Monday, 13 January, 2020

Hezbollah pays heavy cost to secure Europe from ISIS terrorists

By: Vahid, J.

Hezbollah has proved to be a key player in the Syrian conflict and, later, in the counteroffensive against the Islamic State (ISIS).

The Lebanese Shia militia-come-political party has been fighting against ISIS in Syria and even in Iraq. Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters into Syria. Sources close to the party say between 7,000 and 10,000 members of its militants operate there.

Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, considers ISIS to be a major security threat and a Sunni extremist terror group.

“This danger does not recognize Shiites, Sunnis, Muslims, Christians or Druze or Yazidis or Arabs or Kurds. This monster is growing and getting bigger,” Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah stated in an interview with the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar in 2014.

Nasrallah also linked the threat posed by Islamic State to the spread of Wahhabism, a puritanical school of Islam followed in Saudi Arabia that demands obedience to the ruler but which has been widely blamed for fuelling Sunni radicalism.

“(ISIS) does not have borders. There is a real danger and a real fear among many states and authorities, because one of the advantages of this organisation is its capacity to recruit among followers of al Qaeda-Wahhabi thought,” he said.

Because of Hezbollah’s position against the ISIS, the U.S. and of the European Union have changed their attitude towards the group; while they had previously categorized the Shi’ite political movement within the black list of terroristic organizations.

According to the U.S. National Intelligence’s annual report in 2015, namely the “Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Communities”, both Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah have been cancelled by the list of the possible terroristic menaces for Washington D.C. To the international community, this has been an exceptional event since, throughout years, both these two actors have been considered by many Western countries and organizations as potential menaces to the international and regional security.

What Hezbollah does in Syria, also secures Europe’s security against extremist ISIS Jihadists returning to the Western nations.

One should remember that ISIS is not al-Qaeda. In its early period, ISIS was a local jihadist movement focused on grabbing territory in Iraq and Syria. At that time ISIS’s main enemy was not the US, France, Britain, or Israel. Now, that is changing, as the battle-hardened and ruthless IS jihadists return to the West with their EU and US passports.

The Associated Press reported in March that ISIS has trained at least 400 fighters to target Europe in deadly waves of attacks, deploying interlocking terror cells like the ones that struck Brussels and Paris with orders to choose the time, place and method for maximum carnage.

Rob Wainwright, director of the EU-wide law enforcement agency, predicted further attacks by ISIS following the massacres in Paris that killed 130 people in November 2015.

“Europe is currently facing its biggest terror threat in more than a decade,” he told Germany’s Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper.

Europol estimates that there are between 3,000 and 5,000 Europeans who have travelled to terrorist training camps abroad, including those run by Isis in its territories in Iraq and Syria, and returned home.

In this context, Hezbollah has become a significant obstacle to the ISIS jihadists.

Every extremist jihadist linked to ISIS who have been killed by Hezbollah, might become a potential bomb against targets in Europe in the future. In this way, Hezbollah has paid a heavy toll and costs.

But if Europeans appreciate the actions of Hezbollah or continue to insist to call it a terrorist group?

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the  views of Realiran.

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