WASHINGTON: The United States has accused Hezbollah of stockpiling ammonium nitrate in several European countries, suggesting a possible link between the Lebanese Shia movement and the recent massive explosion in Beirut.

“Since 2012, Hezbollah has established caches of ammonium nitrate throughout Europe by transporting first aid kits whose cold packs contain the substance,” US counterterrorism coordinator Nathan Sales said.

“Those sorts of caches have been found in a number of countries, including the UK, Greece, France, Italy, and a number of others,” he said in a conference transcript on Friday.

“I can also reveal that significant ammonium nitrate caches have been discovered or destroyed in France, Greece, and Italy... And as we all saw in the Port of Beirut explosion, ammonium nitrate is a truly dangerous substance.”

The August 4 blast in Beirut killed more than 190 people, wounded thousands and ripped through large parts of the Lebanese capital.

The Hezbollah movement, which is designated by the US as a terrorist group, exerts influence over the port, multiple sources have confirmed.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2020