US sanctions Lebanese network over Hezbollah ties

US officials announce sanctions against Lebanese network accused of helping finance Hezbollah.

Elad Benari ,

Hezbollah supporters
Hezbollah supporters

US officials on Thursday announced sanctions against a Lebanese network accused of laundering millions of dollars for “drug kingpins” and helping finance the Hezbollah terrorist organization, AFP reported.

The US Treasury Department said it has added Lebanese national Kassem Chams to its blacklist, along with two related entities: the “Chams Money Laundering Organization” and Chams Exchange, a money service business in Lebanon.

“Kassem Chams and his international money laundering network move tens of millions of dollars a month in illicit narcotics proceeds on behalf of drug kingpins and facilitate money movements for Hezbollah,” the Treasury said in a statement.

The Chams network moves money to and from multiple countries including Australia, Brazil, Colombia, France, Italy, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Spain, the United States and Venezuela, according to the statement.

The sanctions are part of the administration’s “unprecedented campaign to prevent Hezbollah and its global terror affiliates from profiting off violence, corruption, and the drug trade,” said Treasury under secretary Sigal Mandelker.

The United States has in the past imposed several rounds of sanctions on Hezbollah and officials affiliated with the terror group.

Last October, President Donald Trump signed new sanctions targeting Hezbollah.

A week earlier, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions designated five groups, including Hezbollah, as transnational criminal organizations to target with tougher investigations and prosecutions.

Before that, the Treasury sanctioned one of the financiers of Hezbollah and its representative to Iran, as well as five entities based in Europe.

Earlier this week, Washington designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. Hezbollah was created at the initiative of the Revolutionary Guards during the Lebanese civil war in 1982.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah later condemned the US decision to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group as foolish.