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Nasrallah son on US terror list became influential working with militant allies

Dalia Aqidi

Published: Updated:

The name Jawad Nasrallah, the son of Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, did not come up much in Washington DC circles until he was recently designated as a “global terrorist” by the US Department of State.

The Trump administration wanted to send a signal to his father and his organization, and demonstrate that Washington was willing to put harder sanctions on a wider network of Hezbollah leaders — even those not of the highest stature, according to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy fellow, Phillip Smyth. “Jawad Nasrallah is part of Lebanese Hezbollah’s units that focus on recruitment, training, and deployment of foreign (non-Lebanese) militants. According to the US State Department, he was involved in training and recruitment for the Palestinian Fatah-splinter known as the Mujahideen Brigades,” he told Al Arabiya English.

On the role of Jawad, Smyth noted that Hezbollah has built its organization using family networks and It should not be a shock that the Secretary-General’s son was listed, adding; “Jawad attained such an influential role within the terrorist group by working with other militant allies.C

“Jawad is a rising leader of Hezbollah, and has been active in the Palestinian territories,” state department’s top counterterrorism official Ambassador-at-Large, Nathan Sales, stated in a recent panel discussion in Washington. He emphasized that Hezbollah liked to tout its political role and social services in Lebanon, which Sales described as an “ill-fitting fig leaf for its true and more nefarious agenda."

SEE ALSO: US designates son of Hezbollah leader as ‘global terrorist’

“Let’s be clear: Hezbollah is not an NGO; it is not just another political party. Hezbollah is a terrorist group with a bloody record of perpetrating violence and destruction in Lebanon and Syria, throughout the Middle East, and around the world,” Sales said, pointing out that Hezbollah’s ambitions and global reach rival those of al-Qaeda and ISIS.

US decision a ‘strong step’

The Republican Overseas Spokesperson Drew Liquerman described the US decision as a “a strong step at chasing down Hezbollah and its affiliates who are attempting to destabilize and strong arm their way into the political scene in Lebanon."

He added that the “Mujahideen Brigades” is a group that has extreme strong ties to Hezbollah and the son of its leader. “On top of being a terrorist group and behind a lot of drug smuggling in Europe, Hezbollah is actively trying to undermine the political process in Lebanon right now. It strong armed the prime minister and essentially bullied their way into the government and running the country,” he stressed to Al Arabiya English.

“I think it is a major concern for the State Department that we have one of probably the most well-financed terror group in the world trying to actively work their way into the scene. Not just into the political scene, but actually into the government of Lebanon. This is something that needs to be looked at with a lot of caution.,” Liquerman stated. He added that the Lebanese terrorist organization had openly clashed with the Lebanese security forces before they would try to go around Lebanon to create their own social services and form their own government areas in Lebanon.

But how would the United States deal with the Lebanese government that has one of the most dangerous terrorist group in the Levant? Counterterrorism and Intelligence expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Dr. Matthew Levitt, answered our question by saying: “Washington will continue to find ways to work with those parts of the Lebanese government that are not run by Hezbollah. The expectation is that the Lebanese financial system will no longer bank for any part of the group, its officers, or affiliates.”

A backup to the backup

It is not a secret that Tehran and its Iranian Revolutionary Guards IRGC financially back up Hassan Nasrallah which was one of the reasons that the Trump administration announced new sanctions against Iran.

Ambassador Sales warned, in his panel discussion, of the threat the Hezbollah was posing globally, “Thanks to Iran’s backing, Hezbollah has built a fearsome arsenal. The group now has more than 100,000 rockets in Lebanon, a massive and destabilizing build-up. Indifferent to the people it purports to defend, Hezbollah hides its missile factories in population centers — effectively using innocent civilians as human shields,” he said.

Levitt had no doubts that the sanctions against Iran will be painful for Hezbollah as well. Shia militias’ expert Philip Smyth agreed with Levitt’s theory by saying: “US sanctions on Iran will and have certainly had an effect on Lebanese Hezbollah. Much of the organization’s money is given to them by Iran and the group has overall ideological loyalty to Tehran. What’s more, combined with the amounts Iran and Hezbollah have spent on executing the war in Syria, all of this is adding up quickly.”

Qatar fills in the void

However, Liquerman had a different theory. He stressed, to Al Arabiya English, that Qatar has very well filled the shoes of Iran as with Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, or affiliated organizations in the Gaza Strip, “Qatar had become their main financier and political ally, whether it be hosting Hamas terrorists in Qatar or sending in suitcases full of money into the Gaza Strip, which they say it might be going for the salaries but it’s very likely going to militants, military groups, and terrorist organizations.”

Washington had offered $15 million to anybody who would give information to locate, Commander of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades Salih Al-Aruri, Lebanese Hezbollah member Mahmoud Yousif Ahmad Mansour, and others.

Liquerman pointed out that $15 million each is serious money, but it is worth considering, “A large number of these terrorists are not just destabilizing the region, attacking US allies, upsetting the political process in Lebanon. These guys are actually bankrolling, controlling drug and trafficking trades across Europe, and drugs and human smuggling.”