Caches of ammonium nitrate belonging to the Iran-backed, Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah had recently been found across Europe according to an official at the U.S. State Department on Thursday.
Nathan Sales, Coordinator for Counterterrorism, told audience members on a conference call held by the American Jewish Committee that caches have been moved through Belgium to France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, as well as ammonium nitrate caches having been discovered or destroyed in France, Greece and Italy.
“We have reason to believe that this activity is still underway,” Sales noted. “As of 2018, ammonium nitrate caches were still suspected within Europe, possibly in Greece, Italy and Spain.”
The reason for these caches is clear, according to Sales: ”It can conduct major terror attacks whenever its masters in Tehran deem it necessary.”
Sales described how the European Union was successful at removing the military wing of Hezbollah but failed to act on removing its political wing.
By removing only the armed aspects from European countries and influence it only appears that Hezbollah is no longer a threat, but the reality is that the threat remains.
If the political influence of Hezbollah and its sympathizers remains in Europe and the money from the countries still flows to Tehran via back door deals, then the potential for a terrorist attack remains high.
“Hezbollah continues to see Europe as a vital platform for its operational, logistical, and fundraising activities,” Sales said. “And it will continue to do so until Europe takes decisive action.”
The explosion in Beirut last month is thought to have resulted from a cache of stored ammonium nitrate at the port controlled by Hezbollah but the intelligence reports still have yet to conclude the mechanics of an accidental explosion.
Other, independent analysts fingered the explosion as a cover for a planned detonation of Iranian rocket fuel due to the type and characteristics of the plume.