Colombia said Sunday it is monitoring the activities there of the Hezbollah organization, accusing it of having conducted criminal activities, AFP reports.
“Two months ago we had to deal with a situation where we had to organize an operation to capture and expel two criminals commissioned by Hezbollah with the intention of committing a criminal act in Colombia,” Defense Minister Diego Molano was quoted as having said in an interview with the daily El Tiempo.
He provided no details of the government operation but the newspaper, citing sources in Colombia's military intelligence services, said the Lebanese organization was spying on American and Israeli businessmen in Colombia.
Molano said there was a “risk with Hezbollah in Venezuela and what its links to drug traffic or terrorist groups on the Venezuelan side (of the border) could generate for national security.”
Hezbollah has been reported to have a presence in Venezuela and other Latin American countries and Colombia has accused its neighbor Venezuela of sheltering and supporting guerrillas fighting against Bogota.
Colombia is one of three Latin American countries, alongside Honduras and Guatemala, to have blacklisted Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
In 2013, the European Union blacklisted Hezbollah's “military wing” as a terrorist organization, while failing to blacklist the group’s political arm. Some individual countries in Europe, however, have blacklisted the entire group as a terrorist organization.
Germany last year issued a federal order outlawing Hezbollah in the country, and also took enforcement measures under the provisions of the order.
The order prohibits any contact with members of the organization and does not differentiate between its various arms - military, political or social. According to the order, any use of the organization's symbols and the organization's assets in Germany, if any, would be banned.
In March of 2019, the British government designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Last year, Britain's finance ministry added the entire Hezbollah organization to its list of terrorist groups subject to asset freezing.
In November of 2020, Slovenia joined the list of countries to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
This past February, the Liguria Regional Council in Italy designated Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.
Earlier this year, Austria amended its Symbols Act, which prohibits the use of the symbols of terrorist groups, and stipulated that all arms of Hezbollah are considered terrorist organizations.