WASHINGTON, June 11 (UPI) -- The United States Tuesday placed economic sanctions on four Lebanese supporters of the Middle East terror group Hezbollah.
The U.S. Treasury Department said in a release Ali Ibrahim al-Watfa, Abbas Loutfe Fawaz, Ali Ahmad Chehade and Hicham Nmer Khanafer are responsible for Hezbollah's activities in Sierra Leone, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Gambia respectively.
Treasury officials said the four have organized fundraising efforts, recruited members and, in some cases, acted as ambassadors of Hezbollah's Foreign Relations Department.
"Even as Hezbollah claims to be a resistance organization, its expansive global network is sending money and operatives to carry out terrorist attacks around the world and fighters to the front lines of the Syrian civil war," the Treasury Department release stated.
"As Hezbollah continues to use its global network of operatives and supporters to extend its malign influence beyond the borders of Lebanon, we will continue to use all tools at our disposal take action to disrupt these efforts," David S. Cohen, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said. "These actions are increasingly important as the funding from Hezbollah's traditional patron, Iran, is squeezed by international sanctions."
The Treasury Department also cited Hezbollah's links to what it called vast narcotics trafficking and money laundering operations of narcotics kingpin Ayman Joumaa and Lebanese exchange houses it says transfer illicit profits into the international financial system. The department said it has also targeted Hezbollah support networks run by Ali Mohamad Saleh in South America.
Under the sanctions, Americans are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with the four individuals designated, and any assets of those designees subject to U.S. jurisdiction are frozen.