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U.S. imposes sanctions on Hezbollah 'ambassadors'

June 11, 2013|By Paul Richter
  • Lebanese and Syrian activists hold Syrian revolution flags during a protest in Beirut against the participation of Hezbollah in the Syrian war.
Lebanese and Syrian activists hold Syrian revolution flags during a protest… (Bilal Hussein / Associated…)

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed sanctions on four Lebanese men whom U.S. officials say are fundraising and recruiting for Hezbollah in connection with the militant group’s efforts to expand its influence in West Africa.

The four men were acting as “ambassadors” for the group in Sierra Leone, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Gambia, the officials said.

The sanctions freeze any assets the men may have in the United States and sever them from any contact with the U.S. financial system. It was not clear immediately how much they have in the control of American institutions.

The sanctions grew out of an investigation of what Treasury said are Hezbollah’s expanding activities abroad, including in South America, the Middle East and Africa. The group has been designated by the Obama administration as a foreign terrorist organization.

Hezbollah also has been playing a growing military role in the Syrian civil war, defending the rule of President Bashar Assad.

Treasury cited “the alarming reach of Hezbollah’s activities” in citing Ali Ibrahim Watfa, Abbas Loutfe Jawaz, Ali Achmad Chehade and Hicham Nmer Khanafer.

In April, U.S. officials accused two Lebanese money-exchange houses of moving millions in drug profits through the U.S. financial system to help Hezbollah.

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