Clinging to an artificial distinction rejected by the U.S., the UK, and several of its own member states, the European Union considers Hizballah’s “military wing” a terrorist group, but not its “political wing.” Not only is the Iran-backed organization responsible for countless acts of terror, it also has slaughtered civilians in Syria, helped to bring about Lebanon’s current political and financial meltdown, and has tens of thousands of missiles aimed at Israel. Hans-Jakob Schindler argues that Brussels should be taking a different approach:
Beyond the instability and chaos Hizballah brings to the Middle East, it also has the potential to cause untold damage much closer to home. Should Hizballah be allowed to continue to consolidate its power, Lebanon could eventually become something long coveted by Iran: a forward base on the Mediterranean from which it can even more directly threaten Europe and its allies.
The organization is already present in a number of European countries. It uses the continent as a base for operations and recruitment, with more than 1,000 active members reportedly in Germany alone. Hizballah’s bases in Europe are also a central part of its global illicit-financing network. This includes the transportation and distribution of illegal drugs, the arms trade, and a professional money-laundering operation that [also serves] other criminal organizations.
Finally, as convictions in Cyprus in 2015 demonstrated, Hizballah uses European soil to store some of its terrorist supplies. The case in Cyprus involved the illegal storage of nearly nine tons of ammonium nitrate that were to be used by Hizballah operatives for bomb attacks in the country.
Hizballah has also not given up on its deadly operations in Europe. The group has been responsible for a number of major terrorist acts in the EU since the 1980s. As recently as 2012, a Hizballah bomb in Burgas, Bulgaria killed six civilians within EU borders, [in an attack on Israeli tourists]. This tragic event was what forced Europe to recognize Hezbollah’s military wing—if not the rest of the outfit—as a terrorist organization.