Senate Passes Bill Leveling Sanctions Against Hezbollah
The United States Senate unanimously passed a bill on Thursday that levels sanctions against Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy group that has been dubbed by the State Department as a terrorist organization.
The bill, titled the “Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017”, was spearheaded by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NJ) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) and would implement economic sanctions toward people and businesses abroad that “provide significant financial, material or technological support to entities known to fundraise or recruit on behalf of” Hezbollah, per a press release from Rubio’s office. Hezbollah would also face sanctions for their various criminal activities, which include drug and animal trafficking.
Additionally, the bill would require President Trump to notify Congress about any foreign governments that are “facilitating transactions on behalf of” Hezbollah.
Rubio said in a statement, “Iranian-backed Hizballah terrorists are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, and continue to pose grave threats to the United States and our allies, including the democratic state of Israel. The president and Congress should build on the successes of our 2015 law that targets Hizballah, its proxies and its enablers, and enact this new bill to strengthen international efforts to combat the financing and expansion of Hizballah’s terrorist and missile threats, as well as its narcotics trafficking and other transnational criminal activities.”
The Florida senator added, “I’m glad the Senate passed our bill, and I look forward to working with the House to enact these provisions into law.”
Shaheen said in a statement that “Congress should exercise every tool at its disposal to confront Iran’s destabilizing activity in the region outside of the Iran nuclear deal, particularly in Lebanon, where Hizballah continues to stockpile rockets and other weapons that directly threaten our ally Israel and provide military support to the murderous Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.” Crapo touted the bill as “economic and logistical sanctions on Hizballah, significantly cutting off the flow of resources toward its fundraising and recruitment activities.”
In 2015, Rubio and Shaheen co-sponsored a bill with Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) that was signed into law by then-President Obama imposing sanctions against companies that do business with Hezbollah. The 2017 bill takes the 2015 bill and expands it even further.
The bill’s passage comes amidst the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducting drills and fortifying its borders in preparation for a possible war with Hezbollah. The Shia terror organization has developed more sophisticated methods of warfare from fighting in the Syrian civil war to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power and has amassed over 100,000 rockets.
However, the IDF has noted that Hezbollah is in financial dire straits due to Iran’s financial problems and prior U.S. sanctions. Hezbollah is also facing internal conflict after the group’s leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, ordered the assassination of Moustafa Badreddine, one of the group’s top commanders in Syria.
The Shia terror group also has a wide network in the United States, where it has conducted cyber activities and orchestrated various money laundering schemes. Nasrallah himself recently accused the U.S. of “working to hinder the battle against Islamic State.”