Hezbollah Targeted in Bipartisan Bill

Hezbollah displays an Iranian-made Fajr 5 missile at a military parade in southern Lebanon, close to the Israeli border.
Hezbollah displays an Iranian-made Fajr 5 missile at a military parade in southern Lebanon, close to the Israeli border. (Photo: MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images)

A bi-partisan bill targeting the Iranian-backed, Lebanese terror group Hezbollah was introduced to Congress last week.

The bill, dubbed the Disarm Hezbollah Act, calls for an investigation by the director of national intelligence to assess the group’s “capabilities, arsenal, and the illicit supply routes it uses to procure weapons.”

The intelligence report will then be used to assess the effectiveness of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and detail the ways Hezbollah raises and distributes funds in the region under the noses of UNIFIL.

UNIFIL has been charged with keeping Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in check since the agreement to end the 2006 war in which the terror group attacked Israel. Hezbollah rejected that agreement and has been stockpiling weapons ever since.

“Hezbollah continues to build up its military capabilities, with tens of thousands of advanced missiles that threaten our Middle East interests and allies,” said Tom Suozzi (Democrat-New York), who co-sponsored the bill with Adam Kinzinger (Republican-Illinois).

The U.S. designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in 1997, however the European Union only designated the group as terrorists in 2013 and then only its military wing. In January, a bill was introduced into Congress urging the EU to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.

Recently, a number of amendments were added to previous legislation aimed at cutting the group’s financing. Those amendments call on the president to sanction individual and businesses involved in fundraising and recruiting for the terror group.

A recent investigation by House Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee showed Hezbollah represents “a direct threat to the homeland,” due to tensions between the U.S. and Iran over the nuclear deal and the existence of Hezbollah sleeper cells in the U.S.

“It is clear that Hezbollah has the will and capacity,” said Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.), who chaired the hearing of experts who testified in front of the House subcommittee. “Hezbollah is probably the most experienced and professional terrorist organization in the world.”

The growth of Hezbollah agents operating in the U.S. may have been further facilitated by the Obama Administration, which has been accused of squelching U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigations and arrests of Hezbollah agents to pave the way for the nuclear deal with Iran. An investigation into those allegations was ordered by U.S. Attorney-General Jeff Sessions after an expose on the subject ran in Politico in December 2017.

 

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