WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is offering rewards of up to $10 million each for information that disrupts the finances of Lebanon’s terrorist Hezbollah organization.
The State and Treasury Departments said Monday the money will be paid to people who provide information such as the names of Hezbollah donors and financiers, bank records, customs receipts or evidence of real estate transactions.
The payments will be made by the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program that usually offers cash for information leading to the whereabouts of wanted terrorists. This is the first time the program has been used to target a financial network.
Since it began in 1984, Rewards for Justice has paid more than $150 million to more than 100 people who have provided information about terrorists or prevented terrorism attacks.
The reward was posted as the United States announced on Monday that it will no longer grant sanctions exemptions to Iran’s oil customers, potentially punishing allies such as India as it tries to squeeze Tehran’s top export.
US officials say that they are aiming at choking off Iranian revenue so as to reduce the clerical regime’s regional clout, notably its support for terror groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
The Iran-backed group, considered a terror organization by the US, has an arsenal of tens of thousands of rockets and missiles. Its battle-hardened cadres fought Israel to a stalemate in 2006, and have fought alongside President Bashar Assad’s army since the early days of the Syrian civil war, securing a string of hard-won victories. Over the past year, the terror group has translated this power into major political gains unseen in the past.
Hezbollah and its allies today control a majority of seats in the Lebanese parliament and the Cabinet, after it managed in 2016 to help Michel Aoun, an allied Christian leader, be elected president. The group has three Cabinet seats, the largest number it has ever taken, including the Health Ministry, which has one of the largest budgets.
That has angered Washington, where US officials have called on the national unity government to ensure Hezbollah does not tap into public resources.