The domestic intelligence agency for Australia does not object to designating the entire Lebanese movement Hezbollah a terrorist organization, according to a Sydney newspaper report.
Hezbollah members hold flags marking Resistance and Liberation Day, in Kfar Kila near the border with Israel, southern Lebanon, May 25, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS/AZIZ TAHER)
The domestic intelligence agency for Australia does not object to designating the entire Lebanese Hezbollah movement as a terrorist organization, according to a recent Sydney newspaper report.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Mike Burgess, head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, the formal name for the country’s domestic intelligence agency, said “A key point I can make… is that, for me, our ability to do our job is not impacted if the listing was broadened and that’s ASIO’s input into a conversation.”
He added that “I agree that the mere fact of a group being listed does give law enforcement another lawful means by which they can deal with problems that we’re seeing in our society.”
According to the author of the article, Nick Bonyhady, “Australia‘s domestic spy agency has no opposition to the country listing Lebanese militant group and political party Hezbollah as a terrorist entity, in a major development that could lead to the entire organization being blacklisted.”
The newspaper report said the Australian Parliament’s Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is assessing whether to proscribe a full terror designation for the Lebanese Shi’ite organization.
Australia has merely outlawed Hezbollah’s “External Security Organization,” which has carried out terrorist attacks outside of Lebanon.
Iran plays a critical role in financing Hezbollah. The United States government under both Republican and Democratic administrations has defined Iran’s regime as the world’s worst state-sponsor of global terrorism.
There has been a growing international consensus over the years among many democracies that Hezbollah’s entire organization is a full-blown terrorist movement. Last year, Germany along with Austria classified Hezbollah’s entire organization a terrorist entity.
The US, Canada, the Arab League, Japan, the Netherlands, Britain, Honduras, Argentina and other European and Latin American countries have also proscribed Hezbollah’s entire movement a terrorist organization.
France, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union have only banned the so-called military wing of Hezbollah. Hezbollah’s leadership itself concedes it is a unified organization that can’t be divided into military and political wings.
Hezbollah’s deputy leader Naim Qassem has said that “We do not have a military wing and a political wing.” In 2009, he told the Los Angeles Times that “The same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work also leads jihad actions in the struggle against Israel.”
According to the Herald’s summary of officials from the Australian Federal Police, Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Defence, they spoke in “general terms” and, according to their presentations, “their work in Lebanon would be affected if the government listed Hezbollah but said those risks could be managed.”