January 19, 2022 | Policy Brief

U.S. Treasury Designates Additional Targets in Hezbollah Financial Network

January 19, 2022 | Policy Brief

U.S. Treasury Designates Additional Targets in Hezbollah Financial Network

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on Tuesday on three Hezbollah members and financial facilitators along with their Lebanon-based travel company. These designations are an extension of sanctions OFAC issued last September against an illicit financial network run by senior Hezbollah official Hasib Hadwan (a.k.a. Hajj Zayn).

The three Hezbollah members whom OFAC targeted in its latest sanctions package are Adel Diab, identified as a Hezbollah member and businessman; Ali Mohamad Daoun, an upper-mid-level Hezbollah official; and Jihad Salem Alame, also identified as a Hezbollah member.

Next to Hadwan, whom Treasury identified in September as a senior official in Hezbollah’s General Secretariat, Daoun is the most senior Hezbollah official named in this network so far. Daoun is in charge of Hezbollah’s second district in southern Lebanon, a position he has held for over a decade. He routinely appears at party functions, at funerals of fighters killed in Syria (including family members from his hometown of ‘Adshit), and alongside senior members of the group’s high command.

Diab, meanwhile, is the founder and co-owner of several companies registered in Lebanon, including one with a branch in Erbil, in Iraq’s Kurdish region, according to Lebanon’s official business registry. OFAC designated only one of those companies, Dar al-Salam for Tourism and Travel, which Diab, Daoun, and Alame co-founded and co-own.

Tuesday’s targets are connected to the Hadwan network through Ali al-Sha’ir, whom Treasury designated along with Hadwan himself last September. Treasury’s announcement on Tuesday noted that Diab “has jointly owned assets with Ali Al Sha’ir, an assistant to Hizballah fundraiser Hasib Muhammad Hadwan, a member of Hizballah’s General Secretariat, who works with Hizballah Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah.”

Treasury’s latest designations add to the list of businesses owned by Hezbollah members and/or senior Hezbollah officials. On the one hand, the designations underscore the pervasiveness of Hezbollah in all facets of Lebanese society and in all sectors of the Lebanese business world.

While OFAC’s latest designations are not necessarily trivial, it remains to be seen how impactful they will be and exactly how significant this particular network is for Hezbollah’s financial operations. It is also uncertain whether Treasury will continue to sanction other components within the network.

Under the Trump administration, the Treasury Department went after major Hezbollah financiers and multiple networks spanning the globe. In 2018, for example, Treasury issued over 30 Hezbollah-related designations, the most in a single year. Within the networks uncovered by those designations, there remain a number of big names and targets, especially in Africa, that Treasury has apparently chosen not to pursue.

In this context, Tuesday’s designations, and their precursors in September, come across almost as isolated measures, lacking a coherent rationale and unconnected to any strategic campaign to inflict damage on Hezbollah’s financial operations and overall infrastructure.

Tony Badran is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), where he also contributes to FDD’s Center on Economic and Financial Power (CEFP), Iran Program, and Israel Program. For more analysis from Tony, CEFP, and the Iran and Israel programs, please subscribe HERE. Follow Tony on Twitter @AcrossTheBay. Follow FDD on Twitter @FDD and @FDD_CEFP and @FDD_Iran. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.


Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Israel Sanctions and Illicit Finance