Bulgarian authorities yesterday accused Hezbollah of perpetrating a bombing that killed six people last summer, a finding that should lead to a reversal of the European Union’s policy of appeasement towards the Lebanon-based terrorist group. Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov announced the long-awaited results of the investigation into the July 18, 2012, bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver in the Black Sea resort city of Burgas.
The EU for many years has dragged its feet on U.S. and Israeli requests to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization despite its long history of targeting Americans, Israelis, Europeans, Lebanese, and other Arabs with terrorist attacks. Although individual EU members such as the Netherlands have declared Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization subject to sanctions, the 27-member EU has refused to do so, in large part due to the opposition of France and Germany.
The EU up until now has maintained its ostrich-like head in the sand due to a mistaken belief that ignoring Hezbollah’s bloody record of terrorism would spare it from Hezbollah’s attacks. But the Burgas bombing has exploded that presumption. It appears that Iran is willing to take increasing risks in its escalating shadow war with Israel and is using Hezbollah as a proxy.
EU officials also cling to a false dichotomy that mistakenly absolves Hezbollah’s “political wing” for the atrocities committed under its orders by the “military wing.” This enables them to turn a blind eye to the activities of Hezbollah cells that have taken root among Lebanese immigrants in Europe, including an estimated 950 known Hezbollah members in Germany alone.
European security officials maintain that most Hezbollah activity in Europe is focused on fundraising. They claim that Hezbollah militants have kept a low profile since an eruption of terrorist attacks in the 1980s linked to an Iranian-inspired campaign of terrorism against European countries perceived to be tilting toward Iraq in the 1980–1989 Iran–Iraq war. But Hezbollah fundraising cells could quickly morph into active terrorist cells, like stem cells that can evolve to undertake other functions.
Iran, which created Hezbollah and is its chief patron and puppet master, also may activate Hezbollah cells to do its dirty work in the event of an Israeli or U.S. attack on its nuclear infrastructure. Members of Iran’s Quds Force—the elite unit within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—work closely with Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. Iran also has used Hezbollah proxies to target Israelis for more than three decades.
In 1983, Hezbollah terrorists working with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards bombed the U.S. Marine Barracks and the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, and in 1996 they collaborated to bomb U.S. servicemen at the Khobar Towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia. Before 9/11, Hezbollah was responsible for the deaths of more Americans than any other terrorist group and was dubbed “the A-Team of terrorism.”
Given Hezbollah’s bloody record, a change in the EU’s policy is long overdue. The White House issued a statement calling for stronger action: “We call on our European partners as well as other members of the international community to take proactive action to uncover Hizballah’s infrastructure and disrupt the group’s financing schemes and operational networks in order to prevent future attacks.”
The EU can no longer afford to ignore Hezbollah’s festering threat. The longer the EU balks at effective action, the stronger the potential threat grows—funded by the free flow of donations, diverted charitable funds, and criminal booty out of the EU including payments for drugs smuggled into the EU.
As Winston Churchill observed, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” The Hezbollah crocodile has eaten half of Lebanon and has laid dangerous eggs around the world. The EU must take proactive action to protect its own citizens and its allies instead of waiting for these eggs to hatch.