Senator Joseph Lieberman (I., Conn.) sponsored a resolution earlier this month urging “the President to make available to European allies and the European public information about Hizballah’s terrorist activities.” The goal of Lieberman’s resolution — and a similar House resolution — is to push the European Union to outlaw the anti-American and Iranian proxy Hezbollah .
In short, Hezbollah has waged a murder campaign against the U.S. since its creation in 1982 as a terrorist subsidiary of Iran’s clerical regime.
Europe has permitted Hezbollah to engage in widespread fundraising (and weapons procurement) on its territory and the recruitment of new members, as well as the distribution of terror propaganda. Take the example of Germany, where the number of Hezbollah members has increased from 900 in 2010 to 950 in 2012. France, like Germany, has showed no appetite to crackdown on Hezbollah.
If the EU fails to include Hezbollah on its terror list, the U.S. should consider freezing talks over U.S.-EU free-trade zone agreements. The pre-conditions to move forward with a U.S.-EU free-trade zone ought to be a terror-free EU environment, including a ban of Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) within the EU’s 27-member body.
David Cohen, under secretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, neatly captured the lethal nature of Hezbollah in August: “Before al-Qaeda’s attack on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, Hizballah was responsible for killing more Americans in terrorist attacks than any other terrorist group.”
The United Kingdom deemed Hezbollah’s military wing to be a terror entity but permitted its political organization to function in England. It is a distinction without a difference. The U.K.’s designation is a theater of the absurd. In fact, Hezbollah’s No. 2 leader, Naim Qassem, rejects the British distinction. He said in 2009, “Hezbollah has a single leadership,” and “all political, social and jihad work is tied to the decisions of this leadership.”
Only the Dutch government has listed Hezbollah’s entire enterprise as an illicit terror organization.
Two conservative European politicians — Fiamma Nirenstein from Italy and Philipp Missfelder from Germany — have called for the EU to list Hezbollah as a terror organization. But they are unusual political voices in Europe where the mainstream media have largely ignored any meaningful discussion of banning Hezbollah.
A joint Iran-Hezbollah operation blew up a bus full of Israeli tourists in July, killing five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver.
Europe is at a crossroads. Will Europe take the business of protecting its citizens and visitors to the EU seriously? Will Europe coordinate its counterterrorism efforts with its U.S. ally and help the U.S. protect its citizens? The Obama administration has leverage over Europe and can make any future free-trade deals contingent on uniform anti-terror policies.
— Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.