Honduras becomes latest country to designate Hezbollah terror orginsation

Honduras and Guatemala follow Argentina and Paraguay in making the designation.
Tuesday 21/01/2020
Honduras' President Juan Orlando Hernandez speaks during a news conference at the Presidential House in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, August 19. (Reuters)
Honduras' President Juan Orlando Hernandez speaks during a news conference at the Presidential House in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, August 19. (Reuters)

LONDON - Honduras became the latest country to officially designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, the Central American nation’s deputy security minister Luis Suazo announced on Monday. 

The announcement followed a statement by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández on Twitter in which he described the threat of their "transnational organised crime."

"Tomorrow, coinciding with the Third Ministerial Conference Against Terrorism in the Western Hemisphere, the National Defense and Security Council of Honduras will designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization as part of our security policy expressed in specific actions throughout my government," Hernández wrote on Twitter January 20. 

Hernandez said the announcement was the “culmination of security policies expressed over several years” and in line with a previous announcement that would see Guatemala follow suit in designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. 

Guatemalan president Alejandro Giammattei announced his decision during a visit to Israel in December. 
“The decision will take effect as soon as I take office, as part of the security cooperation with Israel, and will include all aspects of Hezbollah, including the economic one,” then president-elect Giammattei told Israel’s Hayom newspaper.

Honduras and Guatemala follow Argentina and Paraguay in making the designation, in what many view as part of a broad campaign of US pressure against the Iran-backed group. 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with other Latin and Central American ministers January 20 in Bogota, Columbia, as part of a US push to convince southern hemisphere countries to take stronger action against declared terrorist groups like Hezbollah. 

“We’re concerned that [Venezuelan President] Maduro has extended safe harbour to a number of terrorist groups… as well as supporters and sympathisers of Hezbollah," Ambassador Nathan Sales, coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department, told the Miami Herald. 

Hezbollah has been accused of carrying out terrorist attacks in South America, including an attack on the AMIA Jewish centre in Buenos Aires in 1994 which resulted in the death of 85. 

Alberto Nisman, a Jewish Argentinian prosecutor who served as special prosecutor into the 1994 attack was assassinated in 2015 shortly before he was meant to testify about Iranian activities in Argentina. Nisman had accused Iran and Hezbollah of being involved in the bombing. 

“The threat is still very much with us. We know that Hezbollah operatives and facilitators and finance leaders are active in the tri-border region (between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay)” Sales said. 

“We’ve seen Hezbollah presence across the hemisphere. That’s one of the reasons why the United States wanted to partner with our hemispheric colleagues... to remind them, to remind the world, that Iranian-backed terrorism is a problem here at home too.”