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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

US, Qatar slap sanctions on Hezbollah financing network

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The latest move comes as Qatar implements Resolution No. 91 of 2021 that names terrorist persons and entities on the national sanctions list.

Qatar and the United States imposed sanctions on a “major” Hezbollah financial network on Wednesday, Washington’s Treasury Department announced.

The Joe Biden administration slapped the sanctions on seven Hezbollah financiers based in the Gulf region who hold Qatari, Saudi, Bahraini and Palestinian citizenships.

Qatar’s Al Dar Properties has also being designated “for being owned, controlled, or directed by, directly or indirectly” by Sulaiman Al-Banai, one of the people listed on the Specially Designated Global Terrorists [SDGTs].

“The cross-border nature of this Hizballah [sic] financial network underscores the importance of our continued cooperation with international partners, such as the Government of Qatar, to protect the US and international financial systems from terrorist abuse,” said Office of Foreign Assets Control Director Andrea M. Gacki.

Qatar also confirmed the sanctions though it fell short of identifying the names of the financiers and the “one entity”.

The Gulf state’s news agency [QNA] said the decision came as part of Doha’s cooperation with Washington and under Resolution No. 91 of 2021 of entering persons committing terrorism and terrorist entities onto the National Penal Register.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also welcomed the sanctions.

“The United States and the Government of Qatar have taken coordinated action against a major Hizballah [sic] financial network based in the Gulf. We will continue to cooperate with international partners to protect the U.S. and international financial systems from terrorist abuse,” said Blinken.

The US said it designated Ali Reda Hassan al-Banai [Ali al-Banai], Ali Reda al-Qassabi Lari [Ali Lari], and Abd al-Muayyid al-Banai [Abd Al-Muayyid] as SDGTs “for having materially assisted, sponsored” or provided “technological support for” the group.

US, Qatar slap sanctions on Hezbollah financing network

It also said that Al-Banai and Lari have secretly sent tens of millions of dollars to the organisation “through the formal financial system and cash couriers”. The former began transferring funds through a Kuwait-based Hezbollah donor.

“Lari has been providing financial support to Hizballah since 2000 when he would deliver cash to Hizballah [sic] during his trips to Lebanon.  During a trip to Iran, Lari met with a high-ranking Hizballah [sic] official to transfer funds to the group,” said the US.

Since 2018, Lari has been involved in financial activities aimed at supporting Hezbollah and also worked with Al-Banai to transfer the money from Qatar to organisations linked to the group.

The remaining four – Abd al-Rahman Abd al-Nabi Shams [Shams], Yahya Muhammad Al-Abd-al-Muhsin [Abd-al-Muhsin], Majdi Fa’iz al-Ustadz [Ustadz], and Sulaiman Al-Banai – are being designated as SDGTs for “materially assisting, sponsoring or providing financial material” to the group.

“As of 2019, Ali Al-Banai had transferred millions of Qatari riyals to an account held by Shams. Concurrent with this action, the Government of Bahrain has frozen the bank accounts of this individual and has additionally referred three individuals to their prosecutor’s office,” added the US Treasury’s statement.

Saudi Arabia-based relative of Lari Abd-Al-Muhsin managed Ali Al-Banai’s real estate group across the Gulf region.

The US designated Hezbollah, a major political player in Lebanon, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997 and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on 31 October, 2001.

Similarly, the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation in 2016.


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