For years, the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, and other countries have called all of Hezbollah what it really is: a terrorist organization. The group’s self-portrayal as a legitimate Lebanese political party notwithstanding, no amount of spin or reorganization can overshadow Hezbollah’s destructive and lethal organized crime operation around the world.

But many countries grant validity to Hezbollah’s so-called political wing and look the other way when the organization raises money for one of its terror-supporting charities. An all-encompassing terrorist designation, they argue, would impede diplomatic relations with Lebanon and disrupt its fragile political equilibrium. Moreover, European countries that did label Hezbollah’s military wing in 2013 claim that this sufficiently curtailed the group’s criminal activity around the world.

AJC and the Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) have produced a fact-based analysis that makes the case for full designation. The report, titled Setting the Record Straight on Hezbollah, refutes the above-mentioned claims one by one, demonstrating how full designation strengthens Lebanon, protects the West, and promotes stability across the Middle East.

The fully-sourced report, along with additional supporting materials like the eleven factsheets found in this pamphlet, can be downloaded at

Below are the top ten findings from the report:

  1. Hezbollah and its allies gained a large majority of the popular vote in Lebanese parliamentary elections, but it is one of the most destabilizing forces within the Lebanese government. It is erroneously believed to be an effective fighting forces against the Islamic State in Lebanon, but Hezbollah’s goal is disturbingly similar to that of IS. It operates as a terrorist organization within the framework of the Lebanese political system, exploiting civilian infrastructure, residential areas, and sources of funding while undermining the country’s stability. The only way to reduce its capabilities and damaging influence is for the international community to exert pressure through full designation.

  2. Many believe the complexity of Hezbollah, including its presence in the Lebanese government and the social welfare it provides, makes full designation impossible. But all the different wings of the organization do is conceal a hybrid terrorist organization. All three wings – social welfare, armed terrorist, and political – work in synergy, using violent means to advance the group’s overarching objectives and those of its patron, Iran. Under the organization’s leadership, Hezbollah’s military wing kills civilians in Lebanon, the Middle East, and around the world. Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s political appointments in different ministries direct resources to the social welfare wing to foster goodwill, while Hezbollah politicians employ the group’s military might to brutally silence dissent within the Lebanese government.

  3. Restrictions on Hezbollah would strengthen democratic forces in Lebanon and empower its government to contain the terror group’s corrupt tactics. Overall, Lebanon ranks high on the international corruption index and occupies a spot on the watchlist of Transparency International. Hezbollah ranks particularly high on that scale. Its presence in government, its military might, its international organized crime machine, and its role as a major employer in the Shi’ite community present countless opportunities for graft.

  4. European diplomats in the past legitimized the IRA in Ireland and the ETA in Spain to keep the channels of communication open. Likewise, EU diplomats have argued that declaring Hezbollah a terrorist group would preclude diplomatic engagement with Lebanon. But that is a false comparison. For starters, the IRA and ETA sought separation, while Hezbollah seeks domination. Furthermore, countries that have designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization still maintain diplomatic relations with Lebanon to various degrees of cooperation. The United States, the Netherlands, and Canada all designated Hezbollah in its entirety and continue to support government institutions, trade relations, and humanitarian aid for Lebanon’s refugee influx, among other purposes.

  5. Though some believe Hezbollah has tried to distance itself from Iran to promote its domestic legitimacy, the Iranian regime supports the organization's activities in the region and abroad and Hezbollah, in turn, promotes Iranian interests. In fact, Iran’s investment in the organization has increased from an estimated $70-100 million per year in the 1990s to approximately $700 million in 2017. Statements by its leaders also illustrate the inextricable bond between Hezbollah and Iran. In 2016, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah explained that the organization's budget, supplies, and weapons all come from Iran. Captured on tape, Nasrallah confirmed that the organization regards itself as a “soldier” of Iran’s supreme spiritual leader.

  6. While Hezbollah calls the Middle East home, it has established an extensive terror infrastructure in Europe and regularly executes terrorist attacks on European soil. In 2012, Hezbollah bombed a bus full of Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria and attempted to carry out attacks in Cyprus. Authorities have discovered Hezbollah safe houses throughout Europe, some of which were being used to store huge quantities of chemical materials used to manufacture powerful explosives. Even when the bombs aren’t detonated, though, they’re often being traded on European soil, putting citizens at risk. In 2014, a Hezbollah arms dealer was arrested in the Czech Republic. In response, Hezbollah operatives in Lebanon held several Czech citizens hostage in exchange for his release.

  7. Banning Hezbollah’s military wing alone does not end the terrorists’ shady dealings in Europe. Since the EU’s partial 2013 designation, Hezbollah’s illicit activities have continued through trafficking, intelligence-gathering, and the development of infrastructure to carry out terror attacks. A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) project in 2016 uncovered extensive drug trafficking, money laundering, and arms dealings led by Hezbollah in the U.S., South America, France, Belgium, Germany, and Italy.

  8. If Europe is serious about combating antisemitism, it should be equally committed to defeating Hezbollah, which has adopted both classic anti-Jewish tropes and the anti-Zionist rhetoric of modern-day antisemitism. Antisemitism in itself constitutes a violation of human rights that Europe has pledged to combat under the European Convention on Human Rights. As long as Europe allows any manifestation of antisemitism, regardless of its form, it consents to the violation of human rights within its borders.

  9. Having morphed from a transnational terrorist operation into the hybrid terror organization it is today, Hezbollah is more dangerous than it has ever been before. The organization never abandoned its original goals but tweaked its timeline. Its entry into Lebanese politics was perceived by many as a first step away from its extreme ideological path, but it has only enabled the organization to pursue its goals by additional means. Hezbollah has worked hard to obscure its pan-Islamic terrorist image and create the façade of a legitimate Lebanese movement fighting against an occupying army, but its fundamentalist ideology, violence, and ties to other nefarious actors betray its true nature.

  10. Some believe that there aren’t many Hezbollah operatives in European countries. But while there is no accurate census data for the entirety of Europe, Germany has kept count. According to German government estimates, the number of Hezbollah operatives in that country alone has grown in recent years from roughly 950 to approximately 1,500 today. Operation Cassandra, an effort led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to shut down the organization’s drug trade, revealed a well-established infrastructure in Europe that is believed to include hundreds or thousands of Hezbollah operatives. Those operatives live among the Shi’ite diaspora throughout the continent, engaging in international criminal activity, drug trafficking, and money laundering. Some also gather intelligence and provide the logistical support and infrastructure required to carry out terror attacks.