The Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday charged that the European Union’s decision to designate the military wing of Hezbollah a terrorist organization was insufficient since it didn’t extend to the Lebanese group’s other activities.
A statement released by the organization called the EU move to blacklist Hezbollah “a positive political statement, but a flawed counter-terrorism strategy.”
The ADL reiterated its “profound concerns” that the partial blacklisting of Hezbollah would be largely ineffectual, because law enforcement will not be able to comprehensively target the Lebanese group’s financial activities in Europe.
“Since terror-related operational activities are already illegal throughout the EU, the high-value counter-terrorism target remains Hezbollah’s financing activities in Europe — and that target was missed,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director.
The EU’s 28 foreign ministers reached a unanimous decision to blacklist the organization on Monday. The move was largely driven by the conclusion from an investigation that found Hezbollah responsible for a July 2012 bomb attack in the Black Sea resort of Burgas in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian. In October 2012 Cypriot authorities thwarted another planned attack, also attributed to Hezbollah.
The Iranian-backed Hezbollah plays a pivotal role in Lebanese politics and has sent many of its members to bolster Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in their assaults on rebel-held areas.
The EU made the decision after prolonged diplomatic pressure from the United States, the Netherlands and Israel, which consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
The ADL said that in June 2012 it wrote to Catherine Ashton, vice president of the European Commission, to stress that there was no real difference between Hezbollah’s terrorist and political activities.
To prove its point, the ADL cited Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary-General Naim Qassem who, it claimed, stated in 2009 that “Hezbollah has a single leadership,” and that “all political, social and jihad work is tied to the decisions of this leadership. The same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work also leads jihad actions in the struggle against Israel.”
“The long and public debate on this issue has given Hezbollah plenty of time to organize a charade of fundraising and financial operations through so-called political front groups,” Foxman said. “The best evidence of this decision’s ineffectiveness is Hezbollah’s utter indifference to it. The fact remains: Funding for Hezbollah is funding for terrorism.”
Hezollah’s backer, Iran, said the European Union’s decision was “strange” and “uncalculated.”
Foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Araghchi told a news conference in Tehran Tuesday that the decision by the EU to place the Shiite group on its terror list served Israel’s interests and would only complicate the situation in the Middle East.
Araghchi told reporters that the designation wouldn’t change Hezbollah’s “popular and justice-seeking identity.”