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UK criminalises support for Hezbollah

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UK criminalises support for Hezbollah
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Britain has made it a criminal offence for anyone in the UK to support Hezbollah after the group was added to the “terrorist” organisations list on Monday.

UK home secretary Sajid Javid said he could no longer distinguish a difference between Hezbollah’s political and military arm.

“Hezbollah is continuing in its attempts to destabilise the fragile situation in the Middle East – and we are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party. Because of this, I have taken the decision to proscribe the group in its entirety.

Anyone with links to the group could face jail terms of up to 10 years.

The Iranian-backed Lebanese group has already had its military arm banned in the UK since 2008, but the announcement on Monday will add political affiliation to the same category as those bearing arms under the Hezbollah banner.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement that the changes do “not change our ongoing commitment to Lebanon”.

“We are staunch supporters of a stable and prosperous Lebanon,” Hunt said.

“We cannot however be complacent when it comes to terrorism – it is clear the distinction between Hezbollah’s military and political wings does not exist, and by proscribing Hezbollah in all its forms, the government is sending a clear signal that its destabilising activities in the region are totally unacceptable and detrimental to the UK’s national security.”

Hezbollah is already listed as a “terrorist” group in the US, Canada and Israel.

Members of the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have blacklisted the Lebanese group.

Lebanon currently has three Hezbollah ministers in government.