Federal Government has listed the Lebanese Shia party Hezbollah and neo-Nazi organisation The Base as terrorist organisations.
The designations make it a criminal offence to be a member of The Base or Hezbollah. Anyone guilty of terrorist organisation offences, including being a member, recruiting, receiving training or acquiring funds for a terrorist organisation can face imprisonment for up to 25 years.
Hezbollah is based in Lebanon and functions as a Shia Islamist political party and a militant group, which has formed alliances with Iran and Syria.
Security experts have warned Hezbollah’s international network is expanding in size and influence, but prefers covert operations rather than direct conflict, reported ABC News.
Until now Australia has only listed the group’s External Security Organisation (ESO) on the terrorist list, exempting its military and political wings. Adding the entirety of Hezbollah to the list – including the political wing that has government representation – may complicate aid flowing to Lebanon, which is beset by a political and economic crisis.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Hezbollah was providing support to other terrorist organisations in the region, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
Last year, Hezbollah vowed revenge for a US drone strike that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Solemaini.
The Federal government’s bipartisan committee on intelligence and security has also recommended the entirety of Palestinian group Hamas be listed as a terror organisation.
Further, Minister Andrews described the white supremacist group The Base as “a violent, racist and neo-Nazi organisation” known to be planning attacks in several nations.
The Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, Senator James Paterson has welcomed the announcement by the Morrison government to list the entirety of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, as well as the neo-Nazi organisation The Base.
The decision acts upon the unanimous bipartisan recommendation of the PJCIS in its report in June that the existing listing of Hezbollah’s External Security Organisation be expanded to cover all of Hezbollah.
Senator Paterson said,
“This decision sends the strong message that Australia has zero-tolerance for terrorism and stands shoulder to shoulder with like-minded partners around the world who also list Hezbollah in its entirety. Australians will be safer thanks to this decision by the Morrison government.”
Earlier this year, the ABC report revealed The Base was actively targeting men as young as 17 for recruitment in Australia.
The Base group was formed in 2018 and has sought to establish terrorist cells in several nations in an attempt to establish a fascist, white ethno-state.
In the United States, several men linked to the group were being prosecuted for offences including conspiracy to murder. The far-right group was already designated a terrorist organisation in Canada and the United Kingdom.