U.S. Treasury Moves on Hizbullah Operatives

WASHINGTON (AP) -

The United States has slapped sanctions Thursday on four members of Hizbullah, whose operations throughout the Mideast and beyond show how far the Lebanon-based terrorist group’s reach has spread.

The Treasury Department order bars any Americans from dealing with the terrorists and freezes any money they may have in the U.S. Treasury. Undersecretary David Cohen predicted other financial institutions across the world, including in Lebanon, could follow suit.

Cohen, who oversees terrorism and financial intelligence issues, described the four as either high-ranking Hizbullah operatives or those directly tasked with carrying out operations. Newly-declassified details about their missions show Hizbullah’s reach across much of the Sunni-dominated Mideast and into Africa and Europe, Cohen said.

The Treasury Department previously has imposed sanctions on Hizbullah, as recently as last month.

Two of the operatives sanctioned last Thursday have together seeded Hizbullah’s influence in nearly every Mideast country for more than two decades.

Treasury officials said Khalil Harb, a senior Hizbullah commander, has overseen operations since 1988, starting in southern Lebanon and working his way up to directing plots in Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Egypt and Yemen. He also has served as Hizbullah’s military liaison between Iran and Palestinian-based groups, officials said.

In Iraq, Mohammed Kawtharani has headed Hizbullah’s outreach — both in giving training, funding and other aid to local Shiite terrorists, and also in providing political advice.

The sanctions also were imposed on two terrorists —  Mohammed Yusuf Ahmad Mansour and Mohammed Qabalan — accused of plotting to attack Israeli tourists in Egypt in 2008. Mansour was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to an Egyptian prison but escaped.