Austrian Parliament Stops Short Of Recognizing Hezbollah In Its Entirety As Terrorist Organization
(New York, N.Y.) – On March 15, 2020, a Hezbollah commander was arraigned in Carinthia, Austria, on the charge of financing terrorism. The commander, having lived in Carinthia for 13 years, stands accused of working for Hezbollah in Lebanon and financing operations for the terror group, and could face a 10-year prison sentence. His name has been withheld from the public and he remains free while awaiting trial. Austrian daily Kronen Zeitung reported that the charges had triggered public outrage over the defendant not remaining in custody while awaiting trial. The prosecution coincides with an anti-Hezbollah resolution passed by Austria’s parliament this month.
The resolution calls upon Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to “take suitable and effective measures to continue to take decisive action against terrorist and criminal activities by Hezbollah supporters in Austria using the entire rule of law, to prevent Hezbollah from being financed through money laundering activities, and to re-assess the question of how to deal with Hezbollah within the European Union.” The resolution did not call on Kurz’s government, however, to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.
The European Union and most of its member states have artificially separated Hezbollah’s political party from its its so-called “military wing” and designated only the military wing, despite the terror group considering itself a singular organization. Ahead of the EU’s designation of Hezbollah’s “military wing” in 2012, Europe’s leaders were divided over the label out of fear of complicating their relationships with Lebanon since Lebanon’s government and armed forces have been compromised by the Iranian-backed terror organization.
The United States, which has designated Hezbollah as a whole as a terrorist entity, has continued to sanction Lebanese institutions. In February 2020, the Treasury Department imposed financial sanctions on three Lebanese individuals and 12 entities affiliated with or controlled by the Iran-based Martyrs Foundation. The designated companies included Atlas Holding for being owned or controlled by the Martyrs Foundation. Atlas and its subsidiaries had conducted financial transactions for Hezbollah through the previously designated Jammal Trust Bank, which the United States accused of facilitating hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions through the Lebanese financial system and aiding Hezbollah officials in evading scrutiny from Lebanese financial authorities.
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