January 17, 2020
Britain’s finance ministry on Friday said it had added Lebanon’s entire Hezbollah movement to its list of terrorist groups subject to asset freezing.
The ministry previously only targeted the Shiite organisation’s military wing but has now listed the whole group after the government designated it a terrorist organisation last March.
The change requires any individual or institution in Britain with accounts or financial services connected to Hezbollah to suspend them or face prosecution.
“Hizballah itself has publicly denied a distinction between its military and political wings,” the Treasury said in a notice posted on its website, using an alternate spelling for the group.
“The group in its entirety is assessed to be concerned in terrorism and was proscribed as a terrorist organisation in the UK in March 2019,” it added.
“This listing includes the Military Wing, the Jihad Council and all units reporting to it, including the External Security Organisation.”
Hezbollah is a Shiite militant movement established in 1982 during the Lebanese civil war by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Its capture of two Israeli soldiers in 2006 sparked a 34-day war in which 1,200 people were killed.
The group is seen as a key component of Shiite-majority Iran’s strategy for regional influence.
Britain’s move comes amid heightened tensions in the Middle East, after the US killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in an air strike earlier this month.
Tehran retaliated by firing a volley of missiles at US troops stationed in Iraqi military bases.
Britain currently proscribes 75 international terrorist organisations under terrorism legislation passed in 2000.