Lebanon lobby group backs ban on Hezbollah
Canadian decree meets 'human rights' test
Stewart Bell - National Post  http://www.nationalpost.com/national/

Monday, December 16, 2002

An organization representing Lebanese-Canadians said yesterday it "strongly supported" Ottawa's decision to outlaw Hezbollah, the radical Islamic terrorist group based in Beirut.

The Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation said Hezbollah spearheads armed militias that control parts of Lebanon through "fanaticism, imported radical ideologies, as well as violence and intolerance." The Toronto-based group said in a statement it "strongly supported the Canadian government in listing Hezbollah on the terrorists list."

"The Canadian decree has fulfilled all the needed Canadian judicial and human rights criteria."

Wayne Easter, the Solicitor-General, and Bill Graham, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced last week that Canada had banned the activities of Hezbollah under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The decision was criticized by some Arabs, and the Lebanese government has demanded that Canada justify the decision to outlaw what it called a legitimate political party engaged in "resistance" against Israel.

But Canadian authorities said Hezbollah was engaged in international terrorism and pointed to recent speeches by Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, calling suicide bombings moral and threatening worldwide bloodshed.

Security agencies are particularly concerned about Hezbollah's growing ties to al-Qaeda.

Although Hezbollah represents Shi'ite Muslims and al-Qaeda is a Sunni organization, there is evidence the two terror networks are planning co-ordinated attacks against the West in the event of a war in Iraq. An al-Qaeda terrorist who pleaded guilty in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania testified he had set up a meeting between bin Laden and a Hezbollah chief "at which it was agreed that Hezbollah would provide explosives training."

More recently there have been reports of a summit between al-Qaeda and Hezbollah agents in the Triple Frontier region of South America where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay intersect.

The New York Times reported this weekend that Assad Ahmad Barakat, a Hezbollah "enforcer and money launderer" who shipped money to Hezbollah accounts in Canada and the U.S., had been arrested in Brazil.

Authorities raided his shop in Paraguay and found, among the items, a letter from Hezbollah acknowledging receipt of US$3,535,149 from Barakat in 2000, the American newspaper said.

Mr. Graham had insisted for weeks that Canada would not ban Hezbollah because it was involved in political and social work. But he reversed his position last week.

The Cabinet order makes it a Criminal Code offence to assist Hezbollah, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.

Hezbollah's assets have also been frozen.

Fifteen other terrorist organizations, most of them part of al-Qaeda, are also banned.

The Canadian Lebanese federation is a Toronto-based coalition opposed to the government in Beirut, what it considers the occupation of Lebanon by Syria and the lack of basic democratic rights and freedoms in Lebanon.

sbell@nationalpost.com

Copyright 2002 National