UK to extend Hezbollah ban

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid plans to certify Hezbollah as an illegal terrorist organisation, extending the ban to the “political wing” of the Lebanon-based terrorist group later this year, according to a report in the Jewish Chronicle newspaper.

A senior Conservative Party source told the Jewish Chronicle that the Home Secretary would proscribe the entire organisation as an illegal terrorist group using existing powers in counter-terrorism legislation. Since 2008, the military wing of Hezbollah has been a proscribed terrorist group and membership and support of the organisation is a serious criminal offence. The ‘political wing’ of Hezbollah is not currently restricted and campaigners have long argued that even Hezbollah leaders suggest that no such distinction actually exists. The US bans the entire organisation, but the EU currently only bans the military wing.

The Conservative party source said: “Sajid is a very different beast to the Home Secretary he has just replaced. Amber Rudd spoke repeatedly about taking action over Hezbollah – but for whatever reason was not able to get around to doing anything.” Last Sunday, Hezbollah flags were flown during the annual Al Quds day march in London, with one speaker declaring that Israel’s “days are numbered” and that it should be “wiped from the map”. In April, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he had written to Amber Rudd asking her to ban the march as he was unable to do so because of the legal distinction between the political and military wing of Hezbollah.

Tom Tugendhat MP, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, argued in the Sunday Telegraph that the current legal status of Hezbollah was a result of “tortured thinking” and called for a ban of the entire organisation. Joan Ryan MP, Chair of the Labour Friends of Israel, wrote to Sajid Javid after the Quds rally to express her regret that “the Home Office has not heeded the repeated warnings raised by LFI MPs and the Mayor of London over the past year.” She asked for an urgent meeting with the Home Secretary.

Hezbollah has been heavily involved in the Syrian war fighting alongside Iranian Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) troops and Shia militias supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with around 7,000 fighters current deployed in the country.

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