The UK government is to add Hezbollah in its entirety to its list of terrorist organizations, alongside Ansaroul Islam and JNIM who operate in the Sahel region in Africa.
Subject to Parliament’s approval, from Friday March 1, when the order comes into effect, being a member, or inviting support for Hezbollah, Ansaroul Islam and JNIM will be a criminal offence, carrying a sentence of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.
Hezbollah’s External Security Organization and its military wing including the Jihad Council were already proscribed in 2001 and 2008 respectively.
The UK government has now taken the decision to proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety on the basis that it is no longer tenable to distinguish between the military and political wings of Hezbollah.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said Hezbollah is continuing in its attempts to destabilize the fragile situation in the Middle East and that intel is no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt added that a distinction between Hezbollah’s military and political wings does not exist, and by proscribing Hezbollah in all its forms, the British government is sending a clear signal that its destabilizing activities are totally unacceptable and detrimental to the UK’s national security.
Hezbollah was established during the Lebanese civil war and is committed to armed resistance to the state of Israel. It continues to amass weapons in direct contravention of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolutions, putting the security of the region at risk. The UK government says Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian war since 2012 continues to prolong the conflict and the regime’s brutal and violent repression of the Syrian people.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commended the move and said it showed that international unity to confront Iran’s regime continues to grow. He tweeted: “This Iran-sponsored terrorist group has American blood on its hands and continues to plot and carry out attacks in the Mideast, Europe and around the world.”
Israel’s foreign minister also welcomed Britain’s decision and called for the United Nations to follow suit. “I would like to praise the British government on the decision to recognize the entire Hezbollah organisation as a terrorist organization,” Israel Katz wrote on Twitter. “In my upcoming meeting with the UN secretary-general in New York next week I will stress that the UN institutions should take a similar resolution.”
Of the other groups to be proscribed, Ansaroul Islam seeks to impose its own strict Salafist Sharia law in northern Burkina Faso and is known to target other ethnic groups in the region leading to substantial internal displacement of people. In December 2016, the group claimed responsibility for an attack on an army outpost in Burkina Faso which killed at least 12 soldiers.
Meanwhile, JNIM was established in March 2017 as a federation of Al Qaeda aligned groups in Mali and aims to impose a strict Salafist interpretation of Sharia law in the Sahel region and has claimed responsibility for several attacks in the region in which people were killed.
A separate order effective February 26 proscribes the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKC), the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party (DHKP) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front/Armed Propaganda Units (DHKC/SPB) as aliases of the Revolutionary Peoples’ Liberation Party—Front (Devrimci Halk Kurtulus Partisi-Cephesi) (DHKP-C) which is already proscribed.
In addition, Jaysh Khalid Bin Walid (JKbW) (JKW), Jaysh Khalid bin al-Walid (KBW) and Khalid ibn-Walid Army (KBWA) are proscribed as aliases of ISIS.
There are currently 74 international terrorist organizations proscribed under the British government’s Terrorism Act 2000, alongside 14 organizations connected to Northern Ireland proscribed under separate legislation.