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UK Decision Banning Hezbollah Could Hamper Terror Group’s Ability to Raise Money

The decision of the British Home Office earlier this week to ban the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah in its entirety could affect the organization’s capacity to raise money, The Jewish Chronicle reported Wednesday.

The most visible effect of the ban will be the absence of Hezbollah flags at the annual Quds Day marches.

According to the Chronicle, however, it is the financial ramifications of the ban that will truly squeeze Hezbollah. The terrorist group, which is largely funded by Iran, saw that flow of money cut sharply due to United States sanctions imposed on Tehran last year. In recent years, Israeli intelligence estimated Iran has been giving its Lebanese proxy $1 billion annually. It is believed that the amount was cut by more than half in 2018.

The reduction in funding from Iran comes at a time when Hezbollah has had to meet growing expenses due to the thousands of its fighters who have been killed or injured fighting in Syria. Hezbollah was forced to deny that it would use government funds to help the families of its dead and wounded when an allied politician was appointed Health Minister last month.

In addition to the funds provided by  Iran, Hezbollah raises money through drug smuggling and money laundering.

However, given London’s role as a major banking center, the British government’s decision to ban Hezbollah could provide authorities with means to block transactions with the terrorist group’s accounts.

Israeli officials, according to the Chronicle, also hope that the ban will boost Israeli efforts to show that Hezbollah is a significant player within Lebanon’s government and security services. Israel, in recent years, has been trying to convince Western officials that aid to Lebanon also strengthens Hezbollah.

Though the Labour Party, which is headed by Jeremy Corbyn, who has referred to Hezbollah as his “friends,” said that it opposed the ban, the House of Commons approved the ban Tuesday.

[Photo: DAVID HOLT / Flickr ]