Canada

B'nai Brith takes legal route to force Ottawa to ban Hezbollah

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The Jewish human rights group B'nai Brith is suing the Canadian government and two top cabinet ministers for failing to ban a radical Lebanese terrorist group.

B'nai Brith Canada wants Ottawa to add Hezbollah to its list of groups whose assets are frozen and seized.

Ottawa has named the military wing of the organization to a Canada-United Nations terrorist list. But the federal government has been reluctant to add Hezbollah's social wing to a list in Canada that would outlaw the entire group.

B'nai Brith filed papers in the federal court in Winnipeg seeking to force Canada to treat all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

"I think if we're going to split hairs on whether the nursery school, run by Hezbollah, run by educators who are teaching hate, is really part of the military operation that teaches suicide bombing, I think we're making a terrible mistake as Canadians.

"I think it's very clear to the common man in Canada and the common woman in Canada that terrorist organizations all entities, all entities are part and parcel of the whole. And I hope that the government and in particular (Foreign Minister) Mr. Bill Graham who's been so actively defending Hezbollah, will get the message loud and clear," said Frank Dimant, the executive vice-president of B'nai Brith.

The lawsuit names Graham and Justice Minister Martin Cauchon as co-defendants with the government of Canada.

On Wednesday the federal government added six more groups to its terrorist list, but Hezbollah wasn't on it.

Solicitor General Wayne Easter said the government made its decision based on intelligence information.

"We had to look at how they're structured. We had to look at how they're involved. We had to look at how they're funded. And we do that based on criminal and intelligence reports, through our intelligence service and through others ... it's based on clear established facts, based on intelligence matters," said Easter.

B'nai Brith is hoping public pressure generated by their legal action will force the government to act before the issue goes to a federal court hearing.