On Thursday, the United States Senate passed the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017 (S. 1595), which seeks to cut off the flow of resources to the Lebanese-based terrorist organization. The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).
“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,” Rubio said in a statement.
“Congress should exercise every tool at its disposal to confront Iran’s destabilizing activity in the region…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,” Shaheen added.
The new legislation strengthens and expands the scope of economic and financial sanctions imposed on the terrorist group by previous legislation, the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015.
It is a significant development in light of Hezbollah’s destabilizing regional activities and the group’s global reach to areas in the Western Hemisphere, where Hezbollah is involved in organized crime. The organization has been linked to drug trade, trafficking of exotic animals, and black-market sales of precious metals and gems to finance its terror activities and its fighting in support of the Assad regime in Syria.
The legislation allows international law enforcement agencies, such as Interpol, to target the terrorist group’s global financing network. An estimated 20 to 30 percent—or between $200 and $300 million per year—of Hezbollah’s $1 billion annual budget comes from sources other than the Iranian regime.
The Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017 targets foreign governments that provide financial support to the group, as well as foreign individuals and companies that aid its fundraising or recruitment activities. In addition, the bill requires the government to provide Congress with information on Hezbollah’s illicit activities, which legislators could use to better fund the resources necessary to counter the terrorist group.
[Photo: Marc Nozell / Flickr ]