Amin Sherri and Muhammad Hasan Ra’d, who are members of Lebanon’s parliament, and Wafiq Safa, a security official was sanctioned “for acting for or on behalf” of Hezbollah, according to a statement.
It was the first time the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had designated a member of Lebanon’s Parliament under a sanctions list that targets those accused by Washington of providing support to terrorist organizations. Washington has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
“Hezbollah uses its operatives in Lebanon’s parliament to manipulate institutions in support of the terrorist group’s financial and security interests, and to bolster Iran’s malign activities,” Sigal Mandelker, Treasury’s top sanctions official, said in the statement.
Iran’s IRGC was designated as a “foreign terrorist organization” by the U.S. in April marking it the first time Washington has formally labeled another country's military a terrorist group.
OFAC said it had added Amin Sherri and Muhammad Hasan Ra’ad, both members of Lebanon’s Parliament, for acting on behalf of Hezbollah. In an unusual move, it also released photos of the individuals, including one in which Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani has his arm around Sherri’s shoulder.
OFAC said it also designated Wafiq Safa, who is in charge of Hezbollah’s Liaison and Coordination Unit responsible for coordinating with Lebanese security agencies.
The action by the U.S. Treasury bars U.S. citizens from dealing with the three individuals and blocks any assets they may hold in the United States. It also limits their ability to access the U.S. financial system.
“The message is actually that the rest of the Lebanese government needs to sever its dealings with these figures that we’re designating today,” a State Department official said.
The announcement was denounced by Lebanon's Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, according to the local newspaper Daily Star. "The sanctions concern all Lebanese though their target is Hezbollah. The measures that Lebanon has taken and the laws that have been adopted ... make these sanctions unjustified and [these measures] don't serve financial stability," he said in a tweet.
"We are committed to all legal standards linked to this matter. Lebanon is a committed country; its banks are committed to all regulations and there is no justification whatsoever to escalate these sanctions."