Iran

Senate Unanimously Passes Bill Targeting Hezbollah Funding

The Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would crack down on Hezbollah’s financing, The Hill reported Tuesday.

The legislation would let the administration sanction any banks that knowingly work with Hezbollah or supporters of the group. It would also require the administration to hand over a report detailing foreign financial institutions that are aiding the terrorist group or supporters.  …

The bill would also require the administration to detail what countries that group has support networks in, what steps the foreign governments are taking to disrupt those networks, and how the administration is encouraging other countries to do more. …

The legislation would require the administration to identify any Internet and telecommunications companies that knowingly contract with al-Manar, a Hezbollah-affiliated TV station, as well as give to lawmakers a list of which companies have been sanctioned and which have not.

The bill would also require reports and briefings on Hezbollah’s criminal and drug trafficking activities and determine the procedures necessary to have it declared a “significant transnational criminal organization.” The bill was sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R – Fla.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D – N.H.).

On his website, Rubio, a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, said that the United States “cannot afford to jeopardize our national security by letting Iran’s leading terrorist proxy, Hizballah, continue to pose a direct threat to us and our allies including Israel. It is time for us to reveal the expansiveness of its dangerous network, and guarantee that our government is focused on eliminating this terrorist group.”

“Hizballah has American blood on its hands and remains an ever-present threat to our national defense and our allies, especially Israel,” Shaheen added. “The U.S. government must be relentless in disrupting Hizballah’s operations. This legislation turns the screws on its network of support and sends a message to Tehran that there will be zero tolerance for financing terrorism.”

The House of Representatives passed a companion bill in May. “Hezbollah is one of the most dangerous and deadly terrorist organizations in the world and has shown its willingness to attack around the globe,” Rep. Ted Deutch (D – Fla.), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said at the time. “From arms dealing to drug trafficking to money laundering, Hezbollah relies on a sophisticated global financial network to fund its terrorist activities around the world.

The bill comes amid concerns that the Obama administration is tolerating Iran’s role in arming and supporting Hezbollah, despite past assurances by the White House that it would insist that Iran comply with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 and stop aiding Hezbollah.

[Photo: Cliff / Flickr ]