Report: Hizbullah Members Operate with Few Restrictions in Europe

Posted on: August 17, 2012 at 00:50
Thousands of Hizbullah members and supporters operate with few restrictions in Europe, raising money that is funnelled to the group’s leadership in Lebanon, the New York Times reported.

While the U.S. and Israel consider Hizbullah an Iranian-backed terrorist organization with bloody hands, the European Union continues to treat it foremost as a Lebanese political and social movement, it said.

According to the newspaper, Germany is the center of Hizbullah’s activity in Europe.

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency said in its annual threat report that Hizbullah had 950 members and supporters in Germany last year, up from 900 in 2010.

On Saturday, Hizbullah supporters and others will march there for the annual Jerusalem Day event, a protest against Israeli control of that city. Organizers told the Berlin police that the event would attract 1,000 marchers, and that two counterdemonstrations were also likely.

“Hizbullah has maintained a low profile in Europe since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, quietly holding meetings and raising money that goes to Lebanon, where officials use it for an array of activities — building schools and clinics, delivering social services and, Western intelligence agencies say, carrying out terrorist attacks,” said the New York Times.

It said that European security services keep tabs on the group’s political supporters, but experts say they are ineffective when it comes to tracking the sleeper cells that pose the most danger.

“They have real, trained operatives in Europe that have not been used in a long time, but if they wanted them to become active, they could,” said Alexander Ritzmann, a policy adviser at the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels, who has testified before Congress on Hizbullah.
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