US slaps new sanctions on Hezbollah-linked businessmen, firms
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US slaps new sanctions on Hezbollah-linked businessmen, firms

Treasury Department targets two individuals and three entities for allegedly having helped Lebanese terror group evade existing sanctions

Hezbollah fighters hold flags, as they attend the memorial of slain leader Sheik Abbas al-Mousawi, killed by an Israeli airstrike in 1992, in Tefahta village, south Lebanon, February 13, 2016. (Mohammed Zaatari/AP)
Hezbollah fighters hold flags, as they attend the memorial of slain leader Sheik Abbas al-Mousawi, killed by an Israeli airstrike in 1992, in Tefahta village, south Lebanon, February 13, 2016. (Mohammed Zaatari/AP)

The US Treasury Department increased its sanctions on the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah on Wednesday by targeting two individuals and three entities, for allegedly having helped it evade existing sanctions.

In a release on its website, the department said it targeted Belgium-based Wael Bazzi “for acting for or on behalf of his father and Hezbollah financier, Mohammad Bazzi,” as well as three companies owned by him: Belgium-based Voltra Transcor Energy and OFFISCOOP NV, and United Kingdom-based BSQRD Limited.

Also targeted was Lebanon-based Hassan Tabaja, “for acting for or on behalf of his brother and Hezbollah member and financier, Adham Tabaja.”

They were designated under an executive order targeting terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.

“As Hezbollah continues to attempt to obscure its activities by using seemingly legitimate businesses, we will continue to take action against the front persons who hide the movement of money, including the relatives of designated terrorists,” said Sigal Mandelker, the department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

State Department Counterterrorism coordinator Nathan Sales announcing rewards for the capture of two Hezbollah leaders, during a press briefing, October 10, 2017. (Screenshot from C-Span)

On Monday, the Trump administration announced that it is offering rewards of up to $10 million each for information that disrupts the finances of Hezbollah.

The State and Treasury Departments said 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.

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 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 cabinet, after it managed in 2016 to help Michel Aoun, an allied Christian leader, be elected president.

That has angered Washington, where US officials have called on the national unity government to ensure Hezbollah does not tap into public resources.

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