The United States is calling on the European Union to designate Hezbollah, the radical Lebanon-based Shiite group, a terrorist organization. The U.S. listed Hezbollah a foreign terrorist organization in 1997.
In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Thomas Donilon, President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor, said the Bulgarian government has “lifted the veil on the group’s continued terrorist activities.” After more than six months of investigation, the Bulgarian government announced on February 5 that Hezbollah was responsible for the July 2012 terrorist attack in Burgas that killed five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian bus driver and wounded dozens of people.
“This report is significant,” wrote Mr. Donilon, “because a European Union member state, Bulgaria, explicitly pointed a finger at Hezbollah . . .Europe can no longer ignore the threat that this group poses to the continent and to the world. . .The Bulgarian investigation has once again proved to the world what Hezbollah has tried for years to hide: that it remains engaged in international terrorist attacks against civilians.”
“Over the last decade,” said Mr. Donilon, ”Hezbollah has worked assiduously to obscure its terrorist pedigree and convince the world that it is interested only in politics, providing social welfare services, and defending Lebanon. But it is an illusion to speak of Hezbollah as a responsible political actor.”
“Since 2011, the group has murdered civilians in Bulgaria, seen its activities disrupted in Cyprus and Thailand, and worked to plot attacks elsewhere. It is helping to prop up the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria; and it acts as a proxy for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the region and beyond.”
Mr. Donilon said that now that the Bulgarian authorities have exposed Hezbollah’s global terrorist agenda, European governments must respond swiftly. “They must disrupt its operational networks, stop flows of financial assistance to the group, crack down on Hezbollah-linked criminal enterprises and condemn the organization’s leaders for their continued pursuit of terrorism.”
“The United States applauds those countries that have long recognized Hezbollah’s nefarious nature and that have already condemned the group for the attack in Burgas,” said National Security Advisor Donilon. “Europe must now act collectively and respond resolutely to this attack within its borders by adding Hezbollah to the European Union’s terrorist list. That is the next step toward ensuring that Burgas is the last successful Hezbollah operation on European soil.”