The United States announced multi-million dollar rewards for information on two Hezbollah operatives, and the top U.S. counterterror official said that intelligence agencies have assessed that Hezbollah is “determined” to attack the U.S. homeland, at a State Department briefing Tuesday.
Nathan Sales, Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism, announced that the State Department was offering rewards for two top Hezbollah officials.
A reward of up to $7 million is being offered for information leading to the capture of Talal Hamiyah and one of up to $5 million for information leading to the capture of Fuad Shukr.
According to Sales, Hamiyah, who heads Hezbollah’s “External Security Organization” which executes terror attacks outside of Lebanon, has been implicated on a number of attacks, hijackings and kidnappings that have targeted American citizens. Shukr, a member of Hezbollah’s Jihad Council, the terror group’s highest military body. Shukr is also implicated in planning the 1983 bombing of U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Marines.
Sales noted that the U.S. had prosecuted 21 Hezbollah members and had designated over 100 individuals and entities around the world for their associations with Hezbollah.
He also observed that the U.S. was not alone in designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Arab League, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and European Union have all done so too. However Sales said “more work needs to be done” referring to regions where Hezbollah has not be designated a terrorist organization or where countries have only designated Hezbollah’s “military” wing. “Make no mistake – Hizballah has no political wing,” Sales said. “It is a single organization, a terrorist organization, and it is rotten to its core.”
After noting the global nature of the terror threat presented by Hezbollah, including the 2012 terror attack that killed 5 Israelis in Bulgaria, and that a “number of Hizballah operatives have been caught laying the groundwork for attacks in places like Azerbaijan, in Egypt, in Thailand, in Cyprus, and in Peru, Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said that the intelligence community has seen “continued activity on behalf of Hizballah here inside the homeland.”
Noting that the arrest of two Hezbollah operatives in June in the United States served as “a stark reminder” of the terror organization’s global reach, Rasmussen said, “It’s our assessment that Hizballah is determined to give itself a potential homeland option as a critical component of its terrorism playbook, and that is something that those of us in the counterterrorism community take very, very seriously.”
Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terror group, boasted last month that without it, the Lebanese army is nothing.
In July Rasmussen had identified Hezbollah as a direct threat to the United States.
[Photo: U.S. Department of State / YouTube]