Casey to EU Council President: Make Designating Hezbollah a Terrorist Organization a Priority

New Developments in Cyprus, Bulgaria Demonstrate Need for Action

In Letter, Senator Renews Effort to Have Hezbollah Named Terrorist Organization By the European Union

Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that he has sent a letter to the current President of the Council of the European Union, Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny, urging him to make the naming of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization a priority. In his letter, Senator Casey cited two recent developments in Cyprus and Bulgaria that demonstrate the threat that Hezbollah poses to Europe.

Casey wrote, “Emboldened by Iran’s support, Hezbollah become more aggressive in the past few years and has executed attacks not only in the Middle East, but in Europe and South Asia.  It has partnered with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to bolster Bashar al-Assad’s campaign of repression and violence in Syria, further destabilizing the region. “

The full text of Senator Casey’s letter can be seen below:

The Honorable Enda Kenny

Taoiseach

Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

Dear Taoiseach Kenny:

As countries that have felt acutely the threat of violent extremism, the United States and Ireland share a common goal of dismantling and defeating terrorist organizations that seek to attack our interests.  I have long called for the European Union to join the United States in designating Hezbollah a terrorist organization, and recent developments in Bulgaria and Cyprus demonstrate the Hezbollah is intent on bringing its terrorist activity to European shores. I urge you to prioritize this issue for the duration of your government’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. 

Emboldened by Iran’s support, Hezbollah become more aggressive in the past few years and has executed attacks not only in the Middle East, but in Europe and South Asia.  It has partnered with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to bolster Bashar al-Assad’s campaign of repression and violence in Syria, further destabilizing the region.  Hezbollah should not be allowed to operate with impunity, and the EU should join the United States in designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. 

On March 21, a criminal court in Cyprus found Hezbollah member Hossam Taleb Yaacoub guilty of collecting information on Israeli targets and plotting terrorist attacks in Cyprus.  Yaacoub, at the instruction of a shadowy Hezbollah handler in Lebanon, tracked Israeli tourists, recorded license plates and flight times, and even acted as a courier for the organization in Europe.   In February, the Bulgarian government announced that Hezbollah was linked to the July 2012 attack in Burgas, which killed five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian bus driver.  I commended the Bulgarian government for its investigation and for its courage in announcing the results.  These two incidents reflect a Hezbollah that has not only the technical capacity and Iranian support, but the clear intent to strike on European soil. 

During a recent visit to Lebanon, Defense Minister Alan Shatter rightly said that there is no “valid distinction” between Hezbollah’s military and political wings, unlike the difference between the Irish Republican Army and Sinn Fein.  I welcome this statement, because the United States also sees Hezbollah as a single entity and as one of the most technically capable terrorist organizations in the world. 

The United States and the EU have stood united in efforts to counter Iran’s nuclear ambitions and in responding to the protracted conflict and humanitarian crisis in Syria.  We share an interest in a stable and prosperous Middle East and in cooperating to fight Iranian terror.  The EU’s designation of Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, as a terrorist organization would be an important and timely step. I appreciate your leadership and the EU’s consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator

 

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