Counter-terrorism study reports Hezbollah-Quds Force threat “eclipsed that of al-Qaida”. Their violence targets Israeli officials & tourists.
BERLIN – The head of the Washington Institute’s Stein Program on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence, Dr. Matthew Levitt, on Wednesday issued a report detailing the intensified and reorganized collaboration between Hezbollah and Iran’s Quds Force to commit terror acts against Western countries and Israel.
According to the report, “the Hezbollah-Quds Force threat has sometimes eclipsed that of al-Qaida.“ The 17-page study notes that “Iranian decision-makers settled on a campaign of violence based on a three-tiered threat stream targeting the following: Israeli tourists, government figures (diplomats, retired officials), and targets broadly representative of Israel or the Jewish community (community leaders, prominent Israeli companies).”
Levitt wrote that Iran’s leaders “assigned the task of targeting Israeli tourists – a soft target – to Hezbollah, and maintained for the Quds Force operations targeting Israeli, American, British, or Gulf States’ interests. The latter would be carried out by a new special external operations unit known as Unit 400.”
The report comes shortly before the slated release this week of the results of the Bulgarian authorities investigation into the suicide bombing of an Israeli tour bus in July 2012. The terror act resulted in the deaths of five Israelis, a Bulgarian bus driver, and injuries to over 30 Israelis. US and Israeli intelligence officials attributed the suicide bombing to a joint Iran- Hezbollah operation.
Levitt, widely considered the leading authority on Hezbollah’s global operations, says that, “In January 2010, the Quds Force – the elite unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – decided that it and Hezbollah, its primary terrorist proxy, would embark on a new campaign of violence targeting not only Israel, but the US and other Western targets as well.”
The United States designated Hezbollah and the IRGC as foreign terrorist organizations.
The European Union has declined to include both groups on its EU terror list.
Levitt notes that “The net effect of Iran’s shadow war against the West is that Hezbollah and the Quds Force have climbed back up the list of immediate threats facing the United States and its allies.”
He quotes the director of the US National Counter-terrorism Center, Matthew Olsen, who said in July, “We’re seeing a general uptick in the level of activity around the world,” adding that “both Hezbollah and the Quds Force have demonstrated an ability to operate essentially globally.”
Counter-terrorism experts at a one-day conference in London last week on the Iranian threat organized by think tanks The Henry Jackson Society and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, argued for an EU designation of Hezbollah.
Writing in the British daily The Times last week, Lord David Trimble, along with former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, stated “Hezbollah is already present and active on European soil; its illegal activities and networks cover the continent. It has shown that it is willing to strike in Europe. That is why European governments must move now to stigmatize Hezbollah and its activities, vision and goals. Hezbollah is not the Party of God; it is the Party of Terror and we should treat it as such.
Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=302013