WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) held a virtual congressional briefing focused on the threat posed by Hezbollah and its malign activities in Europe. The bipartisan briefing also discussed ways to deepen transatlantic cooperation to counter the terrorist organization. Following the briefing, Senators Rosen and Blackburn introduced a bipartisan resolution urging the European Union (EU) to fully designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization. In July, Representatives Ted Deutch (D-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Kathy Manning (D-NC), and Peter Meijer (R-MI) introduced a bipartisan House companion resolution.
“As Hezbollah faces financial pressure from U.S. sanctions, the organization increasingly relies on recruiting and fundraising networks in Europe to survive. Like it does around the world – from the Middle East to Latin America – Hezbollah has been engaging in illicit activities in Europe for years,” said Senator Rosen. “Today’s briefing was a first step in inter-parliamentary dialogue and an important opportunity to build upon continued and increased cooperation between the United States and Europe to stop Hezbollah’s criminal and terrorist activities, and I look forward to future inter-parliamentary cooperation to counter Hezbollah. I applaud the growing number of European countries that treat Hezbollah as one entity, recognizing that there is no distinction between its political and military wings. I am proud to announce introduction of a bipartisan resolution, co-led by Senator Blackburn, urging the EU to fully designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.”
“Hezbollah is a brutal terrorist organization notorious for operating throughout the Middle East,” said Senator Blackburn. “However, it derives both financial support and political legitimacy from every region of the world. The European Union cannot enable terrorists by allowing them to participate in diplomacy. Each nation in the EU must follow Slovenia‘s lead and designate Hezbollah as the terrorists they have proven themselves to be.”
“The threat posed by Hezbollah extends beyond the Middle East. The Iran-backed group has an established terrorist infrastructure across Europe,” said Julie Rayman, Deputy Director of Policy and Diplomatic Affairs at the American Jewish Committee. “The EU’s labeling of the “military wing” as a terror group was an incomplete action. There are no separate military and political arms. Hezbollah is one organization. Congress’s voice calling on the EU to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terror group is incredibly powerful. American Jewish Committee (AJC) thanks Senators Rosen and Blackburn for leading this effort.”
View full resolution text here.
BACKGROUND: Hezbollah uses Europe as a launching pad for its criminal and terrorist activities, including money laundering, drug smuggling, recruitment, and training. Currently, the EU only includes Hezbollah’s military wing – and not its political wing – on its list of sanctioned terrorist organizations. The U.S. makes no distinction between its branches and includes Hezbollah in its entirety on the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization list.
In July, Senators Rosen and Blackburn led a bipartisan letter to Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa urging him to use Slovenia’s current Presidency of the Council of the EU to confront Hezbollah’s activities in Europe.
Earlier this year, Senators Rosen and Blackburn introduced legislation requiring detailed reporting of known operatives, recruiting methods, and resources of Hezbollah in Latin America. It also authorizes sanctions against Hezbollah actors in the region and strengthen the anti-money laundering work of the Department of Homeland Security’s Trade Transparency Units.