WASHINGTON – Despite continuous warnings by the United States and Israel, the European Union still refuses to include Hezbollah on its terror watch-list and as a result, the Shiite militia's activities on the continent, both overt and covert, are increasing in a disconcerting rate.
According to a recent US intelligence report, thousands of Hezbollah members and supporters operate within the EU and raise money for its Beirut-based leadership.
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According to the New York Times, despite the insistence of Washington and Jerusalem – which maintain that Hezbollah is backed by Iran – the European Union refuses to treat it as anything other than a Lebanese political and social movement.
According to the report, while the group is believed to operate all over Europe, Germany seems to be the center of activity, with 950 known members and supporters as of 2011, according to Germany’s domestic intelligence agency.
Hezbollah has maintained a low profile in Europe since 9/11, and while the various European security services have been keeping tabs on Hezbollah supporters, US experts claim that they have no real way to track sleeper cells, which are considered a top threat to homeland security – regardless of where they are.
"There is no consensus among the EU member states for putting Hezbollah in the terrorist-related list of the organizations," Cyprus's Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, told the newspaper.
"Should there be tangible evidence of Hezbollah engaging in acts of terrorism, the EU would consider listing the organization."
Cyprus currently serves as EU presidency.
Hezbollah's main operations on the continent are fundraising and lobbying – and should the EU blacklist the group, its assets would be seized and frozen.
Hezbollah Chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah was recently quoted as saying that such a move "would destroy Hezbollah."
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