BEIRUT: The U.S. sanctions Thursday what it says is a Hezbollah front company for supplying the Lebanese group with military equipment, which was used in developing drones for use in Syria.
In a statement, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington targeted a key Hezbollah procurement network by issuing sanctions against brothers Kamel Mohamad Amhaz and Issam Mohamad Amhaz; their business, Stars Group Holding -- which is based in Beirut and has subsidiaries in China and the UAE -- and certain managers and individuals who supported their illicit activities.
Kamel Amhaz is the president and CEO of the company, which provides mobile communications solutions for corporate and home users in Lebanon and abroad.
It has three branches in Beirut’s southern suburbs, known for their Hezbollah support base.
Such front companies obtain dual-use material for Hezbollah to enhance its military capabilities, Psaki said.
“Stars Group Holding has covertly purchased sophisticated electronics and other technology from suppliers around the world, including a range of engines, communications, electronics and navigation equipment. These materials have directly supported Hezbollah’s development of unmanned aerial vehicles for its destructive military activities in Syria.”
Quoting senior U.S. officials, the Washington Post said the sanctions targeted a network of firms in Lebanon, the UAE and China, and that it was run outside of Beirut.
The company’s activities are in violation of U.S. exports law.
The U.S. sanctions ban American entities from conducting any business with Stars Groups Holding of Beirut, its subsidiaries and its top managers. The measures also require the freezing of any assets held by the blacklisted entities inside the U.S. financial system.
“Today’s designation illustrates yet again the extent of Hezbollah’s international presence and reach. We call on our partners to take action against Hezbollah’s illicit networks, which fuel its violent political agenda and enhance its ability to engage in destabilizing activities in Syria, throughout the Middle East more broadly, and around the world,” Psaki said.
"With disturbing reach far beyond Lebanon, Hezbollah's extensive procurement networks exploit the international financial system to enhance its military capabilities in Syria and its terrorist activities worldwide," David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said Thursday. "This global terrorist activity and expanding criminal network belie Hezbollah's claimed purpose as a national liberation movement."
"It is critical that countries throughout the world work together to combat this dangerous organization and sever it from sources of revenue and support," Cohen said.