U.S. blacklists family network funding Hezbollah in Latin America

U.S. blacklists family network funding Hezbollah in Latin America

The Biden administration has designated a network of family members, business associates and companies in South America and Lebanon accused of financing the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization and its destabilizing activities in Latin America.

The Treasury and State Departments announced the sanctions Tuesday, stating they target “key Hezbollah operatives and financial facilitators.”
Among those designated is Amer Mohamed Akil Rada, the 58-year-old Lebanese national described by the Treasury as a longtime Hezbollah member who was involved in the 1994 terrorist bombing of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association that killed 85 people and injured more than 300 others.

U.S. officials said he participated in the attack during his more than 10 years working in an operational role for Hezbollah in South America.
“Today’s action underscores the U.S. government’s commitment to pursuing Hezbollah operatives and financiers no matter their location,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement. “We will continue to root out those who seek to abuse the U.S. and international financial system to fund and engage in terrorism.”

Rada is accused of managing a commercial enterprise involving his brother, Samer Akil Rada, and his son, Mahdy Akil Helbawi, along with business associate Ali Ismail Ajrouch — all who were hit with sanctions Tuesday that freeze U.S. assets in their name and bar Americans from doing business with them.

The Treasury said Rada’s 42-year-old brother is also a member of the terrorist organization and is accused of being linked to crimes such as drug trafficking and money laundering throughout Latin America. He is the general manager and chief executive of the Venezuela-based BCI Technologies, which was blacklisted Tuesday over its connection to the Lebanese national.

The 35-year-old Helbawi was designated on allegations that he conducts business activities in Colombia on behalf of his father that the Treasury said are “almost certainly in an effort to evade detection and circumvent sanctions.” He is the chief executive of Zanga S.A.S., which was also hit Tuesday for being associated with Helbawi.

Lebanon-based Black Diamond SARL was sanctioned for transferring some $40,000 to Zanga S.A.S. in what was cited as a coal or charcoal deal. Ajrouch is its owner.

“Today’s action, taken in collaboration with partners in the U.S. government, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, underscores our commitment to pursuing the financiers, supporters and facilitators who sustain Hezbollah’s ability to threaten the security, stability and prosperity of Lebanon and the global financial system,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

Hezbollah was first blacklisted by the United States as a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997.

Source » upi.com