Sunday, April 6, 2014

Germany's Relationship to Hezbollah: Why we should be concerned

A rather interesting update. Yesterday, Germany actually took action against Hezbollah's Orphan Children Project Lebanon. According to the report "Around 150 police officers searched premises across six states and confiscated cash, computers and around 40 boxes of files. Two bank accounts with a total of around 60,000 euros were frozen but no arrests were made, the German Interior ministry said." Obviously the timing of  my report was coincidental but hopefully the German's will take the next step and make arrests. 
See: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/179406#.U0U0pfmSwVY

Author's note: Last year I presented a review of possible Syrian biological warfare programs as an invited speaker by the Bundeswehr Medical Military and Microbiology Institute in Munich. As a previous participant at both their nuclear and bio-defence conferences, I was honored to be asked to deliver a talk on this subject.  The discussion, which was not sugar coated for the non-proliferation participants, touched upon the potential of Hezbollah to acquire a BW capability, either via Syria or Iran. Moreover, the central theme of my talk revolved around looting (not destruction through war) of Syrian veterinary and vaccine labs, and for which before and after photos were made available upon request.  In discussions with colleagues prior to my talk, one of the subjects repeatedly brought up was Germany's lack of initiative in listing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Some caution was urged at accepting the invitation given Germany's apparent policy issues related to Hezbollah. The EU has now listed Hezbollah, but Germany apparently was extremely hesitant to do so and resisted for some time. In reviewing Germany's relationship to Hezbollah, it is interesting to consider how their lack of initiative could compromise public health security, not only their own, but that of the international community as a whole, should Hezbollah acquire a BW capability.



www.worldpolicy.org Hezbollah
"Prior to September 11, 2001, Hezbollah murdered more Americans than any other terrorist group. Despite al-Qaeda’s increased visibility since then, Hezbollah remains a bigger, better equipped, better organized, and potentially more dangerous terrorist organization, in part because it enjoys the unstinting support of the two chief state sponsors of terrorism in the world today—Iran and Syria. Hezbollah’s threat potential led former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to dub it “the A-Team of terrorism.” "Hezbollah has developed a cooperative relationship on an ad-hoc bases with the Al-Qaeda terrorist network and several radical Palestinian groups. In June 2002, U.S. and European intelligence officials noted that Hezbollah was "increasingly teaming up with Al Qaeda on logistics and training for terrorist operations." Both Al Qeda and Hezbollah established training bases in Sudan after the 1989 coup that brought the radical National Islamic Front to power. Iran's Revolutionary Guards, which also established a strong presence in Sudan, to support the Sudanese regime, ran several training camps for Arab radical Islamic groups there and may have facilitated cooperative efforts between the two terrorist organizations."

"According to U.S. intelligence officials Hezbollah has cooperated with the terrorist network formerly lead by Abu Masab al-Zarqawi [ ]. This network officially became part of Al Qaeda in 2004. Despite Zarqawi's militantly anti-Shia views, the two groups have reportedly coordinated terrorist efforts against Israel on an ad hoc basis. Zarqawi's network, composed of Sunni extremists from Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and other countries has a strong fundraising and support infrastructure in Europe that poses a significant threat to Europeans as well as citizens from a wide range of other countries." 


See: James Phillips, "Hezbollah's Terrorist Threat to the European Union", Heritage Lectures, No. 1038, Delivered June 20, 2007, published August 28, 2007. Germany has a rather concerning history when it comes to Hezbollah. In 2005 for example they released a Hezbollah hijacker and ignored extradition requests from the United States. 



'Apparently ignoring Washington's extradition request, for Mohammed Ali Hamadi, German authorities have secretly released the Lebanese Hezbollah member who was serving a life sentence in the country for the hijacking of a TWA jet (Flight 847) and for the torture/murder of a US Navy diver (Rob Stethe). Syria is a key backer of Hezbollah and Hamadi's brother, Abdul Hadi was a senor security official of the group." See:http://www.dw.de/germany-releases-hezbollah-hijacker-wanted-by-us/a-1829531-Upon his release Hamadi rejoined Hezbollah. 1n 2010, Hamadi was reportedly killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan.  

Background 

"Hezbollah has 950 members in Germany, including 250 in the capital Berlin, a report released by Berlin's domestic intelligence agency released in September of 2013 noted. "A Hezbollah controlled orphans organization in Lower Saxony state is used to raise money for the families of suicide bombers targeting Israelis, the 140 page German language report examined by The Jerusalem Post also showed. The Lebanese terrorist organization had some 900 members in the Federal Republic in 2010, and 950 in 2011, around the same number it has now.  Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, a leading European expert on the Iranian regime and Hezbollah terrorism, told the Post on Saturday it had long been known that Berlin was 'a strong center of Hezbollah." See: http://www.jpost.com/International/German-report-Berlin-a-hub-of-Hezbollah-activity-315885 Was it only the presents of large numbers of Hezbollah in the German capital which made Germany reluctant to list the organization or were there other interests involved? In 2007 Foundation for Defence of Democracies published a report entitled: "Hezbollah's German Helpers" by Mark Dubowitz. The report notes: 

"In ignoring the threat from Hezbollah, the German government puts hope above experience. While it tries to spare German citizens from the wrath of Hezbollah, it plays down the danger of a group that seeks to destroy both Lebanese democracy and the Jewish state. In the end, this approach also compromises the safety of German citizens. On July 31, 2006, two Lebanese students, Yussuf Mohammed El Hajdib and Jihad Hamad, placed bombs hidden in suitcases on two regional trains in Germany, but they failed to go off. Germany's federal law enforcement agency concluded that a successful explosion would have resulted in a tragedy on par with the London subway attacks of July 2005. The two suspects said they wanted to take revenge for the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. - See more at: http://www.defenddemocracy.org/media-hit/hezbollahs-german-helpers/#sthash.LguTx6p0.dpuf In the past, the German government has shown strong resolve when it saw a threat to German security. It banned the Hamas "charity" al-Aqsa as well as the radical Sunni Islamist Hizb-ut Tahrir group. And it joined the EU in designating the PKK, the radical Kurdish group, as a terrorist organization." It did not, however, ban Hezbollah - See more at: http://www.defenddemocracy.org/media-hit/hezbollahs-german-helpers/#sthash.LguTx6p0.dpuf



The relationship between Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda is a worrying one for many reasons but more concerning still because the later continues to tie jihad to the responsibility to acquire and use WMD including biological weapons against Western targets. In fact Hezbollah is known to have pre-designated targets for attack across Europe. Lack of German initiative  in light of Hezbollah possibly seeking or acquiring a BW capability is disturbing at best. As the roots of this go far deeper than just a taking a non-proliferation, head in the sand approach. While one might consider that failing to acknowledge the risk to their own national populations would, unfortunately for Germany's civilian population, be primarily limited if Hezbollah were to use conventional, chemical or even small nuclear devices in German cities, unfortunately, biological weapons spread. Thus the lack of incentive to arrest and deport those suspected members of Hezbollah puts the global community at risk. In a Ynet article entitled: " Hezbollah has more missiles than most States," the article notes that in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, "outgoing US Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned against the Shiite group's arming methods and the possibility that it owns chemical and biological weapons, CNN reported Wednesday." Two months ago, an Israeli security official provided the Washington Post with a map detailing no less than 550 bunkers, 300 surveillance sites and 100 other facilities the Jewish state believes belong to Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. Most of the sites marked on the map, which appeared in the American newpaper on Wednesday are located South of the Litani River." See:http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4073768,00.html 

So, while Germany reluctantly listed Hezbollah, the potential that they posses a BW capability is slowly being acknowledged and one wonders, when BW is used in Europe, where the responsibility will fall. 





"The IDF is sounding increasingly alarmed over who might wind up with Syria's chemical and biological weapons collections after the fall of Assad. The question is when, not if. And the big question is what's going to come the day after." Eshel See: http://israelmatzav.blogspot.nl/2012/01/who-gets-chemicals.html

Recalling that several Germany companies were involved in providing dual use materials which ultimately were used for Assad's BW and CW programs. In a 2002 report, which appeared in the Middle East Quarterly entitled: "Guile, Gas and Germs: Syria's Ultimate Weapons," The author notes:


"West German companies also did their share. The first Syrian project involved setting up a production line for serial manufacturing of di-fluoro—DF, from which sarin nerve gas for binary munitions is obtained. The process involves two stages. The first requires resistance to a compound that includes chlorine, which has to be produced before the DF; and the second requires resistance to fluoride, an even more destructive component than chlorine. The processes require highly resistant industrial glass components. Syria chose two German companies to provide them: Schott and Sigri.[24]

Schott is one of the largest industrial glass manufacturers in Germany.The company's commercial name, Boresist, highlights its specialization in installations for the production of chemicals, made from glass of high durability in which boric oxide is a supplement to silicon oxide. It was this that led the SSRC to camouflage the entire operation under the name "Borosilicate Glass Project," whose components—chlorine-resistant chemical-reaction vessels and pipes—were supplied by Schott. Thus began the production of chemical weapons in Syria. A few years later—after many tons of the chlorine compound di-chloro (and from it, DF) had been manufactured—a spokesman of the Schott Glasswerke, answered critics. He explained that the company had no idea of the real purpose the Syrians had intended for the equipment Schott sold them. In competitive industries, he claimed, it was quite common for customers not to tell suppliers the reasons for their purchases.[25]
The German company Sigri demonstrated the same reluctance to ask questions. Sigri specialized in internal Teflon coatings for reaction vessels and for other instruments in the chemical industry that are made of stainless steel. The Teflon, in its optimal configuration, is fluoride-resistant, and the accumulated experience of the Sigri company had taught its engineers how to weld Teflon surfaces at various thicknesses, for every requirement. It too provided essential equipment for the Syrian production line.[26] The German companies Weber, Leifeld, Carl Schenck, Ferrostaal, and others also supplied the SSRC with mixing vessels, high-temperature furnaces, hot isostatic presses, and sophisticated mechanical instruments.[27]
The raw materials for DF production were purchased from various west European companies; conspicuous among them was, again, a German company, Gerit-van-Delden." See: http://www.meforum.org/493/guile-gas-and-germs-syrias-ultimate-weapons

Germany's stance on Hezbollah and its previous track record with Syrian CW and BW programs, leaves a lot to be desired in terms of state sponsored terrorist organizations and State WMD programs. Should Hezbollah acquire a BW capability, international public health security will be at risk. Germany would be well advised to change course on their Hezbollah and possibly AQ stance and implement policies to protect public health at the minimum. Obviously its continued tolerance of 950 core Hezbollah members in Berlin is a serious security issue which no amount of appeasement will resolve. 


Jill Bellamy is an internationally recognized expert on biological warfare and defence. She has formerly advised NATO and for the past seventeen years has represented a number of bio-pharmaceutical and government clients working on procurement strategy between NATO MS and Washington DC. Her articles have appeared in the National Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Sunday Times of London, Le Temps, Le Monde and the Jerusalem Post among other publications. She is a CBRN SME with the U.S. Department of Defence, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence Information Analysis Center and CEO of Warfare Technology Analytics, a private consultancy based in the Netherlands.




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