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Terrorism

US Treasury Department sanctions Hezbollah-linked individuals, company

“It is clear Hezbollah and its associates are more concerned with advancing their own interests and those of their patron, Iran, than the best interests of the Lebanese people,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

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The US Treasury Department has sanctioned three Lebanese men and one company for being linked to Iran-backed Hezbollah.

Three men and their Lebanon-based travel company were designated for facilitating and laundering finances to Hezbollah.

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“This action comes at a time in which the Lebanese economy faces an unprecedented crisis and Hezbollah, as part of Lebanon’s government, is blocking economic reforms and inhibiting much needed change for the Lebanese people,” a statement from the Treasury Department said.

For his part, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said Hezbollah was just like other corrupt actors in Lebanon. “Hezbollah continues to profit from insulated business ventures and backdoor political deals, amassing wealth that the Lebanese people never see,” he said.

He added that Tuesday’s move was meant to disrupt businessmen from raising and laundering funds for the group “while the Lebanese people face worsening economic and humanitarian crises.”

Demonstrators block a road with burning tires during a protest on the back of the continuing deterioration of living conditions, in Beirut, Nov. 29, 2021. (Reuters)
Demonstrators block a road with burning tires during a protest on the back of the continuing deterioration of living conditions, in Beirut, Nov. 29, 2021. (Reuters)

“It is clear Hezbollah and its associates are more concerned with advancing their own interests and those of their patron, Iran, than the best interests of the Lebanese people,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

While the move was welcomed by current and former US officials, a cut in staff has negatively impacted the fight against Hezbollah, one former Treasury Department official said.

“Today’s action is important, but the Treasury’s actions against Hezbollah have slowed to a crawl,” former Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea told Al Arabiya English.

Citing “Spiderz,” the group of hackers that leaked names and information of people it alleged had accounts with a US-sanctioned financial arm of Hezbollah, Billingslea said the Treasury Department “knows and can do more.”

But the cut in staff to “low, single digits” has impaired these efforts, he said.

“The Under-Secretary needs to direct OIA and OFAC to reprioritize this mission,” Billingslea said, referring to the Office of Intelligence and Analysis and the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Lebanon’s currency has collapsed, and an estimated 80 percent of the population lives in multidimensional poverty, according to the UN.

Corruption and sectarianism have marred the country and led it to the current crisis, which Lebanese officials have yet to begin to rectify. The current government has not met in three months due to Hezbollah and its Shia ally, Amal Movement, blocking efforts to convene.

Read more: End Hezbollah’s terrorist hegemony, Saudi envoy tells Lebanon’s politicians

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