The inquiry’s findings move the country’s federal government one step closer to placing Hezbollah on Australia’s terror group list.
The parliamentary intelligence and security committee’s recommendation would declare all of Hezbollah a terrorist organization, not just parts of its military wing, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.
Last month, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews re-listed Hezbollah’s External Security Organization as a terror entity but failed to go further. It has been the policy of the Australian government not to list other parts of the Iranian-backed Lebanese proxy as terrorist groups.
The decision by the committee goes a step further to push the government to ban the entire Hezbollah organization.
Liberal Senator James Paterson, the committee chair, said at the meeting that the committee was “concerned by the decision to at this stage only re-list Hezbollah’s ESO.”
“In its last review of the re-listing of Hezbollah in 2018, the Committee recommended that the government consider extending the listing to include the military wing of Hezbollah,” he said. “In this report, the committee goes a step further. We recommend the government consider listing Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.”
He added that they were doing so based on expert evidence reviewed by the committee detailing that “the distinction we currently draw between Hezbollah’s ESO and the rest of Hezbollah is an arbitrary one.”
Dr Matthew Levitt, a counterintelligence expert and fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the committee in a written submission that designating all of Hezbollah as a terrorist group would “streamline” the country’s investigations into the group’s terror financing.
“It would contribute to stability in Lebanon and beyond by communicating to the group that there will be costs to continuing to engage in terrorist, militant, and illicit financial activities alongside its political activities," he said. "In the wake of the recent war between Hamas and Israel, in which thousands of Hamas rockets were fired at Israeli civilian communities and Israel felt the need to retaliate against Hamas, even when its activities were carried out from residential areas, the need to address Hezbollah is all the more critical.”