Wednesday, June 21, 2017

State Department Amendments to the Terrorist Designations of Hizballah and al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 21, 2017

The Department of State has amended the designation of Hizballah as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 and as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to add aliases including Lebanese Hizballah, which is frequently used to refer to the group, as well as the Foreign Relations Department (FRD) and the External Security Organization (ESO), key components of the terror organization. The Department of State has also amended the designation of al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as an SDGT under section 1(b) of E.O. 13224 and as an FTO under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to add the aliases Sons of Abyan, Sons of Hadramawt, Sons of Hadramawt Committee, Civil Council of Hadramawt, and National Hadramawt Council.

U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with Hizballah or AQAP, and all property and interests in property of the organizations subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked. In addition, knowingly providing, or attempting or conspiring to provide, material support or resources to the organizations is prohibited.

Hizballah, which was originally designated as an FTO in 1997, operates through, among other parts of the group, its branches the FRD and the ESO, also known as the Islamic Jihad Organization. The FRD maintains Hizballah's public presence around the world. The branch is led by senior Hizballah member Ali Damush, designated by the Department of State as an SDGT in January 2017. The FRD is involved in covert operations around the globe, which include recruiting, fundraising and gathering intelligence on behalf of Hizballah.

Hizballah's ESO was established by now-deceased Hizballah leader Imad Mughniyah and was led by Talal Hamiyah as of September 2012. The branch is responsible for planning and carrying out Hizballah attacks outside of Lebanon. The attacks have primarily targeted Israelis and Americans.

Sons of Abyan, Sons of Hadramawt, Sons of Hadramawt Committee, Civil Council of Hadramawt, and National Hadramawt Council all serve as proxies or cover organizations for AQAP, which was designated as an FTO in 2010. AQAP uses these proxies to help govern the territories it controls, and to manage issues such as administration, economics, security, and building relationships with citizens.

Today's actions notify the U.S. public and the international community that the terrorist organizations Hizballah and AQAP operate under and/or are known by a variety of other names. Terrorism designations expose and isolate organizations and individuals, and result in denial of access to the U.S. financial system. Moreover, designations can assist or complement the law enforcement actions of other U.S. agencies and other governments.

A list of State Department-designated FTOs and SDGTs is available here: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/list/index.htm.



Wednesday, June 07, 2017

U.S. Central Command Commander General Joseph L. Votel Statement at Dahr Al Jabl Overlook (Arsal, Lebanon)

By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 7 June, 2017
It is wonderful to be back in Lebanon and here up in Arsal.  We deeply value the relationship with the Lebanese Armed Forces and the work they are doing to keep Lebanon safe, as we're seeing here today.

I had good visits yesterday and this morning with President (Michel) Aoun, and with Prime Minister (Saad) Hariri, and with the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Gebran) Bassil and Speaker of Parliament (Nabih) Berri, and with the military leadership, namely the Minister of Defense (Yakoub) Sarraf and General (Joseph) Aoun, the Chief of Defense.  We had very productive conversations and we've reaffirmed our shared commitment to ensuring stability and security in this important part of the world.  We have many common interests that include the defeat of Da'esh and other violent extremist and terrorist organizations, and we intend to continue to work together to address these and the other challenges that are presented to us.

I appreciate the opportunity to visit the 9th Brigade here at Arsal.  We thank the Commander and his team for their warm and gracious hospitality.  I was proud to meet with some of the soldiers and commanders defending Lebanon's sovereignty and I'm very impressed to see the progress that they've made in securing Lebanon's borders with Syria.  The Lebanese Armed Forces remain among the most capable and valued partners and we are proud to support them as the sole defenders of Lebanon.  We look forward to building upon the strong foundation that exists between our militaries in the coming days.  In these challenging times, I remain confident that there are no difficulties that cannot be overcome, so long as we are willing to work together.

Again, I appreciate the warm welcome and the wonderful hospitality that we've received here in Lebanon.  Thank you all very much.

Friday, May 19, 2017

State Department Terrorist Designations of Hashem Safieddine and Muhammad al-Isawi

State Department Terrorist Designations of Hashem Safieddine and Muhammad al-Isawi


Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 19, 2017


The Department of State has designated Hashem Safieddine and Muhammad al-Isawi as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) under Section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which imposes sanctions on foreign persons who have committed, or pose a serious risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States. As a consequence of these designations, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with Safieddine and al-Isawi, and all of Safieddine's and al-Isawi's property and interests in property subject to United States jurisdiction are blocked.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia joined the United States in designating Hashem Safieddine. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia designated Safieddine under its Law of Terrorism Crimes and Financing and Royal Decree A/44. As a result, any of his assets held in Saudi Arabia are frozen, and transfers through the Kingdom's financial sector, are prohibited.

Hashem Safieddine is a senior leader in Hizballah, a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and SDGT entity supported by Iran. Safieddine is a key member of Hizballah's executive council, which oversees Hizballah's political, organizational, social, and educational activities. Hizballah is responsible for such terrorist attacks as the suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut in 1984, and the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847.

Muhammad al-Isawi, more commonly known as Abu Usama al-Masri, has been ISIS' affiliate in the Sinai's leader since the death of Abu Du'a al-Ansari in August 2016. Prior to being selected as leader of ISIS' affiliate in the Sinai, he was the group's media spokesman. He also spent time in an Egyptian prison before escaping during the 2011 Egyptian revolution. ISIS' affiliate in the Sinai originally operated under the name Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which was designated as an FTO in September 2014. The State Department amended the group's FTO designation to include ISIS' affiliate in the Sinai on September 30, 2015.

Today's actions notify the U.S. public and the international community that Safieddine and al-Isawi pose a serious risk of committing acts of terrorism that threaten the national security and foreign policy of the United States. The action against Safieddine is the latest example of the strong partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia in combatting the financing of terrorism. The Safieddine designation is also consistent with the U.S. government's ongoing effort to expose and apply pressure against the actions of Hizballah, which is supported by the foremost State Sponsor of Terrorism, Iran. Designations of terrorist individuals and groups expose and isolate organizations and individuals and result in denial of access to the U.S. financial system. Moreover, designations can assist or complement the law enforcement actions of other U.S. agencies and other governments.

A list of State Department-designated FTOs and SDGTs is available here.

Identifiers:

Name: Hashem Safieddine
AKA: Hashem Safi al-Din
AKA: Hashem Safi a-Din
AKA: Hashim Safi al Din
AKA: Hashim Safi Al-Din
AKA: Hashim Safieddine
POB: Lebanon
DOB Circa 1964
Location: Lebanon
 
Name: Muhammad Ahmad 'Ali al-Isawi
AKA: Abu Osama al-Masri
AKA: Abu Usamah al-Masri
DOB: Circa 1973
POB: Sinai Province, Egypt
Location: Egypt


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Treasury Hosts Meeting of the Law Enforcement Coordination Group Focused on Countering Hizballah’s Terrorist Activities

5/8/2017 ​
 
Washington – On May 4-5, 2017, the U.S. Department of the Treasury hosted the fourth meeting of the Law Enforcement Coordination Group (LECG) focused on countering Hizballah's terrorist and illicit activities.
  
Counterterrorism policymakers and practitioners from more than 20 governments – from across the Middle East, South America, Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, and North America – along with Europol and Interpol, participated in this LECG meeting.  The LECG session focused on Hizballah's terrorist financing-related and criminal activities, and discussed how law enforcement and financial tools, including sanctions, could be most effectively utilized to counter these threats.   
 
"The Law Enforcement Coordination Group is a unique platform that harnesses the expertise and capacity of critical partners across the globe to counter the threat posed by Hizballah," said Jennifer Fowler, Acting Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing.  "We are going to continue to work within the LECG to share information, collaborate, and develop strategies to disrupt Hizballah's financial activities and support."
 
Participating governments discussed how international cooperation against Hizballah's terrorist and illicit activities could be improved going forward.  In addition to Treasury, officials from the U.S. State Department, Justice Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Counterterrorism Center, and Department of Homeland Security all participated in this meeting. 
 
The LECG, which was originally established in 2014, will convene for its 5th meeting in late 2017.  

Friday, May 05, 2017

United States Provides Border Security Equipment to Lebanese Armed Forces

By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 5 May, 2017


On behalf of the United States, Ambassador Elizabeth Richard today presented over 1000 machine guns to the Lebanese Armed Forces as part of the LAF's ongoing efforts to improve border security.  The equipment includes 800 heavy machine guns and another 320 crew-served weapons, adding to battle-tested equipment already in the hands of the LAF.  The machine guns will be used to increase firepower along Lebanon's borders and will allow Land Border Regiments in the LAF to occupy and defend their border positions on schedule.

In a ceremony at the Logistics Brigade Headquarters at Kfarshima, attended by LAF Brigadier General Farah and Brigadier General Abi Nasif, Ambassador Richard highlighted the important role the LAF plays in addressing the serious challenges Lebanon faces, many of which arise from the conflict in Syria.  She noted that the handover of this new shipment of weapons is another example of the ongoing U.S. government program to improve the LAF's capabilities to carry out its mission as the sole defender of Lebanon.  Ambassador Richard said, "Today, I am happy to be with you to receive the latest delivery of equipment – equipment which we are confident will be directly employed to protect and defend Lebanon's borders, and by the very nature of that act, Lebanon's most valuable asset, its people."

Following are Ambassador Richard's full remarks at the ceremony:

"Good Morning, every one, and thank you for the opportunity, once again, to demonstrate our commitment to supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces.  Brigadier General Farah, Brigadier General Abi Nasif, it is my pleasure to be with you here today to participate in this delivery of important equipment, a critical symbol of our support to the Lebanese Army and the protection of Lebanon's borders.

In the past, delivery ceremonies have focused on more sophisticated and technologically advanced military hardware.  In August, in one of my first interactions with the LAF, we marked the delivery of 50 Armored HUMVEES with automatic grenade launchers, 40 howitzer artillery pieces, and advanced HELLFIRE Missiles along with many other types of munitions.  In December, we again gathered to celebrate the delivery of the LAF's latest armed Cessna aircraft.

The Lebanese Army has quickly utilized this increase in combat power to aggressively target terrorist threats, protect the nation's borders, and demonstrate its resolve to defend the Lebanese way of life, and we have seen how border communities' trust in the LAF is impressively high and is growing.

Today, I am happy to be with you to receive the latest delivery of equipment – equipment which we are confident will be directly employed to protect and defend Lebanon's borders, and by the very nature of that act, Lebanon's most valuable asset, its people.  The weapons which you see displayed here today represent a much larger shipment of 800 .50 Caliber Machine Guns, 171 M240B Machine Guns and 148 M249 Machine Guns, valued at over fourteen million dollars.

The equipment we see here today does not represent a new capability for the Lebanese Army.  Rather, it will strengthen your ongoing efforts to increase your border protection.  Recipients will include the Border Regiments that are now being stood up as part of the joint US-Lebanon-UK program to secure the whole of the Lebanese – Syrian border for the Lebanese state by early next year.

These weapons displayed before you, much like the Lebanese soldiers, are proven, reliable, trustworthy, and deadly to those who would impinge on Lebanon's sovereignty and freedom.

We recognize that the challenges facing Lebanon are serious.  Many of them emanate from outside your borders.  But the Lebanese are strong, as you have proven over and over through history.  Rest assured that the United States stands beside the Lebanese Government and the Lebanese Army as we work together for a more peaceful future for all of us.

Thank you again everyone for being with us today.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

SENATOR BENNETT WRAPS UP VISIT TO LEBANON

Sat 22 Apr 2017
NNA - Colorado's Democratic U.S. senator, Michael Bennett, concluded on Saturday his visit to Lebanon, by meeting with Prime Minster, Saad Hariri, and Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, with discussions touching on bilateral relations between the two countries as well as the Lebanese-U.S. security cooperation. 
The delegation visited also the Bekaa valley and met with Lebanese Army officials. 
After the meeting, Senator Bennett reiterated that the U.S. would continue to stand by the Lebanese people and State institutions in order to promote a secure, sovereign and prosperous future for the country.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Remarks at a UN Security Council Open Debate on the Middle East

Ambassador Nikki Haley
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
April 20, 2017

AS DELIVERED

Every month, this Security Council convenes a meeting on the Middle East. We have lots of meetings on specific countries and conflicts in this region. But this debate is our opportunity to talk about the Middle East as a whole. This is our opportunity to look at the threats that go beyond one country's borders – the threats that affect not just every country in the Middle East, but all too often, every single one of us.

Regrettably, these monthly meetings routinely turn into Israel-bashing sessions. That's the way this Security Council has operated for years. It's a formula that is absurdly biased against one country. It's a formula that is painfully narrow in its description of the conflicts in the region. And it's a formula that does nothing to help find solutions.

The truth is, these Security Council meetings don't do anyone in the region any favors, least of all the Israelis and the Palestinians. These meetings do nothing to bring the parties closer together. They actually work to push the two sides apart.

The United States firmly believes that peace is possible between Israel and the Palestinians, and we are actively working toward that goal. Peace will only come from direct negotiations, not from one-sided Security Council meetings and one-sided resolutions.

These biased discussions on the Middle East also impose a real cost. Threats are evolving, and do not fit neatly within borders. By limiting itself, the Council ignores the pressing threats that are right in front of us.

We should be asking these monthly Middle East sessions to talk about the factors that cause conflict across the region. I thank Nickolay for his remarks today and the fact that he went beyond the usual Israel-bashing and touched on the broader issues plaguing the region. I will do the same, and I encourage other countries to do the same as well. By breaking out of old, familiar, counterproductive patterns, we might actually achieve something valuable.

If we are speaking honestly about conflict in the Middle East, we need to start with the chief culprit: Iran and its partner militia, Hizballah. Iran and Hizballah conspire together to destabilize the Middle East, and their actions are expanding. For decades, they have committed terrorist acts across the region. Today, they prop up Bashar al-Assad's brutality, fighting alongside his forces, adding to the killing of thousands of civilians and the misery of millions of refugees. They train deadly militias in Iraq and arm Houthi militants in Yemen.

While this Council has paid too little attention to this growing menace, the United States will not. We are going to speak up about Iran and Hizballah, and we are going to act against their lawlessness.

In Lebanon, Hizballah, a terrorist organization, uses towns to shield its arsenals of tens of thousands of illegal rockets. In Syria, Hizballah controls territory on the ground. With Iran's instructions, its militias stand side by side with Syrian troops as they slaughter the Syrian people.

Sometimes, Hizballah is the one giving orders to Assad's fighters. Hizballah helped Assad starve and destroy Aleppo. According to press reports, when supporters of the Syrian regime die in battle, they sometimes come back with Hizballah flags on their coffins. As one activist said recently, "Hizballah designs it, and the Syrian regime wears it." They are reportedly even recruiting Syrian children to join pro-Hizballah youth groups, so they can indoctrinate a new generation, in a new country, with its toxic ideology.

Hizballah is a terrorist group spreading its influence across Middle East with the backing of a state sponsor. Iran is using Hizballah to advance its regional aspirations. They are working together to expand extremist ideologies in the Middle East. That is a threat that should be dominating our discussion at this Security Council.

The United States is not waiting to respond. We have imposed targeted sanctions on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard and its Ministry of Intelligence for their support of the Assad regime. We recently designated for sanctions members of Iranian-backed terrorist organizations in Bahrain.

Iran remains a designated state sponsor of terror, and we continue to enforce all sanctions related to Iran's support for terrorism and destabilizing activities in the region. The United States will work even harder with our partners and allies to disrupt Iran's support for militant and terrorist groups.

All UN Member States must live up to their obligations. Iran's ballistic missile tests defy Security Council resolutions and further undermine the stability in the region. We call on all states to fully implement Resolution 2231, which bans the transfer of weapons to and from Iran, as well as the arms embargoes against the Houthis in Resolution 2216 and for Lebanon in Resolution 1701.

The United States will work closely with our partners to document and address any actions that violate these resolutions. We must take a stand against Iran and Hizballah's illegal and dangerous behavior.

How one chooses to spend one's time is an indication of one's priorities. The same is true for the United Nations Security Council. The Israel-Palestinian issue is an important one, deserving of attention. But that is one issue that surely has no lack of attention around here. The incredibly destructive nature of Iranian and Hizballah activities throughout the Middle East demands much more of our attention. It should become this Council's priority in the region.

I thank you.

###


U.S. Ambassador Breaks Ground on the New U.S. Embassy in Beirut

By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 20 April, 2017 
In a demonstration of our enduring friendship and important bilateral partnership, today, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard broke ground on the new U.S. Embassy compound in Beirut, Lebanon.

In her remarks at the ceremony, Ambassador Richard said: "Breaking ground today on our New Embassy Compound is a strong message to the Lebanese people that we are with you for the long term.  We intend to continue the spirit of cooperation and partnership that has defined our journey together for 200 years."

The multi-building compound will be located in the suburb of Awkar on a 43-acre site.   The compound will provide a safe, secure, sustainable, and modern platform that supports U.S. Embassy staff in representing the U.S. Government to Lebanon and in conducting day-to-day diplomacy.

Ambassador Richard told the guests at the ceremony, "That we are building a billion dollar facility on this site, overlooking your vibrant capital and the breathtaking Mediterranean, fills me with great optimism for the future.  I hope you share that optimism – it is what fuels the next generation to continue the work that was done before them to build a secure, stable, and prosperous Lebanon."

The facilities of the new U.S. Embassy in Beirut represent the best in American culture, engineering, technology, sustainability, art, culture, and construction execution.  Professionals from the United States, Lebanon, and other countries will be working side-by-side to complete this new diplomatic facility. Morphosis Architects of Culver City, California, is the architect for the project. B.L. Harbert International of Birmingham, Alabama is the construction contractor.

For further information, please contact Christine Foushee at FousheeCT@state.gov or (703) 875-4131, or visit www.state.gov/obo.