Hezbollah has explosives stored across Europe: US official

File photo of Hezbollah flag. :Several countries designated Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed, Lebanon-based Shiite group, as a “terrorist” organization.The designation covers the entirety of the group, both the political and military wings . Australian was the most recent country to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
A group of prominent French figures has called on French President Emmanuel to not block “the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation by the European Union.

NEW YORK, Sept. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Ambassador Nathan Sales, the U.S. State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Ambassador Nathan Sales revealed today that Hezbollah weapons caches, including significant stores of ammonium nitrate, have been discovered and destroyed across Europe. 

“Hezbollah is active in Europe right now” and it is important for European governments and citizens to know the extent of Hezbollah’s reach on European soil, said Sales.

“Since 2012, Hezbollah has established caches of ammonium nitrate throughout Europe by transporting first aid kits whose cold packs contain the substance,” said Sales. “I can reveal that such caches have been moved through Belgium, to France, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.  I can also reveal that significant ammonium nitrate caches have been discovered or destroyed in France, Greece, and Italy.  We have reason to believe that this activity is still underway.  As of 2018, ammonium nitrate caches were still suspected throughout Europe, possibly in Greece, Italy, and Spain.”

Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound commonly used as a fertilizer, but it can be used to make explosives. It can also be dangerous in storage, as demonstrated by the huge explosion last month in the Lebanese capital of Beirut. Hezbollah has established caches of ammonium nitrate throughout Europe according to the US ( AFP file photo. Representative image)

Sales said the only reason Hezbollah has been stockpiling ammonium nitrate on European soil “is to conduct major terrorist attacks whenever it, or its masters in Tehran, decide.”

European designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization is imperative for regional security and for Lebanon’sfuture, said Sales.

US Counterterrorism Coordinator Ambassador Nathan A. Sales

“The European approach to Hezbollah since 2013 has not worked,” said Sales. The EU in 2013 adopted a measure that bifurcated Hezbollah into “political” and “military” wings, designating only the so-called “military” component.

“There is a growing international momentum to designate or ban Hezbollah as a terrorist organization,” he said. “It is fiction that terrorist activities can be cordoned off from the other activities of Hezbollah.”

Sales noted that an increasing number of individual European states, led by Germany and the United Kingdom, are taking decisive action against Hezbollah.

The U.S., which designated Hezbollah in 1997, has maintained an approach that both combats the terrorist organization and helps Lebanon. The U.S. has invested $2 billion in Lebanon security services since 2006, and $1 billion in economic aid, he said.

“We do not believe it’s helpful to engage Hezbollah as if it is a legitimate political actor. It’s a terrorist organization that exploits the Lebanese people,” said Sales.