LEBANON’S Hezbollah has been banned by the UK in its entirety, Tory Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced yesterday.
The Lebanon-based group’s military wing is already outlawed, but the proscription will now be extended to its political arm, said the British government.
From Friday, membership will be a criminal offence carrying a maximum sentence of up to 10 years.
In a statement, Javid said: ‘Hezbollah is continuing in its attempts to destabilise the fragile situation in the Middle East – and we are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party. Because of this, I have taken the decision to proscribe the group in its entirety.’
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘We cannot however be complacent when it comes to terrorism – it is clear the distinction between Hezbollah’s military and political wings does not exist, and by proscribing Hezbollah in all its forms, the government is sending a clear signal that its destabilising activities in the region are totally unacceptable and detrimental to the UK’s national security.’
Under the Terrorism Act 2000, the Home Secretary has the power to proscribe an organisation if he believes it is ‘concerned in terrorism’.
One of the principle lines of attack on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the past is his association with members of Hezbollah’s political wing.
This measure by Javid and Hunt is considered by many to be more of an attack on Corbyn, to try to prove ‘guilt by association’ to prevent a Corbyn-led government.