German police mount dawn raids on mosques - Hezbollah declared "terrorists"

German police conducted dawn raids on Thursday targeting mosque associations in four cities, Dortmund and Muenster in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, as well as Bremen and Berlin, Reuters reports.

Germany has now banned all Iran-backed Hezbollah activity on its soil and designated it a terrorist organisation, the Interior Ministry said immediately after the raids.

Security officials believe up to 1,050 people in Germany are part of Hezbollah’s extremist wing.

Israel and the United States had been pushing Germany to ban the organisation. Germany had previously distinguished between Hezbollah’s political arm and its military units, which have fought alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s army in Syria.

“This is a welcome, much-anticipated, and significant German decision,” said American Jewish Committee head David Harris.

“We now hope other European nations will take a close look at Germany’s decision and reach the same conclusion about the true nature of Hezbollah,” said Harris.

The EU classifies Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist group, but not its political wing.

Last December, Germany’s parliament approved a motion urging Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to ban all activities by Hezbollah on German soil, citing its “terrorist activities” especially in Syria.

On a trip to Berlin last year, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped Germany would follow Britain in banning Hezbollah.

Britain introduced legislation in February of last year that classified Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation.

"We are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party,” said then Home Secretary Sajid Javid. “Because of this, I have taken the decision to proscribe the group in its entirety.” Anyone in the UK expressing support for Hezbollah could in future face a prison sentence of 10 years.

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