BY- CHIDAKASH PANDEY
The United States Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on seven Lebanese individuals associated with Hezbollah and its financial arm for unlawfully moving $500 million on behalf of the Iran-sponsored group.
The United States Treasury on Tuesday named Ibrahim Ali Daher, the head of Hezbollah’s financial operations and six different men who purportedly utilized personal records at Lebanese banks, including Jammal Trust Bank, to avoid United States sanctions. Other 6 people are Ahmad Mohamad Yazbeck, Abbas Hassan Gharib, Wahid Mahmud Subayti, Mostafa Habib Harb, Ezzat Youssef Akar, and Hasan Chehadeh Othman.
The United States action would essentially block any assets the individuals may have held in US financial institutions and prohibits any interbank transactions in future involving the US banking system and correspondent banks internationally.
The sanctions occurred at a time when Lebanon, where Hezbollah is an established political party, has been witnessing a economic and political upheaval.
According to United States Treasury the seven men “have all participated in evasive ‘shadow’ banking activity” through Hezbollah’s financial firm Al-Qard al-Hassan.
Right from the top rung of Hezbollah’s financial apparatus to ground-level individuals, Hezbollah has been abusing the Lebanese economy and drain Lebanon’s financial resources at an already critical moment, said Andrea Jacki, the United States Treasury’s director of foreign assets control.
Antony Blinken, Secretary of State said in a statement recently, Hezbollah represents a danger to the US and its partners in the Middle East.
“By storing cash that is frantically required by the Lebanese economy”, Secretary Blinken said, Hezbollah looks for “to construct its own support base and bargain the security of Lebanon.”
In February, Lokman Slim, a well-known Lebanese extremist known for his resistance to Hezbollah, was discovered dead in his vehicle. He was shot twice in the head.
In 2020, United States also banned the Lebanese former Transport and Finance Minister who provided financial assistance to the infamous group, which for years circumvent US sanctions.
The United States put sanctions on top Lebanese legislator and Hezbollah partner Gebran Bassil over a corruption case, making him the most prominent victim of sanctions on Hezbollah.
Bassil was once Foregn Minister of Labenon and is son-in-law of the president Michel Aoun, is also head of the largest bloc in Lebeanese Parliament, the Free Patriotic Movemnt. He is considered by many as presidential candidate in next elections.
13 nations so far, including the United States, have designated Hezbollah as a “terrorist” outfit for its radical and extreme operations, while 10 countries including China, Russia, Iran, and Syria don’t consider it to be a terrorist group.