The U.S. Treasury Department targeted Hizballah's financial and logistical support network Tuesday, designating the terrorist organization's fundraisers and an operational commander. The "multinational network generates millions of dollars in funding and secures strategic geographical strongholds for Hizballah," Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey said in announcing the moves.
The designations include Ali and Husayn Tajideen, the brothers and business partners of previously designated man named Kassim Tajideen. Together, the three have reportedly funneled millions of dollars to Hizballah. At least one of the brothers, Ali, is a former Hizballah commander.
The sanctions targeted a network of businesses the brothers own or control. Those businesses—from the real estate, food and diamond trades, among other fields—spanned the globe, from Gambia, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and the British Virgin Islands. The men used the proceeds from their businesses to funnel millions of dollars in financial support to Hizballah.
In addition to striking a blow to the financial dealings of Hizballah, Treasury also designated Hizballah's chief representative in South America, Bilal Mohsen Wehbe. As chief representative, Wehbe has relayed information and direction between Hizballah leaders in Lebanon and South America.
Hizballah's presence in South America was well established even before its 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires killed 29 and wounded hundreds of others. The terrorist organization has long-used parts of the region as a training ground, in particular the tri-border region where Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay meet.
These new Treasury actions aim at further disrupting the ability of Hizballah to fundraise, plan, and train from within South America. See the recent Investigative Project on Terrorism report on Hizballah in the United States here, here, and here.