U.S. Sanctions Four Members of Hezbollah
The United States on Thursday slapped sanctions on four members of the Shiite Hezbollah terror group, reported the Associated Press.
The Treasury Department order bars any Americans from dealing with the terrorists and freezes any money they may have in the U.S.
Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen predicted that other financial institutions across the world, including in Lebanon, could follow suit.
Cohen, who oversees terrorism and financial intelligence issues, described the four as either high-ranking Hezbollah operatives or those directly tasked with carrying out operations.
Newly-declassified details about their missions show Hezbollah’s reach across much of the Sunni-dominated Mideast and into Africa and Europe, Cohen said.
“Hezbollah is determined to spread instability, plan terrorist attacks and operate well beyond Lebanon’s boundaries,” he told reporters, according to AP. “And we have seen the violence and misery that comes along with Hezbollah’s influence, particularly in places like Syria and Iraq.”
The Treasury Department previously has imposed sanctions on Hezbollah, as recently as last month. Hezbollah was first put on the State Department’s list of foreign terror organizations in 1997.
With Iran’s help, Hezbollah terrorists have been a vital source of support to Syrian President Bashar Assad as he battles Sunni rebels in Syria’s civil war.
Two of the group’s members who were sanctioned Thursday have together seeded Hezbollah’s influence in nearly every Mideast country for more than two decades.
Treasury officials said that Khalil Harb, a senior Hezbollah commander, has overseen operations since 1988, starting in southern Lebanon and working his way up to directing plots in Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Egypt and Yemen.
He also has served as Hezbollah’s military liaison between Iran and Palestinian-based groups, officials said, according to AP.
Sanctions were also slapped on Mohammed Kawtharani, who has headed Hezbollah’s outreach, as well as on Mohammed Yusuf Ahmad Mansour and Mohammed Qabalan. They were both accused of plotting to attack Israeli tourists in Egypt in 2008.
Mansour was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to an Egyptian prison but escaped in 2011. Qabalan, who headed Hezbollah’s cell in Egypt, was sentenced in absentia.
The European Union recently decided to place only Hezbollah’s military wing on its list of terrorist entities, leaving the group’s political faction off the blacklist.
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, responded to the EU’s decision by likening the separation between Hezbollah’s “military” and “political” arms to trying to distinguish between one’s left arm and right arm.
"One cannot separate one’s right arm from one’s left arm because they are both part of the same body. Hezbollah is a terrorist entity from head to toe and should be treated as such,” said Prosor.