MidEast

Hezbollah Suspected in Bombing of Beirut Bank that Enforced Sanctions

Two people were injured on Sunday after a bomb exploded outside the headquarters of a Beirut bank that had enforced sanctions on the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.

Blom Bank has recently closed the accounts of individuals suspected of having links to Hezbollah in order to comply with U.S. law, Reuters reported. The Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, which was signed into law in December, requires banks to cease any business dealings with the group to avoid being blocked from the American financial system. Though there has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, Hezbollah is suspected to have been involved, Al-Jazeera reported.

The bomb was hidden in a flower pot and contained roughly 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of explosives, according to Ibrahim Basbous, Lebanon’s internal security chief. The blast left a hole in a concrete wall and shattered glass on the ground.

“Politically it is clear that the target was Blom Bank only,” said Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk. He added that the bombing was not linked to the Islamic State.

“We have entered a cycle of attacks,” Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Druze minority’s Progressive Socialist Party, told LBC television. He called for a “roadmap between Hezbollah and [Lebanese] banks” to alleviate tensions.

“Our battle with terrorism, bombings, killings, assassinations and direct and indirect messages is long,” said MP Saad al-Hariri, leader of the Future Movement, which is primarily supported by Lebanese Sunnis. “Terrorism will not intimidate the Lebanese,” he added. Hariri’s father Rafic, the former prime minister of Lebanon, was assassinated in 2004. A United Nations investigation implicated Hezbollah in the killing.

Hezbollah has been said to be experiencing financial woes recently, with the U.S. law compounding the stresses caused by the group’s heavy involvement in the Syrian civil war. Lebanese media reports in December indicated that Hezbollah failed to pay salaries to its officials for that month and November.

The group seems to be supplementing its income with drag trafficking operations across Latin America. Michael Braun, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s former chief of operations, told Congress last week that Hezbollah is “moving [multiple] tons of cocaine” to Europe from South America. The group has “metastasized into a hydra with international connections that the likes of [the Islamic State] and groups like al Qaeda could only hope to have,” he added.

[Photo: PressTV / YouTube]