Hezbol­lah en­tered Ger­many as refugees

The Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By BEN­JAMIN WEINTHAL

Hezbol­lah com­bat­ants en­tered Ger­many since mid2015, as part of the wave of refugees from the Mid­dle East, ac­cord­ing to a Ger­man in­tel­li­gence re­port re­viewed by The Jerusalem Post.

The re­port is­sued this month shows in­creased mem­ber­ship for Hezbol­lah and Ha­mas in the Ger­man state of North Rhine-West­phalia.

“Since mid-2015 there are in­creased in­di­ca­tions of fighters from Shi’ite mili­tias en­ter­ing Ger­many as le­gal refugees,” ac­cord­ing to the in­tel­li­gence re­port. “The in­di­ca­tions re­gard­ing roughly 50% [of the fighters] show a di­rect con­nec­tion to Hezbol­lah.”

The EU pro­scribed in 2013 Hezbol­lah’s so-called mil­i­tary wing as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The in­tel­li­gence doc­u­ment

added that in “the cases in which there is no link to an or­ga­ni­za­tion, the com­bat­ants largely fought on the side of Shi’ite mili­tias against Is­lamic State in Syria and Iraq.”

The dan­ger from these Hezbol­lah mem­bers is dif­fi­cult to as­sess with­out a close ex­am­i­na­tion of the Is­lamists, the re­port said.

North Rhine-West­phalia is home to the Imam-Mahdi Cen­ter in the city of Mün­ster, which is a meet­ing place for Hezbol­lah mem­bers, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. Ad­di­tional cities where Hezbol­lah is ac­tive in North Rhine-West­phalia are Essen, Bot­trop, Dort­mund and Bad Oeyn­hausen, it con­tin­ued.

It is un­clear how many Hezbol­lah ter­ror­ists dis­guised them­selves as asy­lum-seek­ers to en­ter Ger­many.

The in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials said there is no ev­i­dence of a wave of Hezbol­lah mem­bers in Ger­many de­part­ing for war zones. Ac­cord­ing to Ger­many’s fed­eral in­tel­li­gence agency, there are 950 ac­tive Hezbol­lah op­er­a­tives in the Fed­eral Repub­lic.

North Rhine-West­phalia’s in­tel­li­gence agency re­ported an in­crease of Hezbol­lah mem­ber­ship, from 100 in 2015 to 105 in 2016. Ger­man in­tel­li­gence ser­vices de­fine Hezbol­lah mem­bers in Ger­many as part of the Le­banese Shi’ite’s or­ga­ni­za­tion’s po­lit­i­cal wing.

The North Rhine-West­phalia in­tel­li­gence agency did not de­tail the num­ber of Hezbol­lah fighters who would be sanc­tioned ter­ror­ists, dis­guised as refugees that en­tered Ger­many since mid-2015.

Lead­ing coun­tert­er­ror­ism ex­perts do not di­vide Hezbol­lah into po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary wings. The US, Canada, Is­rael and the Nether­lands clas­sify Hezbol­lah as a uni­tary ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The fed­eral in­tel­li­gence re­port noted that Hezbol­lah’s goal is the “de­struc­tion of the State of Is­rael as well as Is­lamic dom­i­na­tion over Jerusalem.”

The Post re­ported in Au­gust that Ger­man and Is­raeli law­mak­ers wrote Ger­many’s In­te­rior Min­is­ter Thomas de Maiz­ière that “it is un­ac­cept­able that ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions [Hezbol­lah and the Pop­u­lar Front for the Lib­er­a­tion of Pales­tine] in Ger­many are plan­ning events and re­cruit­ing sup­port­ers while the re­spon­si­ble author­i­ties do not have any le­gal tools to pre­vent it.”

De Maiz­ière de­clined to ban Hezbol­lah’s en­tire or­ga­ni­za­tion or the PFLP.

The in­tel­li­gence agency in North Rhine-West­phalia said it is aware of Hezbol­lah plans to carry out ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Ger­many.

The num­ber of Ha­mas mem­bers in North Rhine-West­phalia rose to 75 in 2016 from 65 in 2015. Both the US and the EU clas­sify Ha­mas as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.

It is un­clear why Ger­many’s in­te­rior min­is­ter has not de­tained Ha­mas mem­bers. Ha­mas, ac­cord­ing to the fed­eral in­tel­li­gence re­port, is rep­re­sented in Ger­many by the NGO Pales­tinian Com­mu­nity in Ger­many (PGD). Ha­mas mem­bers, wrote the re­port, ob­tain fund­ing in Ger­many via dona­tions.

State of­fi­cials said Ha­mas sup­port­ers were present at a num­ber of PGD demon­stra­tions and other events in North Rhine-West­phalia, in the cities of Dort­mund, Essen, Düs­sel­dorf, Bonn and Wup­per­tal. Ha­mas sup­port­ers use Ger­many as a lo­ca­tion to “col­lect funds” and “re­cruit new mem­bers to spread their pro­pa­ganda,” said the re­port. •

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