"Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has banned the Shia terrorist organisation Hezbollah in Germany," a ministry spokesman says, as country raids several places to detain suspected members of group.

Germany had previously distinguished between Hezbollah's political arm and its military units, which have fought alongside Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad's military.
Germany had previously distinguished between Hezbollah's political arm and its military units, which have fought alongside Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad's military. (AP Archive)

Germany has banned Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah's activity on its soil and designated it a terrorist organisation, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

Police conducted early morning raids in Germany to detain suspected members of the group. Security officials believe up to 1,050 people in Germany are part of Hezbollah.

"Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has banned the Shia terrorist organisation Hezbollah in Germany," tweeted a ministry spokesman.

"Even in times of crisis, the rule of law is capable of acting," he added.

There was no immediate reaction from Hezbollah. 

Israel, US pushing Germany 

Germany had previously distinguished between Hezbollah's political arm and its military units, which have fought alongside Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad's military.

Israel and the United States had been pushing Germany to ban the organisation.

Last December, Germany's parliament approved a motion urging Chancellor Angela Merkel's government to ban all activities by Hezbollah on German soil, citing its "terrorist activities" especially in Syria.

Hezbollah is already designated a terrorist organisation by the United States, Hezbollah is also a significant backer of the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab, which took office in January.

On a trip to Berlin last year, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped Germany would follow Britain in banning Hezbollah. 

Raids on mosques

Britain introduced legislation in February of last year that classified Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation.

Officials raided four mosque associations in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Bremen and Berlin which they believe are close to Hezbollah.

Source: Reuters