WASHINGTON — The United States and Saudi Arabia on Thursday imposed sanctions on alleged Hezbollah members and financial backers, accusing them of funneling money to the Lebanese terror group or engaging in terrorism.
The US Treasury Department said it targeted four individuals and one company, effectively freezing their US assets and blocking any transactions with them, while also announcing related action by Saudi Arabia.
In a related action, the US State Department also blacklisted alleged Hezbollah commander Haytham Ali Tabatabai, alias Abu Ali al-Tabatabai, the Treasury Department said in a statement.
Tabatabai has commanded Hezbollah special forces, operated in Syria, and is now believed to be in Yemen, the State Department said. His actions in Syria and Yemen “are part of a larger Hezbollah effort to provide training, materiel and personnel in support of its destabilizing regional activities.”
The State Department declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization in 1997 and long-standing US efforts have sought to disrupt the organization’s funding.
Founded in the 1980s in Lebanon, the Shiite militant organization and political party has provided military support to President Bashar Assad in the Syrian conflict, and American officials blame it for attacks stretching back to the 1980s.
“Hezbollah continues to plan, coordinate and execute terrorist attacks around the world, and Treasury will continue to aggressively target Hezbollah and those supporting its terrorist activities,” Adam Szubin, acting Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.
— Treasury Department (@USTreasury) October 20, 2016
The US designations were imposed under an executive order issued by former president George W. Bush in the immediate aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The men blacklisted by the Treasury included Muhammad al-Mukhtar Kallas and Hasan Jamal-al-Din, purported accountants for Hezbollah financier Adham Husayn Tabaja, as well as Yosef Ayad and Muhammad Ghaleb Hamdar, described as members of Hezbollah’s External Security Organization who were accused of plotting attacks in Thailand and Peru.
Kallas and al-Din worked with Tabaja to move bulk cash shipments between Lebanon and Iraq and had assisted other Hezbollah members who were already blacklisted, according to the Treasury.
The Treasury also blacklisted the Tabaja-controlled company Global Cleaners, which it said had won sanitation services contracts in Baghdad.
Saudi Arabia designated Kallas, al-Din and Global Cleaners under a local counter-terrorism law, freezing their assets and prohibiting any commercial licenses for the men in the kingdom.
AP contributed to this report