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Urging European Union to Designate Hizballah as a Terrorist Organization

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H. Res. 834 and yield myself as much time as I may consume.

This important resolution urges the nations of Europe and the European Union to designate Hezbollah has a terrorist organization and to impose sanctions on it. We know from our experience with Iran that sanctions and, in fact, all diplomacy are most effective when they are multilateral--the more multilateral, the better.

We are particularly strong in such matters when we and our friends and allies in the European Union stand shoulder to shoulder. That's why Europe's seemingly inexplicable refusal to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist group has been so disappointing over the years.

Hezbollah is a charter member of the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list in the United States. It's crimes are legion, spread over many continents, and far too numerous to list here. They begin in the early 1980s with deadly bombings of the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Marine and French Army barracks in Beirut, and they have continued up to the present day. I still remember Ronald Reagan, President Reagan talking about it after so many of our marines were murdered in Lebanon.

Let me mention just a few of the other lowlights: countless kidnappings of Americans and Europeans in the 1980s and 1990s; the Khobar Towers attack that killed 19 Americans in 1996; the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy and the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, again, with multiple killings; the murders of Americans in Iraq and the training of other Iraqi militants; and countless assassinations in Lebanon, including, most likely, that of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. In 2006, Hezbollah's unprovoked murder of three Israeli soldiers caused a war, during which Hezbollah rocketed civilian targets in Lebanon and used Lebanese civilian as human shields.

Over the past 2 years, it has staged attacks from Turkey to Thailand. Today, it has forces in Syria fighting on behalf of Assad and the murderous Assad regime and helping to train Assad's thugs. In addition, this year Hezbollah twice has been directly implicated in terrorism on European Union territory--in Bulgaria, where a suicide bomber killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian, and in Cyprus, where an apparent Hezbollah terrorist attack was thwarted.

The failure of most European nations to designate Hezbollah has been based on the flimsiest of reasons; namely, that Hezbollah provides social services to the Shiite community and participates in electoral politics in Lebanon. In fact, Hezbollah takes a very novel approach to electoral politics--using a militia to intimidate voters into voting for them. By the way, it's a lesson that Hamas has learned very, very well.

But Europe's failure to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist group is not merely a problem because it accords legitimacy to a terrorist organization. Rather, it has important operational consequences as well. The failure to designate makes it more difficult to prosecute cases against Hezbollah crimes committed in Europe. It allows Hezbollah to use EU territories to fund-raise, recruit new members, propagandize, and train. And thus, the freedom Hezbollah enjoys in Europe ultimately affects non-Europeans as well. The European Union obviously will make its own decisions on this matter, but it's hard to escape the conclusion that the EU's failure to designate Hezbollah undermines both Europe's security and ours as well.

The State Department's top counterterrorism official recently said that he's ``cautiously optimistic--at last--about the prospects for an EU designation of the group.'' I hope his optimism is justified. Until it is borne out with an actual terrorist designation, however, it is important that we join the Senate in going on record as urging the European Union to make that designation, which would be so beneficial to the fight against terrorism worldwide and to our own national security.

I urge my colleagues to support this resolution, and I reserve the balance of my time.


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