BRUSSELS / WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last month, the international Law Enforcement Coordination Group (LECG) met to discuss countermeasures to be taken against Lebanese Hezbollah and its broader network to inhibit its ability to commit acts of terrorism and fund itself via illegal operations.
Nearly 30 nations, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and a number of European and African countries, sent law enforcement officials and foreign intelligence specialists to the meeting as an indication of the rising awareness of the threat Hezbollah presents to global security.
The main topic of discussion at the meeting was Hezbollah’s quick entry into Latin America and Africa. Hezbollah continues to engage in illegal transnational criminal operations including drug trafficking, theft of intellectual property, and money laundering, notably in western Africa and the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of South America, which includes Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. Participants allegedly demanded that the terrorist nature of Hezbollah be acknowledged more widely. Since 2019, a number of European countries have joined the US, Canada, Israel, the Netherlands, and other countries in classifying Hezbollah as a single terrorist organization, revoking earlier designations that ostensibly divided the organization’s military and political wings.
Last year, a bipartisan group of members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a resolution requesting the European Union to end its distinction between Hezbollah’s political and military wing and list the organization in its entirety as a terrorist group.
The resolution was introduced by Ted Deutch (D-FL-22), Kathy Manning (D-NC-6), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12), and Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI-3). It was co-sponsored by French Hill (R-AR-2), Ted Lieu (D-CA-33), Brad Schneider (D-IL-10), Ritchie Torres (D-NY-15), Ann Wagner (R-MO-2), and Joe Wilson (R-SC-2)
In 2013, at the behest of Bulgaria, which suffered a terrorist attack organized by Hezbollah at the Burgas International Airport in 2012 that killed six and wounded 35 others, and Cyprus, which prevented a Hezbollah attack planned the same year, the European Union added the military branch of Hezbollah to its list of terrorist groups. It did not, however, list its political branch.
“When you are dealing with a ruthless terrorist organization like Hezbollah, there is no distinction between political and militant wings,” said Rep. Deutch, who is chairman of the Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism Subcommittee, at the time. “I’m pleased that many European countries took action to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization, as the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council have also done.”
“The European Union’s distinction between Hezbollah’s ‘military’ and ‘political’ wing is both dishonest and does little to address its fundraising and recruitment efforts,” Rep. Meijer said in a press release. “This resolution urges the E.U. to recognize the reality that Hezbollah—in its entirety—is a terrorist organization and takes steps to better combat its nefarious operations around the world.”