Salafi-jihadi extremism has been considered a security threat in Europe for a long time, but Shia radical groups have shockingly been underestimated by many Western countries.
The main organizations are the Lebanese Hezbollah party, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and several Shia militias from Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and other countries.
Among the countries that have been the most decisive about Hezbollah’s nature are the US, the UK, The Netherlands, Japan, and Canada who have all blacklisted the group.
Recently, Serbia also blacklisted Hezbollah, as a concession to Israel and the US within the framework of negotiations with Kosovo mediated by Washington.
Other countries have been more reserved. In 2013, the European Union blacklisted the military wing of Hezbollah, but various EU member states have determined their own individual classifications.
In Spain, the centrist liberal party Ciudadanos pushed for the terrorism designation, but it has yet to be approved.
In September 2020, a Bulgarian court sentenced in absentia two Hezbollah operatives to life imprisonment for blowing up a tour bus in July 2012 in Burgas, killing five Israelis and their Bulgarian-Muslim bus driver, but the state prosecutor decided not to charge Hezbollah as an organization.
Shia presence in Italy
Italy, due to the sensitive relations with Lebanon and Iran, has left Hezbollah’s designation in a gray zone. When the then-Minister of Interior Matteo Salvini visited Israel in 2018, he called Hezbollah “Islamic terrorists”.