US Treasury slaps sanctions on 'Hizbullah financial network'
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that it has designated Ahmad Jalal Reda Abdallah, a Lebanese businessman and Hizbullah “financial facilitator,” as well as five of his associates and eight of his companies in Lebanon and Iraq.
“This action illuminates Hizbullah’s modus operandi of using the cover of seemingly legitimate businesses to generate revenue and leverage commercial investments across a multitude of sectors to secretly fund Hizbullah and its terrorist activities. It also demonstrates how Hizbullah goes to great lengths to establish companies with opaque ownership structure in order to conceal their involvement in these businesses, and also their involvement in criminal activities such as altering of medication labels for black market pharmaceutical sales,” the Treasury said in a statement.
Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson added that Hizbullah has built a web of businesses to “hide its activities and generate funds for its destabilizing activities, all at the expense of accountability and public safety in Lebanon and the region.”
“The designation of this network demonstrates the U.S. government’s commitment to protect Lebanon’s private sector and financial system from Hizbullah’s abuse by targeting and exposing the group’s financial activities,” Nelson said.
Accordingly, OFAC designated Ahmad Jalal Reda Abdallah and “his network of associates and companies” under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, which targets “terrorists, leaders, and other officials of terrorist groups, and those providing support to acts of terrorism or persons blocked under E.O 13224.”
The United States designated Hizbullah as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” (FTO) on October 8, 1997, and as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” (SDGT) on October 31, 2001.
OFAC said Ahmad Abdallah is “a Hizbullah official and an active member of Hizbullah’s global financial network who has supported Hizbullah for decades, carrying out extensive commercial activities in various countries where the profits are transferred to Hizbullah.”
“He coordinates business activities and budgets with sanctioned senior Hizbullah financial facilitators such as Muhammad Qasir and Muhammad Qasim al-Bazzal. In addition to the involvement of Muhammad Qasir and Muhammad Qasim al-Bazzal, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officials have helped to facilitate financial transfers for Ahmad Abdallah’s businesses, many of which are located in Iraq and benefit Hizbullah,” the Treasury added.
“Ahmad Abdallah has worked with Muhammad Qasir to pursue a business plan together to finance businesses and generate funding for Hizbullah. Ahmad Abdallah has established a multitude of businesses including medical equipment factories, insurance companies, real estate, and construction companies, which funnel at least a portion of their profits to Hizbullah. Ahmad Abdallah pursued the establishment of food companies such as Al Moukhtar Products Co. SARL, which is designated today, because he perceived those sectors as less likely to be targets of sanctions,” the Treasury went on to say.
Abdallah “also used his senior employees and relatives to establish new businesses throughout the Middle East on behalf of Hizbullah,” it added.
“In addition to his business ventures where profits were used to benefit Hizbullah, Ahmad Abdallah also brokered meetings with senior businessmen and politicians in Lebanon on Hizbullah’s behalf. Ahmad Abdallah has also assisted Hizbullah in recovering Adham Tabaja’s frozen funds after he was designated in 2015,” the Treasury said.
It also identified “Abdallah’s network” as the individuals Hussein Kamel Attia, Joseph Ilya Haidamous, Hussein Reda Abdallah, Ali Reda Abdallah, Hussein Ahmad Jalal Abdallah and the entities United General Holding, United General Offshore, United General Services, Al Moukhtar Products Co. SARL, United General Contracting Company SARL, Focus Company SARL, Focus Media Company SAL Offshore and United International Exhibition Company SARL.