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US, Qatar announce joint sanctions against Hezbollah financing

Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Iran-backed terror group uses ‘global networks of financiers and front companies to support its malign activity’

Illustrative: Hezbollah and Amal supporters wave Hezbollah and Iranian flags as they shout slogans against Israel and the US during a protest in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, June 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Illustrative: Hezbollah and Amal supporters wave Hezbollah and Iranian flags as they shout slogans against Israel and the US during a protest in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, June 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

WASHINGTON — The United States announced on Wednesday that it was imposing sanctions on Hezbollah financiers in coordination with Qatar, a US ally that has kept cordial relations with Iran.

The Treasury Department announced that it was taking action against seven people including Qatari nationals Ali al-Banai and Ali Lari, who it said have secretly sent tens of millions of dollars to the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Hezbollah uses “global networks of financiers and front companies to support its malign activity” and praised the cooperation of Qatar.

“This represents one of the most significant joint actions we have taken with a Gulf Cooperation Council partner to date and underscores our extensive bilateral cooperation on countering terrorism finance,” Blinken said in a statement.

Nearby Bahrain also took action by freezing the bank accounts of al-Banai’s nephew on the island and will prosecute three people, the Treasury Department said.

Bahrain has tense relations with Iran but Qatar has comparatively friendly ties with Tehran as it seeks to maintain dialogue around the region.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a press conference at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on September 8, 2021. (Olivier DOULIERY / POOL / AFP)

Qatar has frequently come under criticism for not doing more to prevent fundraising for extremist groups on its soil, but the concerns more frequently involve Sunni Muslim terrorists such as Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Qatar’s relationship with the United States shot up in August as it became the transit point for more than half of the 100,000 people evacuated from Afghanistan as the Taliban took control.

Hezbollah is a political powerhouse in Lebanon with the Shi’ite Muslim terror movement recently bringing in Iranian fuel to ease an acute shortage.

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