The Hezbollah terrorist group has stored industrial chemicals that can be used to make explosives across several European Union (E.U.) countries, a senior U.S. State Department official said Thursday. The warning came as pressure resumed on Europe and elsewhere to impose bans on the Iran-backed Islamist organization.
Hezbollah operatives have moved ammonium nitrate from Belgium to France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Switzerland in recent years and are suspected to still be storing the material throughout Europe, said Nathan Sales, the State Department coordinator for counter-terrorism.
Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound commonly used as a fertilizer, but it can be used to make explosives. It can also be unstable in storage, as demonstrated by the devastating explosion last month in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, as Breitbart News reported.
Sales said the U.S. believes Hezbollah has since 2012 transported ammonium nitrate around Europe in first aid kits with cold packs that contain the compound. The United States believes these supplies are still in place possibly in Greece, Italy and Spain.
“Why would Hezbollah stockpile ammonium nitrate on European soil?” he said. “The answer is clear: Hezbollah put these weapons in place so it could conduct major terrorist attacks whenever it or its masters in Tehran deemed necessary.”
Iran Warns Germany of ‘Consequences’ for Total Ban on Hezbollah https://t.co/V2FwQLgnzX
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 1, 2020
Sales made the remarks in an online forum hosted by the American Jewish Committee, which has called upon more countries to ban Hezbollah along with its violent and anti-Semitic ideology.
The E.U. lists Hezbollah’s military wing as a banned terrorist group, but not its political wing, which has been part of Lebanese governments in recent years as well as its collaboration with the Assad regime in Syria.
Some individual countries, including Germany and the U.K., have outlawed the group in its entirety. Sales called on more countries to do the same.
According to Western intelligence agencies, Iran funds Hezbollah to the tune of $200m to $300m per year in cash outlays alone, and provides an arsenal of weapons and logistical services valued at more than $700m.
AP contributed to this report