US Sanctions Six People, Seven Firms Under Rules Targeting Hezbollah

Violet Powell
February 4, 2018

The Trump administration announced Friday that it was slapping fresh sanctions on Hezbollah-linked individuals and businesses in Africa and the Middle East - a move to limit not only the operations of the terrorist group, but also Iran's influence in the region.

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.

They must also grapple, senior officials said in describing the new sanctions, with the fact that Iran and Hezbollah may prioritize financial backing for militant activities even when overall resources decline. Tabaja has been the target of previous US sanctions. The move is tied to President Donald Trump's position on Iran - the administration has moved to ratchet up pressure on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program without abrogating the accord with the US and five other world powers.

The sanctions come as the Trump administration seeks to intensify its response to Iran's support for armed groups from Lebanon to Syria to Yemen, which the United States has long complained have attacked American interests and allies, and posed a major threat to Gulf nations.

The Trump administration said companies and their executives act on Tabaja's behalf, forming funding channels for the Lebanon-based militant group.

"It is also Iran's primary proxy used to undermine legitimate Arab governments across the Middle East", he said.

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They said there were "dozens" more financial networks linked to Hezbollah that could be targeted.

The first wave of penalties target Al-Inmaa Engineering Contracting, a company run by Tabaja and based in Hezbollah's stronghold south of Beirut. Most of the individuals targeted had not been publicly known to be Hezbollah financiers and are not prominent names in Lebanon.

"We will be relentless in identifying, exposing, and dismantling Hezbollah's financial support networks globally", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

The sanctions freeze any assets in the US and bar Americans from dealing with those being sanctioned.

Today will be a "very bad day for" Mr Tabaja, a senior administration official told the news agency AFP, speaking anonymously.

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