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In largely symbolic move, U.S. sanctions Nasrallah

This TV frame grab shows Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah. (The Daily Star/TV grab)

WASHINGTON: The U.S. Treasury sanctioned Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah Thursday for helping Syria crush anti-government protests, as well as two other members for the group’s “terrorist activities” in general.

Sanctions experts described the move against Nasrallah as symbolic because the penalties – freezing any assets he holds in U.S. banks – had been imposed under earlier U.S. sanctions.

The Treasury said it had “designated” Nasrallah under U.S. Executive Order 13582, signed by President Barack Obama in August 2011 in part to crack down on those helping Syria repress the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s rule.

The Treasury also said it sanctioned two other Hezbollah members: Mustafa Amine Badreddine, who has been accused by the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the 2005 killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and a man it identified as Talal Hamiyah, the head of Hezbollah’s external security organization.

Those two were targeted under Executive Order 13224 “for providing support to Hezbollah’s terrorist activities in the Middle East and around the world,” the Treasury said in a written statement. That order freezes the targets’ assets that fall under U.S. jurisdiction.

“By aiding Assad’s violent campaign against the Syrian people and working to support a regime that will inevitably fall, Hezbollah’s ongoing activity undermines regional stability and poses a direct threat to Lebanon’s security,” Undersecretary of the Treasury David Cohen said in the statement.

“Hezbollah’s actions ... clearly reveal its true nature as a terrorist and criminal organization.” Saying Hezbollah had long been supported by the Assad government, the Treasury Department said the militant group “is now returning the favor by providing training, advice and extensive logistical support ... as the Assad regime continues to wreak havoc on the Syrian people through the use of terror and violence – Hezbollah’s area of expertise.”

Asked about the Treasury’s action against Nasrallah, sanctions lawyer Douglas Jacobson said: “In reality, it’s symbolic. It’s simply piling on to include an additional designation for his alleged role with respect to Syria.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 14, 2012, on page 1.

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