Friday, July 18, 2008

Even With Its 'Successes,' Hizbullah Faces Increasing Pressure

No one ever said being terrorists would be easy:
Even as Hizballah celebrates these successes, it is under increasing pressure and scrutiny abroad. Yesterday, Britain's parliament approved a Home Office order issued earlier this month, banning Hizballah's military wing, al-Muqawam al-Islamiyya or Islamic Resistance. Hizballah's terrorist wing, often called the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO) or, as in Britain, the External Services Organization (ESO), was banned in 2001. Condemning "Hizballah's violence and support for terrorism," the ban outlaws raising funds, encouraging support for, or belonging to, Hizballah's military wing.
Truth be told, Prime Minister Brown makes clear that self-interest influenced his decision more than simple morality--
Prime Minister Gordon Brown informed members of parliament that the decision to act now was based "on the sole grounds of new evidence of [Hizballah] involvement in terrorism in Iraq and the occupied Palestinian territories." According to reports in the British press, these include "planning to kidnap British security workers in Iraq," echoing the charges of two Iraqi parliamentarians claiming that Hizballah planned and oversaw the kidnapping of five Britons -- still missing -- from the Iraqi Finance Ministry in May 2007.

The U.S. government has also taken action against Hizballah since its forced takeover of Beirut. The U.S. Department of Treasury designated two Hizballah operatives in Venezuela, highlighting the scope of the organization's global footprint. One, Ghazi Nasr al-Din, is a Venezuelan diplomat who has been posted to its embassies in both Damascus and Lebanon. According to the Treasury, Nasr al-Din "counseled Hizballah donors on fundraising efforts and has provided donors with specific information on bank accounts where the donors' deposits would go directly to Hizballah." Undercutting the notion that there are distinct wings within Hizballah, he also met with senior Hizballah officials in Lebanon "to discuss operational issues" and "arranged the travel of Hizballah members to attend a training course in Iran."

Treasury describes the second designated individual, Fawzi Kanan, as "a significant provider of financial support to Hizballah" who "facilitated travel for Hizballah members," and also went to Iran for training with other members. He too crosses the lines between support, military, and terrorist activity, having "met with senior Hizballah officials in Lebanon to discuss operational issues, including possible kidnappings and terrorist attacks."
There is an additional front that Hizbullah has to deal with as well:
The pressure against Hizballah, however, is not just coming from governments. In the United States and Canada, two civil lawsuits were filed this month against Lebanese banks for providing Hizballah with financial services needed to carry out military and terrorist operations. In New York, plaintiffs sued a series of banks for providing Hizballah with "regular, systematic, and unfettered access to U.S. currency" with which it purchased rockets and other weapons. In Canada, plaintiffs sued banks for allowing U.S.-designated Hizballah entities, such as Yousser Company and Martyrs Foundation, "to open and maintain accounts and to freely transfer many millions of dollars of Hizballah funds and to carry out millions of dollars in financial transactions" (see PolicyWatch #1267). Cases such as these can be costly not only financially, but also in terms of the unwanted exposure they are likely to bring to both the banks and Hizballah.
Let us hope so.

Read the whole thing.

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