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Dangers Posed By Hezbollah


Lebanese Hezbollah fighters stand next to a mock rocket under a poster of Hezbollah's leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

The U.S. is deeply concerned about the threats posed by the Iranian and Syrian-supported terrorist group Hezbollah.

The U.S. is deeply concerned about the threats posed by the Iranian and Syrian-supported terrorist group Hezbollah.

In testimony before congress, the U.S. Department of State's Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Daniel Benjamin, said, "Hezbollah remains the most technically capable terrorist group in the world. It is responsible for some of the deadliest terrorist attacks against Americans in history. Hezbollah's persistence as a well-armed terrorist group within Lebanon, its robust relationships with Iran and Syria, and their transfer of increasingly sophisticated missiles and rockets to Hezbollah threaten the interest of the United States, Lebanon and our partners in the region, especially Israel."

Hezbollah's destabilizing actions have a global reach, said Mr. Benjamin. "The recent convictions of a Hezbollah cell in Egypt for spying, plotting attacks on resorts frequented by tourists, and arms smuggling illustrates the group's growing ambitions. In Iraq, we are aware of Hezbollah providing training and other support to Shi'a militant groups that carry out attacks against coalition forces."

Mr. Benjamin said that "Hezbollah's web also extends to Europe and the Caucasus," citing a planned attack against the Israeli embassy in Baku that was foiled. He called on America's allies, including the EU, "to cease contact with the group and enact sanctions."

The U.S., said Mr. Benjamin, rejects the argument that there is a difference between the group's military and political wings. He reiterated long-standing U.S. policy of refusing to engage diplomatically with Hezbollah.

Only when Hezbollah ceases its terrorist activities, when it stops embracing violence against innocents as a means to political ends, and when it desists from threatening key U.S. allies, would the United States consider changing its policy on engagement, said Mr. Benjamin. Otherwise, he said, engaging Hezbollah "would be very, very damaging to what it is we are trying to achieve in counterterrorism."

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