Germany shuts down three groups suspected of financing Hezbollah

Raids on groups accused of supporting terrorism

BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 17: Heavily-armed police stand outside an apartment building in Kreuzberg district during raids in which police arrested three suspects in connection with last year's spectacular robbery in the Gruenes Gewoelbe museum in Dresden on November 17, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. On November 25, 2019, thieves entered the museum and stole a wide variety of priceless jewels. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
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Germany announced a ban on three organisations it said were financing the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah.

Police carried out raids in seven German states on Wednesday morning.

Germany banned Hezbollah on its soil and designated it a terrorist organisation last year, a move welcomed by the US and Israel.

“Anyone who supports terrorism will not be safe in Germany,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said.

“Regardless of what guise its supporters appear in, they will not find a place of refuge in our country.”

The three associations banned are the German Lebanese Family, Humans for Humans and Give Peace.

They were accused of collecting funds for Hezbollah under the guise of humanitarian goals in Germany, and ultimately promoting attacks on Israel.

The Interior Ministry said the groups were suspected of raising funds for families of killed Hezbollah fighters.

A report this month by Berlin's intelligence services said Hezbollah was not present in Germany under its true name but had supporters who gathered donations and took part in annual demonstrations.

The seven states where raids took place reportedly included the cities of Hamburg and Bremen.

Two weeks ago, a Muslim organisation was closed for allegedly financing Hamas and other groups.

Ansaar International was accused of posing as a welfare organisation to raise funds for terrorist groups.

The bans come against the backdrop of escalating tension in the Middle East.

Hezbollah is Iran’s main regional proxy, and was founded in the 1980s to fight Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon.

The only Lebanese faction to have kept its weapons after the 1975-1990 civil war, it now has a more powerful arsenal than the Lebanese Army.

The EU designates Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist group but distinguishes between the militants and Hezbollah’s political arm.