Tuesday, September 12, 2023

US Sanctions Hezbollah-Financing Network in Lebanon-South America | TOME


The US Treasury has imposed terrorism sanctions on a family network of individuals and businesses in Lebanon and South America for allegedly financing the militant group Hezbollah. Among those targeted is Amer Mohamed Akil Rada, who is said to have been involved in two deadly attacks in Argentina in the 1990s. The Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association attack in Buenos Aires in 1994 killed 85 people and wounded hundreds, while a 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina killed 29 people. The US government has emphasized its commitment to pursuing Hezbollah operatives and financiers regardless of their location.

Hezbollah, an Iran-backed group, is designated as a “foreign terrorist organization” by the US. In addition to its involvement in terrorism, Washington claims that the group has been engaged in drug trafficking in Latin America to generate revenue. Rada, who spent over a decade in South America before relocating to Lebanon, allegedly ran a charcoal business that exported from Colombia to Lebanon. The Treasury alleges that he used 80% of the proceeds from his commercial enterprise to benefit Hezbollah.

Rada’s brother, Samer, has also been sanctioned for his alleged involvement in drug trafficking and money laundering operations across Latin America. He was previously based in Belize but fled due to a drug-related case. Samer was reportedly involved in smuggling 500 kilograms of cocaine worth $15 million hidden in fruit shipments seized in El Salvador. He is also the head of BCI Technologies CA, a Venezuelan-based company that some reports describe as a prominent cryptocurrency consultancy firm.

The US has also targeted Rada’s son, Mehdi Akil Helbawi, and his Colombia-based venture Zanga S.A.S., a coal exporting company that officials say Rada used to fund Hezbollah. Additionally, the Treasury has imposed sanctions on Lebanon-based company Black Diamond SARL and its owner Ali Ismail Ajrouch. The company allegedly transferred around $40,000 to the Colombia-based coal company.

These sanctions are part of the US government’s ongoing efforts to disrupt Hezbollah’s financial networks and undermine its ability to carry out terrorist activities. By targeting individuals and businesses involved in financing the group, the US aims to cut off its sources of funding and weaken its operations. The Treasury’s under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, emphasized the government’s commitment to pursuing Hezbollah operatives and financiers, regardless of where they are located.

Hezbollah has long been a concern for the US and its allies due to its involvement in terrorism and destabilizing activities in the Middle East. The group has been accused of carrying out attacks against Israeli and Western targets, as well as supporting other militant groups in the region. By targeting Hezbollah’s financial networks, the US hopes to disrupt its operations and reduce its ability to carry out attacks.

The sanctions imposed on the Rada family network and associated businesses highlight the US government’s determination to combat terrorism and disrupt the financing of extremist groups. By targeting individuals and businesses involved in financing Hezbollah, the US aims to weaken the group’s capabilities and prevent it from carrying out further attacks. These sanctions serve as a reminder that the US will continue to pursue those who support terrorism, regardless of their location, in order to safeguard national security and protect innocent lives.

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