Germany bans fundraising group over Hezbollah ties

The ‘Orphaned Children Project-Lebanon’ said to have raised $4.5 million for terror-linked organization

The Hezbollah flag flying in Lebanon. (CC BY-upyernoz/Flickr)
The Hezbollah flag flying in Lebanon. (CC BY-upyernoz/Flickr)

BERLIN — German authorities banned an organization they say has raised millions of dollars for the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which the European Union considers a terrorist organization.

Emily Haber, a deputy interior minister, said police raided 19 locations early Tuesday in six German states used by the so-called “Orphaned Children Project — Lebanon.”

“The name of the group masks its actual purpose,” Haber said in a statement.

They seized 40 boxes of evidence, including Hezbollah paraphernalia, “many kilograms” of gold coins and two bank accounts containing about €65,000 ($90,000) in total. There were no arrests.

Haber said the organization based in the western city of Essen had raised €3.3 million ($4.5 million) in donations between 2007 and 2013 for the Lebanese Shahid Foundation, an “integral” part of Hezbollah.

The ministry said the funds were used to recruit fighters “to combat Israel, also with terrorist measures” and compensate the families of suicide bombers.

“Organizations that directly or indirectly from German soil oppose the State of Israel’s right to exist may not seek freedom of association protection,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in the statement.

He said the group’s goals violated Germany’s constitution.

The European Union in July last year listed Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization.

The German interior ministry said it had put Orphan Children Project — Lebanon under surveillance since 2009.

The Lebanon-based Shahid Foundation has well-known links to Hezbollah and provides financial support to the families of slain fighters.

Authorities say there are around 1,000 Hezbollah supporters living in Germany.

Bulgaria’s interior minister said Monday he was convinced that Hezbollah was behind a July 2012 bus bombing that killed five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver near the resort town of Burgas.

Asked by reporters on Monday whether Hezbollah was responsible for the bombing, Tsvetlin Yovchev said that “all traces lead there.”

“What we can prove in court is another matter,” he said, and added: “If you’re asking me if I am certain of this – yes, I am.”

Israel has campaigned for the group to be blacklisted by the European Union and worldwide in the wake of the bombing.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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