(CNSNews.com) – Fifteen days after London was targeted in a deadly terrorist attack – its second in less than three months – police in the British capital stood by Sunday as flags of the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah were carried openly during a small pro-Palestine march through the city center.
Hours after the march, yet another apparent attack occurred near a mosque in north London late Sunday night. One person was killed and eight injured after a van slammed into a crowd of people who had emerged from a prayer service at the mosque. A suspect has been arrested.
Earlier, more than 24,000 people had signed a petition urging London Mayor Sadiq Khan to ban the march, to no avail. The petition cited legislation making it a criminal offense to display an article in public indicating membership of or support for a proscribed organization.
But organizers advised participants beforehand that they could carry Hezbollah flags “to show support for the political wing of Hezbollah. This is because the political wing of Hezbollah is not a proscribed organization.”
At the front of the march, a large yellow Hezbollah flag flew above a large Palestinian flag inscribed with the words “Boycott Israel.” Hezbollah flags, which feature a graphic of an assault rifle, were also seen draped around the shoulders of some demonstrators.
Like several others, the British government draws a distinction between supposed military and civilian “wings” of the Iranian-backed “Party of Allah,” and in 2008 designated its “military wing” as a terrorist entity.
The United States does not distinguish between the supposed wings but has outlawed Hezbollah in its entirety, as have several other countries including Australia, Canada and the Netherlands.
“We don’t distinguish as the United States government between the political and military or terrorist wings of Hezbollah,” a State Department spokesman reiterated in 2013.
“And that’s based on our careful review of all the information that indicates that Hezbollah’s numerous branches and subsidiaries share a common funding, common personnel and leadership, which all support the group’s violent activity.”
Hezbollah itself disputes that its military and political wings are distinct entities.
The annual so-called Quds Day event is organized, in part, by a London-based group calling itself the “Islamic Human Rights Commission” (IHRC). On Sunday, Jewish groups held a counter-protest nearby.
This year the IHRC chose as its end point Grosvenor Square, where the U.S. Embassy is located – “because of Washington’s continuing support of Israel.”
“The U.S. continues to underwrite the Zionist regime financially, militarily and politically and block all attempts at finding a just solution to the Palestinian issue,” the group said ahead of the march.
The IHRC says Quds Day “has been marked globally since being inaugurated in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini who asked for the last Friday in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to be set aside as a day for uniting against Israel and showing support for the dispossessed and oppressed Palestinians.”
In fact, Khomeini proposed the day as an annual opportunity for protestors to demonstrate their opposition to Israel’s existence.
The Quds Day march came 15 days after three men rammed a van into pedestrians on London Bridge then stabbed others in a nearby market area, killing seven people and injuring almost 50 more. On March 22, five people were killed when a British-born convert to Islam drove a vehicle into pedestrians on the city’s Westminster Bridge. ISIS claimed responsibility for both attacks.
The U.S. has listed Hezbollah as a “foreign terrorist organization” ever since FTO designation was first established under legislation passed in 1996.
Before 9/11, the Shi’ite group was responsible for the deaths of more Americans in attacks than any other terror organization.
Major acts of terror blamed on the group and its Iranian sponsors include 1983 suicide bombings in Beirut on targets including the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks that killed more than 300; and the bombing of the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish community center in Argentina in 1992 and 1994, in which 114 people were killed.
In Europe, Hezbollah has been linked to bombings and foiled attack plots since the mid-1980s – including, as recently as 2012, a bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian.
The group, which operates as a political party and has long had members in the Lebanese cabinet, is actively involved on the side of the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war.