The Bush administration took action Tuesday against an Iran-based foundation, including its US branch, for allegedly providing support to Hizbullah, a militant Islamic group the United States has blamed for bloodshed in Lebanon. The Treasury Department's action covers the Martyrs Foundation and Goodwill Charitable Organization of Dearborn, Michigan, which the government identified as a fundraising office for the foundation. "We will not allow organizations that support terrorism to raise money in the United States," said Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
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The government also moved against al-Qard al-Hassan, a Beirut firm that the US government believes was used by Hizbullah "as a cover to manage its financial activity."
Two Lebanese - Qasem Aliq and Ahmad al-Shami - also were covered by Tuesday's order.
The US identified Aliq as a Hizbullah official who was once the director of the Martyrs Foundation's branch in Lebanon. The US says he is currently a director of Jihad al Bina, a Lebanon-based construction company allegedly formed and operated by Hizbullah.
Al-Shami had worked for the foundation in Lebanon and has been in "frequent contact" with the Goodwill Charitable Organization, the department said. Goodwill Charitable Organization sent him money to distribute to the Martyrs Foundation, the department said.
The action means that any bank accounts or other financial assets found in the United States that belong to those identified on Tuesday must be frozen. Americans also are forbidden from doing business with them.
There was no current telephone listing for Goodwill Charitable Organization.
The department called Goodwill Charitable Organization, or GCO, "a Hizbullah front organization that reports directly to the leadership of the Martyrs Foundation in Lebanon. "Hizbullah recruited GCO leaders and had maintained close contact with GCO representatives in the United States," the department stated.
Goodwill Charitable Organization has allegedly provided "financial support to Hizbullah directly and through the Martyrs Foundation in Lebanon," said the Treasury. "Hizbullah's leaders in Lebanon have instructed Hizbullah members in the United States to send their contributions to GCO and to contact the GCO for the purpose of contributing to the Martyrs Foundation," the department said.
"Since its founding, GCO has sent a significant amount of money to the Martyrs Foundation in Lebanon," Treasury said.
The department alleged that the Martyrs Foundation channels financial support from Iran to Hizbullah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or PIJ, as well as other terrorist groups.
The US says that senior foundation officials were directly involved in Hizbullah operations against Israel last summer.