Hezbollah’s wing

March 15, 2019 by J-Wire
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Last week, the United Kingdom took the principled decision to ban the Iranian-Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah in full.

Arsen Ostrovsky

As a key player in the war on radical Islamic terror, Australia should do likewise. Recent comments by Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, in which she indicated that Australia is open to following the UK’s lead, are a positive step in the right direction.

But first some context.

Make no mistake about it, Hezbollah is a genocidal jihadist terrorist organisation, created in 1982, funded and instructed at the behest of the Iranian regime. 

Hezbollah’s primary goal is not only the elimination of the State of Israel, but Jews worldwide. Its ‘Manifesto’, clearly states: “Our struggle will end only when this entity [Israel] is obliterated.” 

In 2002, Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah Secretary-General, stated “if Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing after them worldwide.”

Since the conclusion of the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah has amassed over 150,000 mostly Iranian-made rockets, aimed at the heart of the Jewish state, in flagrant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 

Under Tehran’s instructions, Hezbollah has also become one of the key backers of the Assad regime in Syria and is today, according to Forbes Magazine, the richest terror organisation in the world, amassing a fortune of over $1 billion, in large part due to its global narco-terrorism operations – including in Australia. 

More recently, in the last few months, Israel uncovered at least half a dozen Hezbollah terror attack tunnels, leading from Lebanon into Israeli civilian territory. 

In addition to the UK, the United States, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and importantly, the Arab League, all consider the entire group as a terrorist organisation.

Thus far, since 2003, Australia, similar to the European Union, maintains a superficial distinction between Hezbollah’s ‘military’ and so-called ‘political wings.’ 

In effect, what this means is that Australians are allowed to waive the Hezbollah terrorist flag (which even has an assault rifle emblazoned at the centre) in public and raise money for the ‘political wing’ of the organisation, that may ultimately be used for acts of terror, including against Australian citizens and targets.

Meantime, some mosques may also use the loophole to radicalize young Australians, while Hezbollah is able to continueusing Australia as a source of money laundering as part of its drug operationsand money laundering activities.

In the 2012 Bulgaria terror bus bombing by Hezbollah, that claimed the lives of five Israeli tourists and a local Bulgarian man, one of the alleged perpetrators, Meliad Farah, was in fact also an Australian citizen. He has since become the first Australian to be subject to EU financial sanctions against terrorists. 

In announcing their decision to ban the entire organisation, the UK Government said“it is clear the distinction between Hezbollah’s military and political wings does not exist.” 

Now, this should not come as no surprise.

Even Naim Qassem, Hezbollah’s Deputy Leader, has said: “Hezbollah has a single leadership”, reinforcing that “the same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work also leads jihad actions in the struggle against Israel.”

 In the past, the argument has been made, including in Australia, that banning the group in full may further de-stabilize Lebanon and jeopardize Australia’s bilateral relations.

 In reality however, countries with full bans of Hezbollah, including United States, Canada and Netherlands, have not seen their relations with Lebanon impeded. On the contrary, intransigence in doing so, has only further emboldened the terrorist group, providing it legitimacy, while giving Iran a stronger foothold to carry out their destabilising and expansionist activities in the region. 

Furthermore, maintaining this difference allows Hezbollah to continue fundraising and recruiting for its global terror activities, including potentially in Australia, in the process undermining counter-terrorism efforts.

In the House of Commons debate on the Hezbollah terror listing, Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid referred to the distinction between the two wings as “smoke and mirrors.”

Javid is correct. We must stop this charade of separating the two wings, when they are in fact one and the same, indivisible and indistinguishable.

As a key player in the war on radical Islamic terror, who also appreciates the full extent of the threat posed by Iran’s destabilizing activities, it is in Australia’s own security interest, as well as our interests in the region, to end the superficial distinction between Hezbollah’s ‘political’ and ‘military’ wings and join our allies in listing the entire group as a terrorist organisation.

Arsen Ostrovsky is the Zionist Council of NSW’s Director of Israel Affairs and an International Human Rights Lawyer, based in Israel.

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