Hezbollah was Tolerated in Europe, but Now to be Battled as Terrorists? Israel is Watching

Are Hezbollah agents living in Europe, South America, and parts of Asia as “moles,” preparing to surface — if activated by their commanders in Lebanon and Iran?  Are they likely to receive attack orders, if Israel and/or the United States were to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities?  Would Hezbollah be the key to the terrorism “blow-back” that many U.S. analysts fear?

There’s a new on-line magazine called TheTower.Org (with its second monthly issue in May 2013), published by the Washington-based The Israel Project, hoping to break some news and give perspective on major issues in the Middle East.  Benjamin Weinthal has an article there on Europe— after years of denial and delay — moving toward branding Hezbollah (the militant Shi’ite party in Lebanon) as a terrorist organization.  The article suggests that if Hezbollah organizing and fundraising were to be stopped in Europe, the entire group would be severely weakened.

TheTower.org Shows this Portrayal of Hezbollah’s Leader, Sheik Nasrallah, in a Museum in Lyon, France (taken from Abode of Chaos/Flickr)

In these excerpts from “Europe Has a Serious Hezbollah Problem,” Weinthal writes:

“Europe’s official policy of soft-pedaling Hezbollah emerged early in the organization’s history. Following a wave of Hezbollah attacks across Europe in the 1980s, Europe’s number one aim was to make them stop happening. The unspoken agreement struck between the two centered on legal recognition of Hezbollah’s presence—including fundraising—in Europe, in exchange for refraining from terrorism on European soil. …

“While this may have alleviated European anxieties, it had grave unintended consequences. Not only did it render Europe politically and militarily impotent against one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations, it allowed Hezbollah to turn Europe into its economic backbone and create one of the world’s most powerful criminal enterprises. ..

“Once upon a time, Europe’s tacit deal with Hezbollah might have made sense, if only on the most Machiavellian, pragmatic level. But now, it is difficult to see what possible benefit the EU derives from it. It has not stopped Hezbollah from resuming terrorism on the continent. It has undermined Europe’s moral and political standing in the world. It has been of great economic benefit to Hezbollah, to the detriment of European criminal law. And it threatens to undermine the very stability of Lebanon and the greater Middle East that Europe so wants to preserve.”

Weinthal adds that the watershed event was the bombing of a tourist bus in Bulgaria, last July, that killed 5 Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver.

A question for Israel’s intelligence community — which monitors Hezbollah activity in dozens of countries, often seeing the Lebanese terrorists working with Iranians and even Iran’s embassies — is whether Israel will vigorously pursue a low-level war outside the Middle East.  After the massacre at the Munich Olympics in 1972, which left 11 Israeli athletes dead, the Mossad did engage in a brief but violent war against Palestinian militants in Europe.

 

April 25, 2013

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