Senate backs crackdown on Hezbollah

Legislation by Rubio would force the administration to take a tougher line on Hezbollah and its supporters.

Ben Ariel ,

Hezbollah rally
Hezbollah rally

The Senate is backing a bipartisan legislation that would force the Obama administration to take a tougher line in going after the Hezbollah terrorist group and its supporters, The Hill reports.

The Senate passed by unanimous consent on Tuesday evening legislation that aims to crackdown on the Lebanon-based group's access to money and logistical support.

The bill was put forth by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is running for president, and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), according to The Hill.

The legislation would let the administration sanction any banks that knowingly work with Hezbollah or supporters of the group. It would also require the administration to hand over a report detailing foreign financial institutions that are aiding the terrorist group or supporters.

The United States, which blacklisted Hezbollah as a terrorist group, regularly sanctions members of the group.

Washington has in the past imposed sanctions on the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah and two other members of the organization, for their alleged role in aiding the Syrian government in its crackdown on opposition forces.

However, it has also been revealed in the past that the U.S. government was providing indirect aid to Hezbollah in its fight against Sunni rivals including ISIS, as part of a wider strategic shift to cozy up to the terrorist group, which also includes intelligence-sharing.

Rubio said that the legislation passed on Tuesday would help "guarantee that our government is focused on eliminating this terrorist group."

“We cannot afford to jeopardize our national security by letting Iran’s leading terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, continue to pose a direct threat to us and our allies including Israel," he added, according to The Hill. "It is time for us to reveal the expansiveness of its dangerous network."

The bill would also require the administration to detail what countries that group has support networks in, what steps the foreign governments are taking to disrupt those networks, and how the administration is encouraging other countries to do more.

The legislation would require the administration to identify any Internet and telecommunications companies that knowingly contract with Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television, as well as give to lawmakers a list of which companies have been sanctioned and which have not.

It would also require reports and briefings on drug trafficking and transnational criminal activities by Hezbollah, and what procedures would be needed to designate the group as foreign narcotics trafficker and a "significant transnational criminal organization."

The legislation still needs to be passed by the House, noted The Hill.