U.S. Official 'Cautiously Optimistic' on EU Sanctions against Hizbullah

A U.S. State Department official has expressed a cautious optimism at prospects for a European designation of Hizbullah as a terrorist organization.

“We've been engaging with our partners in Europe, and we are cautiously optimistic about the prospects for an EU designation of the group,” the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism, Daniel Benjamin, said in an address at the Brookings Institution on Tuesday.

He said: “We’ve been regularly working with our partners in other regions and countries where Hizbullah has a significant presence and infrastructure, including in Southeast Asia, South America, and West Africa.”

“We’re pleased with the progress we’re making and will continue to take action so Hizbullah recognizes that its behavior is unacceptable and it can no longer operate with impunity, both at home and abroad.”

Later speaking to the Jerusalem Post, Benjamin said the U.S. has been sharing information with European counterparts on Hizbullah’s alleged increased activities in their region.

His remark came against the backdrop of a reported U.S. pressure on Europe to ban Hizbullah.

John Brennan, the White House's top counterterrorism adviser, said in October that the actions of European countries against Hizbullah had not been sufficient and that they needed to brand the party a terrorist group.

“Failure to designate Hizbullah as a terrorist organization makes it harder to defend our countries and protect our citizens,” he said during a speech in Ireland.

“Without international recognition of and action against Hizbullah’s terrorism, the group will continue to operate with impunity and it will be able to raise funds that enable its terrorist activity,” he said.

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