ANALYSIS: Hezbollah Under Pressure After German Clampdown
Why did Germany finally, after years of requests, finally outlaw the Lebanese terror militia?
Germany last week finally outlawed Hezbollah, the Iranian-founded and funded Shiite terror organization in Lebanon, and this could pave the way to a much wider ban by the European Union. At least that’s what Israeli and American diplomats hope.
Until last Thursday, only the Netherlands and the United Kingdom had taken action against Hezbollah and designated all branches of the organization as a terror group, rather than singling out its military branch, as many European countries do.
The German measure is very important for Israel that together with the Trump Administration in the United States worked for years to pressure the German government into banning Hezbollah.
Germany maintained a good relationship with Iran even after European countries such as France and Denmark prevented Hezbollah and Iranian terror attacks on European soil with the help of Israeli intelligence.
Immediately after announcing the ban on Hezbollah the German police clamped down on mosques and other Shiite organizations that are affiliated with Hezbollah in Berlin, Dortmund, Bremen, and Munster.
Steve Alter, a spokesman for Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, announced on Twitter the following: “BM (Bundes Minister) Seehofer today banned the activity of the Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah (Party of God) in Germany. Police measures are underway in several federal states concurrently since the early hours of the morning. The rule of law is able to act in times of crisis.”
Indeed, the German police raided several mosques and other Muslim institutions in various parts of Germany immediately after announcing the ban.
Under the ban on Hezbollah it is forbidden to show the yellow Hezbollah flag or other symbols related to the terrorist group even in the media, and Hezbollah’s assets in Germany will be confiscated.
The first test for enforcing the ban will come on May 15 when the annual al-Quds march is scheduled to take place in Berlin. This march has always been organized by the 1,050 Hezbollah operatives in Germany, and traditionally turned into an annual hate fest against Israel.
The German Interior Ministry linked the ban on Hezbollah to the group’s stance on the existence of the State of Israel.
“Hezbollah openly calls for the violent elimination of the State of Israel and questions the right of the State of Israel to exist,” the Ministry said in a statement.
The American ambassador in Germany, Richard Grenell, who also serves as the head of US national intelligence, called upon all other European countries to follow Germany’s example in outlawing Hezbollah.
“The world is a little bit safer with this German government ban of Hezbollah. The entire US Embassy in Berlin has worked with the German government and the Bundestag for two years to push for this ban. It’s an incredible diplomatic success that we hope will motivate many officials in Brussels to follow suit with an EU-wide ban,” Grenell told Fox News reporter Benjamin Weinthal, who almost singlehandedly kept the issue on the international agenda.
The question is now why Germany suddenly took action against Hezbollah, whose active members in Germany are involved in money laundering and other criminal activities on behalf of the Lebanese terror group.
After all, Germany repeatedly ignored Israeli and American requests to take action against the unofficial Hezbollah headquarters in the European country.
Channel 12 in Israel provided the answer and reported on Saturday that the Germans received accurate intelligence from the Israeli spy agency Mossad about what Hezbollah with the support of Iran was doing in southern Germany.
The Mossad carried out a months-long delicate operation on German soil and exposed that Hezbollah had established warehouses in southern Germany, where it stored hundreds of kilograms of ammonium nitrate, a material used for the fabrication of explosives.
Israel’s famous spy agency also delivered information about Hezbollah members who were planning terrorist attacks and on the workings of the group of Hezbollah agents who were laundering money or were involved in other illegal activities.
“The move is the result of many months of work with all parties in Germany. The heads of services were required to present explicit evidence and legal proof… linking the organization to significant terrorist activity, and that is what we did,” an unnamed Israeli official said.
Israel’s outgoing Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz applauded the German decision and said, “It is a very important decision and a valuable and significant step in the global fight against terrorism.”
Iran, on the other hand, condemned the German action against its proxy Hezbollah and seemed to threaten the Germans when it announced that Germany would “face consequences.”
In an angry statement the regime in Tehran claimed the Germans had given in to the “propaganda machine of the Zionists and America’s confused regime,” after Hezbollah had an alleged “key role in fighting ISIS terrorism in the region.”
As Israel Today reported on April 21, Hezbollah is not fighting ISIS, but is conducting a psychological war against Israel while trying to get a foothold on the Syrian Golan Heights.
After breaching the border fence on the Lebanese-Israeli border at three places on the night of April 24, Hezbollah placed giant posters along the border depicting assassinated Hezbollah leader Imad Mugniyeh and the former commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Qassem Soleimani, who was also assassinated at the beginning of January 2020.
“Revenge” was written on each poster in Farsi, a reference to the vow Iranian leaders made after Soleimani was assassinated by the US Air Force together with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the commander of Kata’ib Hezbollah, another Shiite militia that was founded with Iranian help in Iraq.
Israel wasn’t deterred, however, and over the past two weeks repeatedly attackedHezbollah units that were operating near its border with Syria on the Golan Heights, and a Hezbollah weapons depot in the northwestern province of Homs, wounding 10 Syrians.