Hezbollah parade
Hezbollah parade Reuters

The United States on Friday levied sanctions against six individuals and seven businesses with alleged links to Hezbollah financier Adham Tabaja, the White House said, according to AFP.

Tabaja, a Lebanese businessman, is believed by authorities in the United States to be one of Hezbollah's top five money men, with ties spanning the Middle East and Africa.

It will be a "very bad day for" Tabaja, said a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The sanctions, which are aimed at his managers and at companies based in Lebanon, Sierra Leone and Ghana, include trade bans and assets freezes.

They are said to be the first in a "wave" of sanctions targeting Hezbollah after a policy review by President Donald Trump's administration, according to AFP.

The United States has sanctioned Hezbollah in the past, with the House of Representatives approving in October new sanctions on the Lebanon-based terrorist group.

The measures would impose new sanctions on any entities found to support the group, such as by providing weapons to Hezbollah as well as sanctions on Iran and Hezbollah for using civilians as human shields.

In addition, Washington has in the past imposed sanctions on Hezbollah 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.

The Trump White House is keen to signal a tougher stance on Hezbollah and its Iranian backers, noted AFP.

They argue that President Barack Obama was not aggressive enough in cracking down on Hezbollah financing for fear of derailing a major deal aimed at stopping Iran for getting nuclear weapons.

Indeed, Politico reported in December that the Obama administration actively thwarted a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) operation into Hezbollah's drug smuggling operations in the United States in order to appease Iran ahead of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Last month, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the Justice Department to establish an investigative team to probe organizations giving support to the Iranian-backed terror group.

A senior administration official said on Friday that Hezbollah receives most of its operating budget -- about $700 million a year -- from the Iranian government and takes orders from the country's elite Revolutionary Guards.

In October, Washington offered multimillion-dollar rewards for two of its officials as the Trump administration developed its strategy for countering Iran’s growing regional influence.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)