A poster of Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah in southern Lebanon.
(photo credit: ALI HASHISHO/REUTERS)
WASHINGTON - A new program will offer up to $10 million in rewards for information leading to the disruption of the global financial mechanisms of Hezbollah, the US Department of State announced Monday.
It is the first time that the department is offering a reward for information regarding Hezbollah's financial networks.
According to a December 2017 "Forbes Israel" report, Hezbollah is the richest terror organization in the world, with an estimated annual income of $1.1 billion. The organization's revenue comes from a combination of Iranian support, business investments, donor networks and money laundering activities. The State Department designated Hezbollah a Foreign Terrorist Organization in October 1997, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in October 2001.
According to the State Department's announcement, the rewards could be provided for information that would lead to the identification and disruption of a source of revenue for Hezbollah or its fundamental financial facilitation mechanisms; major Hezbollah donors or financial facilitators; financial institutions or exchange houses facilitating Hezbollah transactions; and businesses or investments owned or controlled by Hezbollah or its financiers.
"I'm confident that the [reward] that we are offering today will provide incentives for people to come forward with information that will help us take down Hezbollah's financial networks," said Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Michael T. Evanoff in a press briefing at the State Department:
In addition, the State Department has highlighted three individuals as key Hezbollah financiers or facilitators about whom it seeks information: Adham Tabaja, Mohammad Ibrahim Bazzi and Ali Youssef Charara.
Tabaja is a Hezbollah member who maintains direct ties to senior Hezbollah organizational elements, including the group’s operational component, Islamic Jihad. Bazzi is an important Hezbollah financier who has provided millions of dollars to the terrorist organization, generated from his business activities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Charara is also a key Hezbollah financier as chairman and general manager of the Lebanon-based telecommunications company Spectrum Investment Group Holding SAL. He has extensive business interests in the telecommunications industry in West Africa.
"We will leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of information that will help us clamp down further on these individuals and on others they use to access the international financial system," said Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea. "Either directly or via cash smuggling networks and other seemingly legitimate businesses and investments.
"We will pay for bank records, customs forms, real estate transactions, and anything evidencing money laundering or cash smuggling," he continued. "The United States government is prepared to pay for this information, and we will award up to $10 million for leads that result in financial disruption - whether by US law enforcement sanctions or other enforcement actions."
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