Three years ago this month, Hezbollah blew up a bus of tourists in Bulgaria. The European Union then banned the military wing of Hezbollah. But despite both being blacklisted by Brussels and being heavily invested in the Syrian war, Hezbollah continues to plot attacks around the world, with a particular focus on Europe.
Recent Hezbollah plots were exposed as far afield as Peru and Thailand, but the latest plot was thwarted in Cyprus, where Hussein Bassam Abdallah, a dual Lebanese-Canadian citizen, stockpiled 8.2 tons of ammonium nitrate, a popular chemical explosive. Last week, Abdallah pled guilty to all eight charges against him—including participation in a terrorist group (read: Hezbollah), possessing explosives, and conspiracy to commit a crime. It was the second time in three years that a Cypriot court has sentenced a Hezbollah operative to prison for plotting an attack in Cyprus. But this latest plot is different, in part because it reveals that the EU’s warning to Hezbollah not to operate on European soil have not dissuaded the group at all.
Back in July 2012, Cypriot authorities watched Hussam Yaacoub, a dual Lebanese-Swedish Hezbollah operative, conduct surveillance of Israeli tourists and arrested him in his hotel room a few hours later (he was ultimately convicted and jailed). A few days later, a group of Hezbollah operatives—one of them a French citizen—blew up a bus of Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria. Brussels was faced with the reality that Hezbollah was dispatching European operatives to carry out operations on European soil.