Germany Designates Hezbollah as Terror Group, Raids Suspected Fronts

The country said it will use all available instruments of the rule of law to crack down on the terrorist organization and take strict measures against its activities. The announcement followed early-morning police raids to prevent the destruction of evidence linked to the group


Photo: Reuters

Germany's Interior Ministry on April 30 banned all activities by Hezbollah in the country and designated it as a terrorist organization. 
The step came hours after dawn raids by elite German police on several locations aimed at preventing the destruction of evidence regarding possible Hezbollah front groups. 
In a press release on April 30, the ministry said "Hezbollah openly calls for the violent elimination of the State of Israel and questions the right of the State of Israel to exist. The organization is therefore fundamentally against the concept of international understanding, regardless of whether it presents itself as a political, social or military structure."
"The German security authorities use all available instruments of the rule of law to crack down on terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and take strict measures against their activities in Germany, " including investigation of local sub-organizations, the ministry said.
The ban also prohibits the use of symbols of Hezbollah publicly, in an assembly, or for example in print, audio or visual material, it added. 
In a Twitter post, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said "Hezbollah denies Israel's right to exist, threatens violence and terror and continues to massively upgrade its missile arsenal. In Germany, we have to exhaust the rule of law to tackle Hezbollah’s criminal and terrorist activities."
His Israeli counterpart, Israel Katz, hailed Germany's move. "It is a very important decision and a valuable and significant step in the global fight against terrorism,” he said in a Twitter posting. "I call on other European countries as well as the European Union to do the same. All the parts of Hezbollah, including the social, political and military wings are terror organizations and they should be treated as such."
Germany is the third European country to ban the terrorist group, after the Netherlands and Britain.
Meanwhile, German police were reported to have conducted searches at community centers and mosques believed to be linked to Hezbollah in the cities of Recklinghausen, Muenster, Bremen, Dortmund and Berlin, as well as residences of leaders of the associations.
German authorities are said to estimate that about 1,000 people in the country are linked to the terrorist organization.

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