PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has said Australia’s listing of Hezbollah’s political wing as a legitimate organisation is under constant review.
The comments came a week after Sheikh Bilal Radwan, a leading religious leader in Syria, said he knew of three Hezbollah cells operating in Australia.
“There are sleeper cells for Hezbollah in Australia. I warn your government about such a thing, Sheikh Radwan told The Australian.
“It is well known that they have sleeping cells like Abu Abbas, Abu Jafaar and Zaiter.
“All these are operating on the Australian ground.”
Canada, France, Israel, the United States and Netherlands have all listed the entire Hezbollah organisation as a terrorist group, but in Australia only the military wing, The Hezbollah External Security Organisation, is categorised as a terrorist organisation.
Gillard said the listing was made by the Howard government in 2003. “At the time there was some discussion about the nature of the listing,” Gillard said. “We keep these things under constant watch and review with the best of intelligence and advice.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) executive director Peter Wertheim said Australia is one of only two Western countries that makes a distinction between Hezbollah’s External Security Organisation and Hezbollah as a whole.
“In view of the ongoing terrorist activities of Hezbollah around the world, including against Jewish people and community targets in Argentina and Bulgaria, Australia should join other leading Western nations in designating the entire Hezbollah organisation as a criminal terrorist group.”
Wertheim said the ECAJ has brought the issue to the attention of federal Liberal and Labor leaders.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard