The United States imposed sanctions on Tuesday on four people linked to Lebanon’s Hezbollah who coordinate the Iran-backed group’s activities in Iraq and designated the son of the group’s leader as a global terrorist.
The U.S. Treasury added Shibl Muhsin Ubayd al-Zaydi, Yusuf Hashim, Adnan Hussein Kawtharani and Muhammad Abd-al-Hadi Farhat to its Specially Designated Global Terrorists list.
Al-Zaydi is Iraqi and the others are Lebanese.
The State Department designated Jawad Nasrallah, the son of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist and described him as a “rising leader of Hezbollah”.
It called Jawad a “rising leader” of the group who in recent years had recruited people “to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel in the West Bank.”
The State Department also added the Al-Mujahidin Brigades, a Hezbollah-linked group based in the Palestinian Territories, to its Specially Designated Global Terrorists list.
“Today’s designations seek to deny Nasrallah and AMB the resources to plan and carry out terrorist attacks,” the department said.
The designations serve to block any property those sanctioned have under US jurisdiction, and ban Americans and US businesses from dealing with them.
Proscribed as a terrorist movement by the United States, Hezbollah is a heavily-armed Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim group backed by Iran and a leading ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Iran also backs Shi’ite militias in Iraq.
The Treasury statement said the four individuals “lead and coordinate (Hezbollah’s) operational, intelligence and financial activities in Iraq”.
The Treasury accused al-Zaydi of smuggling oil from Iran and from Iran into Syria, of fundraising for Hezbollah and of sending fighters to Syria for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Washington at the end of October tightened existing anti-Hezbollah legislation aiming to sever the group’s funding routes around the world, passing amendments to the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act (HIFPA) of 2015. The four individuals are being sanctioned under HIFPA.
Nasrallah the Hezbollah leader earlier this year said increasing U.S. pressure on the group would not yield results.
Hezbollah is one of the Lebanon’s three powerful political factions.
Lebanon’s prime minister-designate Saad Hariri on Tuesday accused Hezbollah of holding up the formation of a new government as it seeks stronger representation for itself and its allies.
Washington, however, does not regard Hezbollah as a legitimate political actor, but a front for US nemesis Iran.
“Hezbollah is a terrorist proxy for the Iranian regime that seeks to undermine Iraqi sovereignty and destabilize the Middle East,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
“Treasury’s concerted actions aim to deny Hezbollah’s clandestine attempts to exploit Iraq to launder funds, procure weapons, train fighters, and collect intelligence as a proxy for Iran,” Mandelker said in a statement.