TEGUCIGALPA, Jan 20 (Reuters) – The Honduran government has formally declared Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah a terrorist organization, a top security official said on Monday.
“We declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization and will include it in the registry of persons and institutions linked to acts of terrorism and its financing,” said Luis Suazo, Honduras’ deputy security minister.
Heavily armed Hezbollah, a Shi’ite Muslim group, has also been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
Last week, Guatemala’s new president, Alejandro Giammattei, also signaled he would label Hezbollah a terrorist group, in addition to keeping the Guatemalan embassy in Israel in the city of Jerusalem.
Both moves were seen as aligning Guatemala’s foreign policy more closely with that of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, called the Honduran government’s move “an important step in the global war on terror” and said it built on similar actions taken in recent months by Britain, Argentina and others.
“I applaud the Honduran government for its important decision to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization and to impose sanctions against it,” Katz said.
Israel considers Hezbollah, which is backed by its enemy Iran, the biggest threat across its border. The two last fought a war in 2006.
Britain’s Treasury, or finance ministry, said on Jan. 17 it had expanded an asset freeze to include the whole of Hezbollah in addition to its military wing.
Last year, Argentina designated the group, which it blames for two attacks on its soil, as a terrorist organisation and froze its assets in the country.
Other countries that have designate Hezbollah or its military wing as a terrorist organization include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the European Union and Israel.
(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, additional reporting by Rami Ayyub in Jerusalem; Editing by David Alire Garcia, Bernadette Baum and Timothy Heritage)