Canberra, Nov 25: Australia said on Wednesday it intended to list all of Hezbollah as a “terrorist organization,” becoming the latest country in the world to ban the Iran-backed Shiite group. Several Western governments have designated the group as a terrorist organization. But some have been reluctant to sanction its political wing, fearing it could complicate ties with Lebanon, where the group wields considerable influence. Australia’s decision means membership of the organization or providing funding for it will now be proscribed in the country, which has a large Lebanese community. “The government has zero-tolerance for violence, and there is no cause — religious or political — that can justify killing innocent people,” Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said in a statement.
Hezbollah “continues to threaten terrorist attacks and provide support to terrorist organizations” and poses a “real” and “credible” threat to Australia, she said. Canberra also extended the ban on an existing ban on armed units of Hezbollah, which has been in place since 2003. The militant Iran-backed movement was founded in 1982 during the Lebanese civil war. The group fought another bloody war with Israel in 2006. The movement is financed and trained by Iran, from where it draws the support of the country’s Shiite community. Today, it controls much of Lebanon. The organization has long been banned by the United States and Israel. Germany followed suit in May last year, banning all its activities on German soil. However, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency estimates there are around 1,050 Hezbollah members and supporters active in the country.