March 27, 2013
The small island nation
of Cyprus has received a lot of attention in Europe these days. With a huge
financial crisis, several governments, including France, have spoken out for a
need for European solidarity.
A few days ago
another equally important event, given the stakes involved, occurred on the
same small island. This event, too, calls for European solidarity, from
the European continent, which can no longer pretend to be ignorant of facts
claimed by the actors themselves.
I am talking
about Hezbollah, which for the first time has seen one of its members convicted
in a European court. Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, a Swedish citizen and member of
Hezbollah, was found guilty by a Cypriot court for his participation in a
criminal organization, acceptance and participation in committing a crime, and
money laundering. During his trial Yaacoub admitted that he had conducted
surveillance of Israeli tourists arriving in Cyprus, which buses they rode and
which hotels they used. "I was only collecting information on
the Jews. That's what the organization (Hezbollah) does everywhere,” he
admitted to investigators that he had been delivering packages on behalf of
Hezbollah in Turkey, the Netherlands and France. All these details are valuable
to our intelligence experts and clearly show the actions and motivations of
Hezbollah on European soil.
"It has been
proven that Hezbollah is an organization that acts in secret,” declared Tasia
Psara-Miltiadou, one the three Cypriot judges. “There is no doubt that this
group has many members and conducts many activities, including military
training of its members. Therefore, the court stated that Hezbollah is a
The judgment is
clear. It should prove to all who have expressed doubts about the nature,
targets and means of Hezbollah. It commits crimes and acts of terrorism on European
The activities of Hezbollah in Europe have increased
lately. Two weeks after Yaacoub was arrested in Cyprus, the bloody attack in
Burgas occurred. Five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver were
killed. On February 5th, Bulgarian authorities said that they hold all the
necessary proof of the full responsibility of Hezbollah in the attack.
I have called upon the French and European authorities
to act decisively. We at AJC have urged for moral clarity to finally place
Hezbollah on the EU list of terrorist organizations.
It is also important to note that Hezbollah has been
supporting Bashar Al Assad's regime by providing active support in its
murderous campaign against the Syrian people. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan
Rice has stated that Hezbollah “is now part of the Assad killing machine...and
the leaders of Hezbollah continue to conspire with Iran."
With counterfeiting, drug and weapons trafficking,
Hezbollah finances its terrorist activities. The recent events in Bulgaria and
Cyprus show that Hezbollah has established a network of terrorist cells
France has started a war against terrorism in Mali.
As François Hollande has clearly decided to fight against the terrorist
threat in France and abroad, it is important to take strong and courageous
decisions and illustrate a sense of moral clarity on all fronts.
“The European Union must be ready to draw any
conclusions,” said French President Hollande concerning the terrorist attack in
Burgas. Today, with the conviction of a member of Hezbollah in a European court, these
exact conclusions need to be drawn. It is time to act.
It is time to be a responsible actor, and to call Hezbollah what
it is. There is no doubt that Hezbollah is an international terrorist
Simone Rodan-Benzaquen is director
of the American Jewish Committee’s Paris Office.