The United States on Thursday sanctioned two Hezbollah officials in order to maintain pressure on the group and impede its ability to operate in the financial system.
A statement by the State Department named the as Nabil Qaouk and Hassan Al-Baghdadi, who are being sanctioned for being officials or leaders of Hezbollah, a US-designated foreign terrorist organization and Specially Designated Global Terrorist.
“Qaouk and Al-Baghdadi are members of Hezbollah’s Central Council, a group of senior Hezbollah officials that elects the terrorist group’s Shura Council, Hezbollah highest decision-making body. Qaouk has also served on Hezbollah Executive Council, which oversees the group’s social and economic activities,” the statement said.
The statement further noted that Hezbollah “remains a terrorist threat to the United States, our allies, and our interests in the Middle East and around the world. It is essential that countries take steps to restrict Hizballah’s activities and disrupt the terrorist group’s facilitation networks.”
Thursday’s designations reinforce other recent US designations of Hezbollah officials, entities, and others who have provided support or services to it, including certain political enablers.
“These designations also expose their actions, which all too often prioritize their own interests or those of Tehran ahead of the Lebanese people. As the United States commemorates the 37th anniversary of Hezbollah’s heinous attack on the US Marine Corps Barracks in Beirut, we reaffirm our commitment to take action to disrupt Hezbollah operations and promote accountability for its terrorist acts. All responsible nations must take appropriate steps to restrict Hezbollah activities and constrain its influence,” the statement concluded.
The US Treasury said in a separate statement that as a result of Thursday’s action, all property and interests in property of the two sanctioned individuals, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons, are blocked.
The statement further noted that engaging in certain transactions with the individuals designated entails risk of secondary sanctions.
The United States has imposed sanctions on many of Hezbollah’s officials in the past.
Last month, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on two Lebanon-based companies and a man described as an official with Hezbollah.
Prior to that, the Treasury sanctioned two former Lebanese Cabinet ministers allied with Hezbollah — the ex-finance minister, Ali Hassan Khalil, currently a lawmaker, and the former public works and transportation minister, Youssef Fenianos.