U.K. Designates All of Hezbollah as Terrorist Group, Expanding Sanctions

After defining the military arm of Hezbollah as a terrorist group in 2019, move expands sanctions and asset freezing to include organization's political branch

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters via a screen during a funeral ceremony rally to mourn Qassem Soleimani, Lebanon, January 5, 2020.

Britain's Treasury said it has designated the entire Hezbollah organization as a terrorist group under its Terrorism and Terrorist Financing rules, and as such its assets will be frozen.

Previously it was only Hezbollah's Military Wing which was subject to asset freezing under U.K. government rules.

In February of 2019, Britain said it would ban Hezbollah, adding the Lebanese Shi'ite group in its entirety to its list of banned terrorist organizations.

London had already proscribed Hezbollah's external security unit and its military wing in 2001 and 2008 respectively, but now wants to outlaw its political arm too.  

"Hezbollah is continuing in its attempts to destabilize 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," Home Secretary (interior minister) Sajid Javid said. 

Hezbollah, a heavily armed group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, was established in 1982 by Iran's Revolutionary Guards and is an important part of a regional Tehran-led alliance known as "the axis of resistance".

In December the German parliament approved a motion urging Chancellor Angela Merkel's government to ban all activities by the Iran-backed group on German soil, citing its "terrorist activities," especially in Syria.

The motion was backed by Merkel's conservatives, their Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners and the opposition Free Democrats. It is not binding but will increase pressure on the government to act.

The motion said Germany should ditch its current policy of distinguishing between Hezbollah's political arm and military units, which have fought alongside President Bashar Assad's army in Syria.

The motion praised government efforts to take action against Hezbollah supporters suspected of raising funds for the Lebanese Shi'ite group in Germany, mainly by giving prosecutors more investigative powers. But it said those measures were not enough.