Monday, January 21, 2019

(JNS) A U.S. official on Tuesday urged the Lebanese government to sever all financial ties with the Iranian terror proxy Hezbollah.

“[America urges] Lebanon to take every possible measure to ensure [Hezbollah] is not part of the financial sector,” said Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea, according to a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon.

Billingslea also stressed “the importance of countering Iranian malign activity in Lebanon.”

Although the U.S. officially designates Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, the Shi’a group is part of the Lebanese government and is by far the most powerful actor within the country in terms of political and military strength.

Billingslea’s statements on Hezbollah came two weeks after the Trump administration initiated new action to disrupt the terror organization’s global financial network and drug trafficking operations in the U.S.

Washington’s initiative to crack down on the terror group followed revelations last December that the Obama administration allowed Hezbollah to traffic drugs and launder money, in some cases within the U.S., during its bid to secure the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

In July 2017, during a bilateral meeting at the White House, President Donald Trump told Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri that Hezbollah is a “menace” and a threat to Lebanon, Israel and the entire Middle East.