July 4, 2019 | The Jerusalem Post

Increase of Hezbollah Members in German State, Says Intel Report

Chancellor Merkel refuses to outlaw terrorist entity in Germany.
July 4, 2019 | The Jerusalem Post

Increase of Hezbollah Members in German State, Says Intel Report

Chancellor Merkel refuses to outlaw terrorist entity in Germany.

The intelligence agency for Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia revealed on Thursday that the number of Hezbollah members rose in 2018.

According to the intelligence document reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, the number of Hezbollah members climbed from 105 in 2017 to 110 in 2018 in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The report wrote that “for more than 20 years, the Islamic Center (Imam-Mahdi-Zentrum) in Münster has been a platform and meeting place for Hezbollah supporters in North Rhine-Westphalia and western Germany. Other focal points: Essen/Bottrop, Dortmund and Bad Oeynhausen.”

The 363-page intelligence report, which covers threats to the security of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, referenced the Lebanese terrorist entity Hezbollah 21 times.

Hezbollah has centers in Hamburg, Berlin and Münster, according to the report.

Hezbollah’s aim “of annihilation of the state of Israel and the establishment of ‘Islamic rule’ over Jerusalem remain unchanged to this day,” wrote the intelligence agents.

The intelligence agency noted that “in order to achieve these goals Hezbollah also uses terrorist means. For years it [Hezbollah] has been responsible for attacks in northern Israel, posing a direct threat to the state of Israel.”

The intelligence agency wrote that “Hezbollah continues to be an internationally well-networked terrorist organization that endangers the foreign affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany through the use of force or preparatory acts directed at it. For this reason, and because of its activities against the idea of ​​international understanding, it is monitored by the North Rhine-Westphalia constitutional protection agency.”

The North Rhine-Westphalia agency for the Protection of the Constitution is the formal name of the state’s domestic intelligence agency – a rough equivalent to Shin Bet.

Hezbollah-affiliated associations in the state and elsewhere in Germany celebrated May, 25, 2018 as a particular holiday – the 18th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon, noted the report.

According to the document, there are 950 Hezbollah members and supporters in Germany. However, a May German intelligence from the state of Lower Saxony said the number of Hezbollah members and supporters climbed from 950 in 2017 to 1,050 in 2018.

The intelligence agents from North Rhine-Westphalia wrote in the report that presently “it cannot be assumed” in North Rhine-Westphalia that Hezbollah’s organization is “pursuing concrete plans of attacks in Europe, in particular against Israeli or Jewish targets.”

However, the intelligence officials said “there is an abstract danger… spontaneous action by individuals in a violent escalation between Israel and hostile states is still to be expected.”

The Post has previously reported based on additional German state intelligence reports that Hezbollah operatives raise funds in Germany, recruit new members and spread their antisemitic and jihadi ideology across the federal republic.

US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell has reportedly raised a full ban of Hezbollah – not merely its military wing – in every meeting with German officials. Kosovo recently decided to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton tweeted on Monday: “The U.S. commends Kosovo’s designation of Hizballah as a terrorist organization. This Iranian terror proxy continues to threaten stability in the Middle East and throughout the world. The world is recognizing Iran’s terror sponsorship and naming its chief beneficiary: Hizballah.”

Hezbollah is the main strategic partner for Iran’s regime. The US, Britain, the Netherlands, the Arab League, Canada and Israel all classify Hezbollah as a unified terrorist movement.

Germany and the EU merely banned Hezbollah’s so-called military wing in 2013. Hezbollah members and supporters are allowed to operate in Germany because the organization’s “political wing” has not been outlawed.

Post queries sent Steve Alter, a spokesman for Germany’s interior minister Horst Seehofer, declined to comment on a full ban of Hezbollah. Chancellor Angela Merkel has also staunchly refused to proscribe all of Hezbollah a terrorist entity.

This month will be the seventh anniversary of Hezbollah blowing up an Israeli tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria, resulting in the murders of five Israelis and their Bulgarian Muslim bus driver.

Benjamin Weinthal is a European correspondent at The Jerusalem Post and a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 


Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Sanctions and Illicit Finance