As of this week, we may finally be seeing progress towards a scenario in which Hizballah’s free reign in Europe will be curtailed, with the welcome news that the UK has formally filed a request to the European Union for Hizballah’s ‘military wing’ to be proscribed on its terror list.
Last year alone, Hizballah was responsible for foiled attacks in Thailand, Kenya and Azerbaijan as well as attempted simultaneous attacks in India, Georgia and Bangkok on the following day. The real and present threat of Hizballah’s terror hit Europe on the 18th July – the 18th anniversary of the bomb attack on the AMIA Jewish community centre – when a successful bomb attack on a bus carrying Israeli tourists outside Burgas airport in Bulgaria, killed five Israelis and the Bulgarian bus driver. Furthermore, the arrest and subsequent prosecution of a terror operative of Hizballah in Cyrpus, paints a dramatic picture of an organisation that is continuing to plot to kill civilians on a global scale.
When the Bulgarian authorities released the findings of their official enquiry into the Burgas bus attack, it confirmed Israel and the United States’ suspicions, blaming the Iranian-backed group, Hizballah.
As well as running a well funded and organised international terror operation, Hizballah’s raison d’être is the destruction of the State of Israel, where it has directed much of its aggression, including the abduction and murder of Israeli soldiers and the firing of thousands of Katyusha rockets against Israeli civilians in northern Israel.
Based on these reasons, the UK Jewish community decided to collectively launch a campaign to address the EU’s failure to designate Hizballah as a terrorist organisation. This blatant failure has allowed Hizballah reign free across Europe to further organise, recruit, raise funds, and carry out additional terrorist attacks across the continent. It has jeopardised the security of Europe’s Jews.
Following intensive representations by the Jewish community to the Government, Members of Parliament and the EU, our Foreign Office sent a formal request to the EU to classify the so-called ‘military wing’ of Hizballah as a terrorist group. Prime Minister David Cameron directly indicated his support for this outcome in a meeting with members of the Jewish Leadership Council in Downing Street in January 2013.
Indeed, David Cameron has always taken a robust stance against terrorism. As he said last year at a community run event to commemorate the Munich massacre:
Britain will always be a staunch friend of Israel. And we will stand with the Jewish people – and with all victims of terror around the world, whoever they are and wherever they are from. But our two countries, Britain and Israel share the same determination to fight terrorism and to ensure that these evil deeds will never win.
Mr Cameron has remained true to his words.
Hizballah’s military wing was banned in the UK in 2008 and the Government’s intentions regarding an EU wide ban had been signalled a few weeks ago in the House of Commons when Alistair Burt MP, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs told Michael McCann MP of Her Majesty’s Government’s intention to
“take the lead” in the “EU designation of the Hezbollah military wing”.
David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague must be congratulated for taking an active stance against Hizballah and leading the EU in pressing ahead to deliver this long-overdue designation as part of the fight against terror. The next step is to ensure that the process will progress smoothly and that attention will now turn to clamping down on the so-called ‘political’ wing of Hizballah.
Hizballah’s involvement in global terrorism, its illicit drugs trade and the now undisputed combatant role that it is playing in Syria on behalf of the Assad regime make this recent push from the UK a welcome and necessary one. This Iranian backed terror group must be stopped in its tracks and the rest of the EU must follow Britain’s lead.
In the words of William Hague,
It is important that the EU respond robustly to an attack on European soil. Every act of terror is an attack on our shared values. In committing an attack, terrorists seek to undermine our resolve, but they should only serve to strengthen it.