September 26, 2017 | Press Release

Despite Financial Strain, Rising Iranian Support Buoys Hezbollah, New FDD Study Finds

Washington, D.C., September 26, 2017 – As Congress prepares to markup legislation on Thursday to place new sanctions on Hezbollah, a new report from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) finds that the Lebanon-based Shiite terrorist organization is a major player in the Syrian civil war and continues to access roughly a billion dollars in annual funding for its operations even after years of Washington targeting its finances.          

The “Hezbollah Financial Assessment” report finds that Hezbollah’s resources have been stretched by U.S. sanctions and its involvement in Syria, but that these constraints are being countered by Iran giving roughly $800 million annually to the group. Based on extensive analysis of the body of reporting on the group, Hezbollah – which conducted the deadliest terrorist attack against U.S. before 9/11 – makes most of its income through Iranian support, smuggling and drug trafficking, and donations.

Lead author Yaya J. Fanusie, a former CIA economic and counterterrorism analyst, writes that to help defeat Hezbollah, the United States needs a coherent strategy that takes into account Hezbollah’s international criminal networks and its state supporters. The strategy must increase efforts to find Hezbollah’s drug and smuggling networks, and make the case to the EU to sanction the group in its entirety. The U.S. should also invest resources to determine which Iranian entities’ revenues the supreme leader is drawing from to fund Hezbollah, and then reinstate full secondary sanctions on those entities — under terrorism, not nuclear, sanctions.

The Hezbollah financial assessment is the sixth part of “The Terror Finance Briefing Book,” produced by FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF). The five previous assessments cover: the Islamic State, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda’s Branch in Syria, Al-Shabaab, and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. They detail the financial strengths and vulnerabilities of top terror groups, highlight possible “wildcard” scenarios which could impact future funding, and specific actions the United States should take to disrupt them.

When completed, “The Terror Finance Briefing Book” will be accompanied by CSIF’s Terrorism Designees Database. Until now, there has been no public database where researchers could quickly sort terrorism designees by nationality and organization. Each report will be published with an appendix listing designated individuals and entities affiliated with the respective group.


For more information, contact [email protected] or 202.403.2904.


About FDD:

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a Washington, DC-based non-partisan policy institute focusing on foreign policy and national security. Visit our website at and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.