The U.S. Department of the Treasury earlier this month sanctioned Lebanese national Muhammad Abdallah al-Amin and seven companies he controls for providing material support to Adham Husayn Tabaja – a Hezbollah insider who was himself designated by the Treasury Department in 2015. This round of sanctions is the latest in a string of actions designed to target Hezbollah’s finances worldwide.
Al-Amin’s companies conduct business globally in the energy, food, merchandise, and advertising sectors. Six of them are located at the same address in central Beirut. Treasury noted that al-Amin held large amounts of money in Lebanese financial institutions on behalf of Tabaja and that he allowed Hezbollah to use his businesses to gain access to the international banking sector. Tabaja has invested in profitable real estate ventures for Hezbollah, winning multiple construction contracts in Iraq and Lebanon, which directly benefited the terror group.
Alongside Tabaja and al-Amin, Treasury previously designated Kassem Hejeij in June 2015 and Ali Youssef Charara in January 2016 for facilitating transactions on behalf of Hezbollah. In October 2016, it targeted Mohammad al-Mukhtar Kallas and Hasan Jamal Al-Din, both of whom are employed by Tabaja’s al-Inmaa Engineering. Last February, Treasury designated six more individuals and seven entities for acting on Tabaja’s behalf to finance Hezbollah through companies based in Africa and Lebanon.
As part of its efforts to squeeze Hezbollah worldwide, Treasury will likely continue to target more Tabaja-connected companies and business associates. Meanwhile, additional tools are being added to go after Hezbollah’s terror finances. One is the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015, which allows for the imposition of secondary sanctions against individuals and entities that support Hezbollah’s money laundering and terror financing networks.
Congress just passed an updated version of this legislation, the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendment Act, which will now target Hezbollah’s investment arm (Bayt al-Mal), its real estate foundation (Jihad al-Bina), its main charity (The Islamic Resistance Support Association), and its global intelligence group (External Security Organization of Hezbollah). The bill will also target entities in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, including financial institutions that make it possible for Hezbollah to continue to raise overseas funds for its regional adventurism.
In addition, the newly created Transnational Organized Crime Task Force at the Department of Justice will target Hezbollah for money laundering and drug trafficking. The task force will consist of prosecutors with experience in prosecuting a wide range of financial crimes.
Taken together, these efforts will pressure Hezbollah’s global operations. It is all part of a full-court press orchestrated by the administration and Congress to dry up Hezbollah’s illicit finance networks, prosecute its operatives, and the broader effort to deny Hezbollah’s patron Iran from funding its global terror activity.