Four leaders of the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, responsible for its foreign operations, were designated as terrorist kingpins Thursday by the U.S. Treasury Department, prohibiting Americans from doing business with them and freezing any assets they have in the U.S. banking system.
Khalil Harb, Muhammad Kawtharani, Muhammad Yusuf Ahmad Mansur and Muhammad Qabalan are involved in Hezbollah activities ranging from assisting Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq to getting fighters to Syria to support the Assad regime, the Treasury Department said.
They are also engaged in "terrorist operations in Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Iraq," the department added.
All but Kawtharani are associated with Hezbollah's elite military squad known as Unit 1800, the department said.
Set up in the 1990s, the unit was "dedicated to supporting Palestinian terrorist groups and infiltrating its own operatives into Israel to collect intelligence and execute terrorist attacks within Israel's borders," according to former senior Treasury Department intelligence official Matthew Levitt, now the director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"Whether ferrying foreign fighters to the front lines of the Syrian civil war or inserting clandestine operatives in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere, Hezbollah remains a significant global terrorist threat," said David S. Cohen, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
"So long as Hezbollah spreads instability, conducts terrorist attacks and engages in criminal and illicit activities around the world, we will continue to sanction Hezbollah's operatives, leaders and businesses, wherever they may be found," he added.
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