U.S. House move to block Hezbollah funding
Lawmakers voted unanimously to broaden financial sector sanctions on Hezbollah and allow the Treasury more power to pursue foreign banks
U.S. lawmakers voted Tuesday to thwart efforts to fund Hezbollah by punishing banks and other financial organizations that help the funneling of money to the Lebanese Shiite militant group.
The House of Representatives voted unanimously to broaden financial sector sanctions on Hezbollah and allow the U.S. Treasury more power to “relentlessly” pursue foreign banks, including central banks, that do business with the group that Washington designated a foreign terrorist organization in 1995.
The Senate would need to pass the legislation before President Barack Obama signs it into law. The bill has yet to be placed on the Senate calendar.
“This bill builds on the existing sanctions regime by placing Hezbollah’s sources of financing under additional scrutiny, particularly those resources outside of Lebanon,” House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce said shortly before the vote.
And the U.S. sanctions would help reduce Hezbollah’s global reach, he said.
“We must be focused on some 5,000 Hezbollah fighters in Syria, massive international drug and money laundering operations, and the terrorist organization’s acquisition of advanced missile systems,” Royce added.
The bill would target what it says are Hezbollah’s criminal activities by calling on Obama to label the group a narcotics trafficking organization, with lawmakers warning of the groups systematic use of narcotics trafficking networks as a fundraising tool.
The measure would also label Hezbollah a transnational criminal organization, compelling the administration to take action to counter the group’s engagement in money laundering and trafficking in counterfeit goods.
Hezbollah strongly backs the Islamic militant wing of Hamas in its bloody two-week war with Israel.
On July 10 the U.S. Treasury blacklisted the Stars Group Holding, a Beirut-based network of companies accused of helping Hezbollah procure military equipment.
In 2011 Treasury sanctioned the Lebanese Canadian Bank, accusing it of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars from a narcotics network. The bank, which has since been dissolved, paid a fine of $102 million to U.S. authorities in 2013 to avoid prosecution.
Hezbollah leader says Gaza ‘resistance’ will defeat IsraelLebanon's Hezbollah is backing the Palestinian 'resistance' in Gaza to defeat Israel, the Shiite movement's leader Hassan Nasrallah says Middle East
Lebanon’s Hariri calls for lawmakers to elect a presidentThe former PM also demanded that Shi’ite movement Hezbollah pull out of the war in neighbouring Syria Middle East
Six dead as Hezbollah battles Syria rebels on Lebanon borderThe Syrian casualties were taken to a filed hospital in Arsal Middle East
U.S. blacklists Hezbollah agents buying drone componentsBeirut-based Stars Group Holding, which buys electronics and other technology via offices in China and Dubai, was blacklisted News
Report: Hashish production thrives in Hezbollah-controlled landThe production of cannabis in Lebanon reportedly surged during the Syrian crisis Middle East
Lebanese Shiite figure condemns HezbollahPoint Of Order