Last month, the German government took the principled decision to ban the entire Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah and designate it as a terrorist organization. As a key player in the war on radical Islamic terror, Australia should do likewise.
In February this year, Peter Dutton, Australian Minister for Home Affairs, said Australia was considering listing the ‘military wing’ of Hezbollah as terrorist, adding that “nobody should have sympathy” for the Shiite terror group and that a full review would be conducted in April.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, that review has, understandably, been put on hold.
Australia since 2003, like Germany previously, has maintained a superficial distinction between Hezbollah’s ‘military’ and so-called ‘political wings.
Germany’s announcement followed a similar decision of Britain in February this year, after Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the UK came to a realization that “we are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party.”
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 case anyone needs a refresher, make no mistake about it, Hezbollah is a ruthless genocidal jihadist terrorist organization created in 1982, funded, armed and answerable entirely to 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, 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.
Hezbollah’s undeniable fingerprints of death, destruction and terror, can be seen the world over, from Europe, to Latin America, South East Asia and across the Middle East.
One of Hezbollah’s most brazen terror attacks, was the 1994 car bombing of the Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in which eighty-five people were killed. In 1992, Hezbollah also carried out the bombing of Israel’s Embassy in Argentina, killing 29 people. To date, neither Hezbollah, nor their Iranian paymasters have been held accountable for either attack, which also only serves to underscore that Jews and Israel are one and the same interchangeable target for the terror group.
Today, in addition to Germany, UK, the United States, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, a number of Latin American countries, and importantly, the Arab League and Gulf states, all consider the entire Hezbollah group as a terrorist organization.
Following the decision to outlaw Hezbollah, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said “it is important that Germany exhausts the means of the rule of law to take action against criminal and terrorist activities of Hezbollah.”
Likewise, it is imperative, that Australia, with its principled foreign policy agenda and crucial role in the war on radical Islamic terror, as well as a leading ally of the State of Israel, designate the entire Hezbollah group as a terrorist organization.
Under the Criminal Code Act (1995), the Attorney-General has the power to list a group as a terrorist organisation, if he is satisfied on reasonable grounds that the organisation “is directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, or assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist act; or advocates the doing of a terrorist act”.
To deny in the face of overwhelming and unequivocal evidence that Hezbollah is anything but a terrorist organisation is like still denying the earth is round.
By maintaining a superficial distinction between Hezbollah’s ‘military’ and so-called ‘political wings,’ contributes first and foremost to an increased national security risk in Australia.
Under the law at present, Australians are able to ostensibly raise money for the purported ‘political wing’ of the organization, however that may ultimately be used for acts of terror, including against Australian citizens and targets at home and abroad.
Mosques and radical preachers may use the loophole to radicalize young Australians.
And whereas ISIS flags are rightfully banned, the Hezbollah flag, which even has an assault rifle emblazoned at the centre, can be flown in public.
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.
Previously, the argument has been made, including in Australia, that banning Hezbollah in full may further destabilise Lebanon and jeopardize Australia’s bilateral relations.
In reality, however, countries with full bans of Hezbollah, including the United States, Canada and Netherlands, have not seen their relations with Lebanon impeded. On the contrary, intransigence in acting against Hezbollah, has only further emboldened the terrorist group, providing it legitimacy, while giving Iran a stronger foothold to carry out their destabilizing and expansionist activities in the region.
In 2018, during its last review, even Australia’s Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and Security recommended that the Government ban the ‘military wing’ of Hezbollah, noting that the organization continues to be “directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist action.”
Richard Grenell, the U.S. Ambassador to Berlin and Acting Director of U.S. National Intelligence, who was instrumental in leading U.S. effort to have Germany ban Hezbollah, commented after the decision “the world is a little bit safer.”
The world can be much safer if principled nations like Australia, once and for all, called a spade a spade ended the superficial separation of Hezbollah, designating the entire group as a terrorist organization.
Arsen Ostrovsky is an International Human Rights Lawyer and Counter-Terrorism Analyst, who also serves as Israel Affairs Director for the Zionist Council of NSW.
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