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Reason #25442 for the EU to Blacklist Hezbollah

The outcome of a terrorism trial in Cyprus may up the pressure

Adam Chandler
February 20, 2013
Nicosia Skyline(Wikipedia)
Nicosia Skyline(Wikipedia)

A trial happening right now in Cyprus may have huge ramifications for the future of the European Union and its relationship with Hezbollah.

The trial is currently subject to a media blackout–not a real one, but one that exists because the trial is taking place in Cyprus–but it involves a man named Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, who is being accused of acting a courier for Hezbollah as it sought to find Israeli targets to attack within Europe.

But he was arrested in July with the license plates of buses ferrying Israelis written in a small red notebook. He said that he wrote them down because one of the license numbers, LAA-505, reminded him of a Lamborghini sports car, while the other, KWK-663, reminded him of a Kawasaki motorcycle.

The Cypriot police arrested Mr. Yaacoub on July 7. Less than two weeks later, a busload of Israelis was blown up in Burgas on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, killing five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver. This month, Bulgarian officials announced that evidence pointed to Hezbollah as being behind the attack.

While the trial here on this little Mediterranean island has received little public attention, the stakes are high both for Hezbollah and the European Union, which has thus far resisted following Washington’s lead and declaring the militant group a terrorist organization. Experts say that a conviction here in Cyprus could put even more pressure on the bloc for a designation.

With any luck, a guilty verdict will finally convince the EU that it’s time to stop being polyannaish (or even polyamorous) about Hezbollah’s military and political wings, which are one and the same.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.