U.S. sanctions Lebanon's Jammal Trust Bank for financial ties to Hezbollah

"It sends the message loud and clear that the United States is very serious about disrupting terrorist activity and will continue to take action where we believe it’s warranted," the official said.

By REUTERS,
August 30, 2019 04:11
1 minute read.
Members of Hezbollah march with party's flags during a rally marking al-Quds Day, (Jerusalem Day) in

Members of Hezbollah march with party's flags during a rally marking al-Quds Day, (Jerusalem Day) in Beirut. (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON - The United States on Thursday sanctioned Lebanon-based Jammal Trust Bank SAL and its subsidiaries for allegedly facilitating the financial activities of Hezbollah, according to the Treasury Department, which said the bank funnels money to the families of suicide bombers.

The United States is determined to cut off support in Lebanon for the group, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement, adding that "Jammal Trust’s misconduct undermines the integrity of the Lebanese financial system."

Since 1997, the United States has labeled Hezbollah a terrorist group, saying it threatens the peace and stability of the Middle East and is backed by Iran. Jammal Trust is a 50-year-old commercial bank with branches throughout Lebanon, according to its website.

"Individuals and entities who support Iranian-affiliated terrorist groups will continue to pay a price: there is nowhere to run from the long reach of U.S. sanctions," US National Security Adviser John Bolton commented in a tweet.

A senior administration official told reporters in a conference call laying out the sanctions that "we do have a very good relationship with the central bank of Lebanon and we have confidence that they'll take the right action here."

"It sends the message loud and clear that the United States is very serious about disrupting terrorist activity and will continue to take action where we believe it’s warranted," the official said.

But the Lebanese association of banks said it regretted the decision. In a statement cited by local media, the association said the move would not affect Lebanon’s banking sector and reassured depositors their money in the bank would be fine.

Separately, the United States also sanctioned four individuals for moving money from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to Hamas through Hezbollah.

The US decision was praised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I commend President Trump and the American administration for the important decision to impose sanctions on a Lebanese bank that serves as an Iranian financing arm for the Hezbollah terrorist organization,” Netanyahu commented.

“This is an important step designed to put pressure on Iran and its proxies, which are acting against the State of Israel. I also call on other countries to take action against the Iranian aggression in the Middle East,” he added.



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