The US Congress has approved a resolution sponsored by Democratic Florida Rep. Ted Deutsch “urging the European Union to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.”
H.Res. 558 is aimed at stopping Hezbollah’s fundraising efforts, used to finance its terror activities. “This resolution applauds and expresses support for the continued cooperation between the United States and the European Union in thwarting Hezbollah’s terrorist activities. It also urges the European Union to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization,” the resolution summary explains.
Hezbollah is suspected of “trafficking diamonds and drugs, and money laundering via trade-in second-hand cars,” according to the June 2020 European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report by Europol.
Deutsch said in a statement, “Hezbollah is a proxy for Iran. It’s time for the [European Union] to join the US, Germany, Argentina, the Arab League and others in saying. . . that it is one, a unified terrorist organization.”
The Congressmember noted that Hezbollah’s military wing cannot be separated from its political wing. He urged the EU to stop Hezbollah’s political wing from operating freely in some of its member states and to join the US in targeting the terror group and its global criminal networks.
Last week’s Congressional vote was quickly followed by a similar resolution in the Senate.
Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) likewise introduced the legislation in the Senate, listing all the international crimes committed against US citizens since April 1983, when the group attacked a US Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people.
“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,” Rosen said.
“I look forward to future inter-parliamentary cooperation to counter Hezbollah. I applaud the growing number of European countries that treat Hezbollah as one entity, recognizing that there is no distinction between its political and military wings,” Rosen added.
“Hezbollah is a brutal terrorist organization notorious for operating throughout the Middle East,” Blackburn said, but noted the terror group “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,” Blackburn urged.
American Jewish Committee (AJC) deputy director of policy and diplomatic affairs Julie Rayman pointed out that the EU labeling of Hezbollah’s military wing as a terror group was an incomplete action.
“There are no separate military and political arms,” she said. “Hezbollah is one organization.” Rayman said the Congressional resolution was “incredibly powerful.”
Hezbollah uses Europe as a launching pad for its criminal and terrorist activities, including money laundering, drug smuggling, recruitment, and training. Currently, the EU only includes Hezbollah’s military wing – and not its political wing – on its list of sanctioned terrorist organizations. The US makes no distinction between its branches and includes Hezbollah in its entirety on the US Foreign Terrorist Organization list.