities worth more than $1 billion a year also finances Hezbollah's global terrorist activities.

And this network is increasingly extending to Europe; a recent undercover US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) investigation identified a UK-based Hezbollah associate who was carrying out money laundering as part of the group's international drug trafficking network.

Yet, despite this rap sheet of criminal and terror activities, no EU member state apart from the Netherlands currently proscribes Hezbollah in its entirety. Instead, these countries separate between the group's so-called "military" and "political" wings, banning the former but not the latter.

The decision to only partially proscribe Hezbollah no doubt reflects the complex nature of the organization. Hezbollah has a strong political presence in Lebanon, where the group and its allies hold more than half of parliamentary seats. And although not officially "in power," the group and its allies hold a substantial grip over ministries and state institutions under the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, while also providing social welfare as a means of gaining support.

But seeing the group's political and terror activities as distinct from one another is a mistake. Even its leader Nasrallah has implied there is little distinction between the two "wings" and its deputy leader Naim Qassem has stated "we don't have a military wing and a political one". As Daniel Byman, a Professor at Georgetown, puts it: "Hezbollah's social welfare organizations feed recruits to its military, and it uses its political power in Lebanon to shield itself from international pressure to disarm...the group's political and military leadership is unified and should be considered part of one cohesive organization".

This false distinction has enabled supporters and funders of Hezbollah to coalesce openly across Europe. In the UK, protesters at the annual "anti-Zionist" Al Quds Day march openly fly Hezbollah flags bearing the group's trademark machine gun emblem in the largest demonstration of its kind in Europe. As the group faces increasing financial pressures, it will look to draw on its international support base and expand its illicit activities globally to fund its campaigns of violence in Syria and the wider Middle East.

In the UK, policymakers from across the major parties have recognized this and have called for a change in UK law.

British Labour Party Member of Parliament Joan Ryan and Conservative Party Member of Parliament Tom Tugendhat have been among those calling for the group's full proscription, including during a parliamentary debate on the issue earlier this year that received cross-party support.

EU governments have no doubt worried that full proscription of the group would hinder political and diplomatic engagement with Lebanon. However, the United States, Canada and the Netherlands have banned Hezbollah in full, and continue to maintain full diplomatic relations with Lebanon. The UK should follow their lead and encourage our international partners, including in the EU, to follow suit. It is time to ban Hezbollah in its entirety.

Huntsville
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 68°
Florence
Overcast
71° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 71°
Fayetteville
Broken Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 66°
Decatur
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 66°
Scottsboro
Few Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 66°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 131988

Reported Deaths: 2304
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19123337
Mobile13122290
Montgomery8688173
Madison763075
Tuscaloosa7323114
Lee575159
Shelby571950
Baldwin508749
Marshall387943
Calhoun337439
Etowah336547
Morgan321426
Houston272722
Elmore255847
DeKalb237119
St. Clair224335
Walker224380
Talladega207726
Limestone200119
Cullman186218
Dallas174926
Franklin174528
Russell17312
Autauga169124
Lauderdale165333
Colbert160926
Escambia156425
Blount156014
Jackson151611
Chilton150227
Dale133343
Covington131127
Coffee12838
Pike11619
Tallapoosa113683
Chambers113242
Clarke105517
Marion94828
Butler91138
Barbour8387
Winston71612
Marengo70119
Lowndes64927
Pickens63814
Bibb63610
Randolph62212
Hale61528
Lawrence59220
Bullock59114
Geneva5814
Monroe5768
Cherokee56916
Clay5527
Washington54913
Perry5386
Wilcox53111
Conecuh52411
Crenshaw52331
Macon47820
Henry4754
Fayette4269
Sumter41819
Lamar3532
Choctaw34512
Cleburne3326
Greene30015
Coosa1653
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 184409

Reported Deaths: 2233
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby30155447
Davidson26017293
Hamilton914489
Rutherford903187
Knox899872
Williamson508936
Sumner470593
Wilson337343
Putnam307037
Out of TN301324
Montgomery296243
Unassigned28916
Bradley285816
Madison270156
Sevier251813
Blount244023
Maury226023
Washington217933
Robertson217233
Sullivan205431
Hamblen183825
Tipton173917
Trousdale16517
Gibson153819
Hardeman153225
Wayne14805
Bedford130916
Dyer127912
Dickson119913
Cumberland115317
Fayette114318
Anderson113311
Henderson113119
Carter112627
Weakley111819
Loudon11156
Coffee110812
Greene110737
Obion10889
McMinn106824
Jefferson106614
Macon102020
Warren10127
Monroe100116
Lawrence97011
Hardin96714
Lauderdale93615
Haywood92116
Lake9152
Franklin9137
Bledsoe8454
Roane8414
Carroll83217
McNairy81016
Cheatham79010
White7849
Rhea78111
Hawkins77016
Cocke7349
Marshall7175
Overton6805
Smith67810
Johnson6482
Henry6029
Chester5919
Lincoln5791
Giles56817
DeKalb54611
Hickman5385
Crockett51319
Marion5007
Decatur4786
Fentress4363
Claiborne4304
Campbell4193
Polk37811
Grainger3503
Union3371
Benton3329
Jackson3055
Morgan3053
Unicoi2801
Cannon2760
Grundy2495
Humphreys2323
Sequatchie2233
Meigs2213
Clay2105
Scott2002
Houston1860
Lewis1771
Stewart1752
Moore1541
Van Buren1530
Perry1460
Hancock1063
Pickett982

Community Events