US sanctions six people, seven firms under rules targeting Hezbollah

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The US Treasury Department on Friday sanctioned six individuals and seven entities with alleged links to Hezbollah financier Adham Tabaja, under financial regulations targeting the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militant group.

The Lebanese businessman is believed by US authorities to be one of the group's top five money men, with ties spanning the Middle East and Africa.

It will be a “very bad day for” Tabaja, said a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The six sanctioned individuals included five Lebanese and one Iraqi, most of them linked to Al-Inmaa Engineering and Contracting, the Treasury Department said in a statement. The seven entities were firms based in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Lebanon and Ghana, the statement said.

The sanctions include trade bans and assets freezes.

First in a “wave” of sanctions

They are said to be the first in a “wave” of sanctions targeting Hezbollah after a policy review by President Donald Trump's administration.

The Trump White House is keen to signal a tougher stance on Hezbollah and its Iranian backers.

They argue that president Barack Obama was not aggressive enough in cracking down on Hezbollah financing for fear of derailing a major deal aimed at stopping Iran for getting nuclear weapons.

According to second senior administration official, Hezbollah receives most of its operating budget -- about $700 million a year -- from the Iranian government and takes orders from the country’s elite Revolutionary Guards.

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