The Biden administration, in coordination with Qatar, has imposed sanctions on several alleged Hezbollah financiers based in the Gulf region, accusing them of providing and facilitating material support to the Lebanese group.
The US Treasury Department announced sanctions on Wednesday against what it called a “major” Hezbollah financial network based in the Arabian Peninsula.
The administration targeted seven individuals – citizens of Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, as well as a Palestinian national – and a real estate firm that it said funnelled millions of dollars to Hezbollah and institutions linked to the group.
They include Ali al-Banai, Ali Lari and Abd al-Muayyid as well as Qatar-based AlDar Properties.
The US sanctions freeze their assets in the United States and make it a potential crime for American citizens to do business with them.
Later on Wednesday, Doha also confirmed it imposed sanctions in coordination with Washington on seven individuals and one entity, without identifying them.
“This decision … comes in light of the cooperation with the United States within the framework of Qatar’s fulfilment of its obligations and its unrelenting efforts in combating terrorism at the local, regional and international levels,” Qatar’s official news agency, QNA, said in a statement.
That was echoed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who welcomed the sanctions as an example of the Biden administration’s cooperation with international allies.
The United States and the Government of Qatar have taken coordinated action against a major Hizballah financial network based in the Gulf. We will continue to cooperate with international partners to protect the U.S. and international financial systems from terrorist abuse.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) September 29, 2021
Andrea M Gacki, director of the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, accused Hezbollah of abusing the international financial system to fund “terrorist activity”.
“The cross-border nature of this Hizballah financial network underscores the importance of our continued cooperation with international partners, such as the Government of Qatar, to protect the U.S. and international financial systems from terrorist abuse,” Gacki said in a statement.
Washington has been intensifying its efforts against Hezbollah’s financing network, with former President Donald Trump increasing pressure on the Iran-linked group as part of his maximum pressure campaign against Tehran.
The US Treasury said last year that it targeted 90 Hezbollah-affiliated individuals and entities since 2017.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration sanctioned alleged Hezbollah financiers in Kuwait and Lebanon.
The US designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation in 1997, but the group rejects the label, presenting itself as a resistance force against Israel.
Hezbollah has also blamed US sanctions, including measures against neighbouring Syria, for the worsening economic crisis in Lebanon, where the collapse of the local currency has led to shortages in fuel and medicine, among other basic goods.
On Wednesday, the US Treasury said it would continue to target the financing of “terrorist groups”.
“Through sustained information-sharing and collaboration on this and other networks of Lebanese Hizballah financial facilitators operating in the Arabian Peninsula, the U.S. government will continue to disrupt the financial support that flows to terrorist groups such as Hizballah, including through multilateral and bilateral initiatives,” it said in a statement.