The US State Department is offering up to $10 million in reward money for information “leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of the global terrorist organization Lebanese Hezbollah.”
— Hiba Nasr (@HibaNasr) April 22, 2019
All of the information is also being disseminated in Arabic.
“Rewards can be provided for information leading to the identification and disruption of:
- a source of revenue for Hizballah or its key financial facilitation mechanisms;
- major Hizballah donors or financial facilitators;
- financial institutions or exchange houses facilitating Hizballah transactions;
- businesses or investments owned or controlled by Hizballah or its financiers;
- front companies engaged in international procurement of dual-use technology on behalf of Hizballah; and
- criminal schemes involving Hizballah members and supporters which financially benefit the organization.”
According to the statement, and the US repeated claims, Iran is to blame in the situation, since it has been a state sponsor of terrorism since 1984. Hezbollah “receives weapons, training, and funding” from the Islamic Republic.
“Hizballah generates about a billion dollars a year from a combination of direct financial support from Iran, international businesses and investments, donor networks, and money laundering activities. The State Department designated Hizballah as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in October 1997 under the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) in October 2001 under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.”
The modern Wild West-style wanted poster also identifies three individuals among many that are key Hezbollah financiers or facilitators.
- Adham Tabaja – a Hezbollah member who communicates directly with the senior leadership of the group. He holds properties on behalf of it in Lebanon, as well as in the Middle East and West Africa. He has been designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SGDT) by the US since June 2015, in addition to his Lebanon-based real estate development and construction firm Al-Inmaa Group for Tourism Works.
- Mohammad Ibrahim Bazzi – a Hezbollah member who has generated millions for the group through his business activities in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He and his companies have been designated as SGDTs by the US since May 2018.
- Ali Youssef Charara – a key Hizballah financier as well as Chairman and General Manager of Lebanon-based telecommunications company Spectrum Investment Group Holding SAL, and has extensive business interests in the telecommunications industry in West Africa. He has been designated as a SGDT, as well as Spectrum Investment Group since January 2016.
The U.S. Department of State is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of Lebanese Hizballah. If you have information, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate or email LH@rewardsforjustice.net. pic.twitter.com/5Xc16RBnDl
— Rewards for Justice (@Rewards4Justice) April 22, 2019
The Rewards For Justice program has also been offering a reward of up to $5 million for information on Salih al-Aruri, Khalil Yusuf Mahmoud Harb and Haytham ‘Ali Tabataba’I since November 2018. All of them are alleged Hezbollah members and judging by the retweet on April 16th, 2019 the search hasn’t proven fruitful.
UP TO $5 MILLION REWARD!! Submit a tip for these terrorist leaders and you may be considered for a reward. Relocation possible. 100% confidential. $150 million has been paid out to 100 sources- you could be the next recipient. https://t.co/LtBVhsrwTc #RFJ pic.twitter.com/etpqtAJDCH
— Rewards for Justice (@Rewards4Justice) November 13, 2018
This attempt is one more US step taken towards its attempts to pressure Iran and Hezbollah in the Middle East. This comes just two days after US President Donald Trump announced that no waivers from US sanctions on Iran’s oil exports will be given.
The tensions between Israel and Hezbollah have also been worsening over the last months, especially leading up to the elections in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won his 5th term.
In early February, Israel’s Defense Forces conducted “massive” drills to “simulate conditions of war with Hezbollah.”
The exercise was the largest one carried out by the 401st Brigade of the Armored Corps in the last several years. Dozens of battle tanks, armored personnel carriers and helicopters were deployed in the training zone in the Jordan Valley
נסראללה בלחץ? חטיבה 401 של חיל השריון ביצעה השבוע תרגיל גדול שנועד לדמות לחימה בלבנון, ובו התאמנו הלוחמים על תיאום עם כוחות של חיל האוויר, ההנדסה והמודיעין | צפו בתיעוד מהאימון @ndvori
— החדשות (@NewsChannelIL) February 15, 2019
“As the situation in Syria stabilizes, Hezbollah is returning its forces to Lebanon,” The brigade’s commander, Col. Dudu Sonago said. “They are no longer a guerrilla organization, but a real army. They fought there in regiments of companies and battalions, very similar to the military. They operate in civilian areas and are ready with a large quantity of anti-tank missiles,” the Colonel added. “This is a challenge the IDF must train for.”
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah dismissed the effectiveness of the Israeli operation.
In mid-January 2019, Israel also found the 6th “biggest and last” Hezbollah tunnel leading from Lebanon into Israeli soil.
The IDF announced that its search had come to an end, since it had discovered the last one.
“With the discover of this terror tunnel, the effort to locate the passages dug by Hezbollah that crossed the border into Israeli territory has been completed. The neutralization of this passage will be completed in the coming days,” the army said in a statement.
“According to our intelligence and our assessment of the situation there are no longer any cross-border attack tunnels from Lebanon into Israel,” army spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.
Operation Northern Shield was launched by the IDF on December 4th, two days after police recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for corruption and four months before elections.
According to an official version, Israel had known for the tunnels for years prior to “discovering” them, but they kept it for a situation in which Netanyahu can create an enemy and prove himself necessary to the Israeli people.
The declared reason why the tunnels weren’t destroyed earlier was that it wasn’t assessed they posed any danger.
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