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Germany Does Not Ban Hezbollah TV

Islamist channel Al-Manar has been subjected to a prohibition that does not really prohibit anything.

by
John Rosenthal

Bio

November 26, 2008 - 12:05 am
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It should be noted that to date reports on the supposed “ban” only make reference to the declarations of Interior Ministry spokespersons. No text of the November 11 administrative order appears yet to have been made public. No such text has been published on the Ministry website or in the latest editions of the German Federal Law Gazette [Bundesgesetzblatt]. As laws are not ordinarily supposed to be kept secret, this would mean that no such order has in fact yet been promulgated.

Hezbollah is not treated as a terrorist group by the German government and the German foreign intelligence service, the BND, is well known to maintain good relations with the organization. It is thus that the BND served as mediator in the negotiations that led to the release by Israel earlier this year of convicted murderer Samir Kuntar and four Hezbollah fighters in exchange for the bodies of Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

According to the German domestic intelligence service, the Verfassungsschutz, some 900 known Hezbollah militants are present in Germany. Interior Minister Schäuble himself cited this figure in the aftermath of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war. Responding to a report in the German daily Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Schäuble admitted at the time that the some 6,000 persons evacuated from Lebanon to Germany during the war may well have included many Hezbollah members.

In a recent interview with the German television news magazine Report München, Amir Kulic of the University of Tel Aviv estimated that the real number of Hezbollah militants in Germany must be four to five times greater than the number given by the German Verfassungsschutz. According to an Israeli indictment, the suspected Hezbollah agent Khaled Kashkush received his marching orders from leading members of the German Hezbollah network. (See here from Ynet news.) Kashkush was arrested at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport in July after flying from Frankfurt.

German terrorism experts have spoken of an implicit or “secret” non-aggression pact between Germany and Hezbollah, which permits the latter to operate freely in Germany so long as it refrains from undertaking armed actions on German territory itself. Investigations by Report München revealed that Hezbollah-linked groups are even able to raise funds in Germany in the form of tax-deductible charitable contributions.

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John Rosenthal writes on European politics and transatlantic security issues. You can follow his work at www.trans-int.com or on Facebook here.
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