Countries around the world are taking on Hizballah, designating the Iranian regime’s top proxy as a terrorist group, imposing sanctions and arresting operatives.
U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo told the Third Western Hemisphere Counterterrorism Ministerial in Bogota, Colombia, January 20 that these new designations, many by Central and South American nations, will strengthen global counterterrorism efforts.
“I hope that other nations will take similar steps to crack down on this group and other terrorist organizations by levying designations, cutting off terrorist financing, and bringing charges against suspected operatives,” Pompeo told the conference. “We call on all of our neighbors to adopt legal frameworks that enable them to sanction terrorists.”
The U.S. is seeking to end the Iranian regime’s support for Hizballah through economic sanctions that strip the regime of cash it would funnel to terrorists. The U.S. designated Hizballah a terrorist group in 1997 and many other Western nations are now following suit.
The United Kingdom recently expanded its terrorist designation of Hizballah to cover the group’s political as well as military branches. Kosovo designated Hizballah as a terrorist organization in June 2019.
Honduras and Colombia designated Hizballah a terrorist group in January, and Guatemala has pledged to take similar action. This comes after Paraguay, in August, formally designated Hizballah and other terrorist groups, including al-Qaida, ISIS and Hamas.
We applaud the announcements of Colombia, Honduras, and Guatemala to designate #Iran-backed #Hizballah a terrorist organization. It and other transnational terrorist groups remain active in the region. The U.S. continues to rally international support to counter these threats.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 20, 2020
Argentina formally designated Hizballah in July, on the 25th anniversary of the largest terrorist attack in Latin America’s history. On July 18, 1994, an Iranian-backed suicide bomber drove a van filled with explosives into the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Society (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people and injuring 300 others.
The U.S. State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program last year offered a reward of up to $10 million for information that helps disrupt Hizballah’s financing of terrorist activities. The program also has offered up to $7 million for information leading to the capture of the senior Hizballah operative who coordinated the AMIA bombing, Salman Raouf Salman.
The Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) funded and provided logistical support for the attack.
Hizballah remains a continuing threat with global reach. In Chile and Peru, security forces disrupted a recent terrorist plot orchestrated by Salman. Salman also served as handler for Mohammed Hamdar, a U.S.-designated Hizballah operative arrested in October 2014 for plotting an attack in Peru.
“Hizballah is first and foremost a terrorist organization, despite its attempts to falsely portray itself as a legitimate political entity,” the U.S. Treasury Department said when sanctioning Salman in July. The action “highlights Hizballah’s ongoing operational presence in the Western Hemisphere and that Hizballah continues to pose a threat to the region by actively plotting attacks against civilian targets.”