Germany "favours" Hezbollah ban
Sources have said that the German interior minister favours a ban on Hezbollah following further information about the Bulgaria bombing
German authorities will reportedly request that the terrorist outfit Hezbollah be placed on the EU's list of terrorist groups if suspicions are confirmed that the organisation was behind the bus bombing in Bulgaria last year.
Recent reports signalled strongly that the Lebanon-based terror outfit was complicit in the bombing, however with further evidence still coming to light, the German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said he favoured banning the group in Europe.
The question of whether to place Hezbollah on the EU's designated terror list has been a long-fought battle on both sides, with those against such a move arguing that relations with the group that forms part of Lebanon's government is integral to EU-Lebanon relations. The argument is also made that there is a difference between Hezbollah's armed, terrorist wing, and its political wing. Opponents to this have argued that it is a false distinction, and that the entirety of the group should be proscribed.
According to Spiegel Online, after talks with representatives of the American Jewish Committee and security experts, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said he favored banning the group in Europe.
In early February, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, then Bulgaria's Minister of Interior, made an official statement saying the probe on the attack that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver gives grounds to believe it was organised and carried out by Hezbollah's military wing. At the time, Germany warned of "consequences" for Hezbollah if allegations were confirmed.
Only two EU countries currently label Hezbollah a terrorist organisation - the UK and the Netherlands. The UK blacklists only the "military wing" of the Shiite organization.
Blacklisting the organisation could allow regional authorities to clamp down on financial flows to the group and open the way for freezing assets linked to Hezbollah in Europe.
Germany is said to be one of the key fundraising areas for Hezbollah and is said to have around 1000 Hezbollah agents in the country. A ban from Germany alone, or indeed the European Union, is thought to be able to cripple the terrorist outfit's fundraising strategy.
Hasan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah has previously remarked that a European ban would "destroy" the group because 'the sources of our funding will dry up and the sources of moral, political and material support will be destroyed".
On Tuesday, the Bahraini parliament voted to place Hezbollah on the terrorist organisation list, according to the Jerusalem Post, following attempts by the organisation to overthrow the Bahraini government.
The government of Cyprus recently jailed a man it claimed is a Hezbollah operative who was seeking to target Israeli citizens in the European country.
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