Thursday, March 19, 2020

Shaheen Announces Release of Amer Fakhoury from Lebanon

MARCH 19, 2020
**Senator Shaheen has been working to free Dover-resident Amer Fakhoury who was held in Lebanon and whose health is in critical condition** 
**Shaheen spoke on the phone with Amer soon after his release**
(Washington, DC)—U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has been working closely with Amer Fakhoury's lawyer, administration officials and diplomats to free Amer who had been held in Lebanon since September. Following months of detention and a diagnosis of Stage IV Lymphoma, Amer has finally been released and is on his way to the United States. Shaheen spoke on the phone with Amer soon after his release.
"Anytime a U.S citizen is wrongfully detained by a foreign government, we must use every tool at our disposal to free them," said Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "I'm very glad that Amer is finally coming home and will be reunited with his family. No family should have to go through what the Fakhoury family has gone through. His health is in critical condition and now it is vitally important that he receives proper treatment to get on the road to recovery. I have long supported close ties between the United States and Lebanon, and hope this is a first step to repairing relations."
Shaheen continued,"Securing Amer's release has been a bipartisan team effort, and I want to thank Amer's lawyer Celine Attalah, Ambassador O'Brien and his National Security Council staff, particularly Virginia Boney and others that cannot be named, Special Envoy Carstens, Ambassador Richard, Ambassador Shea and her stellar team, Secretary Esper, General Milley, Senator Cruz and his staff, Senator, Risch, Senator Menendez, Secretary Pompeo and President Trump." 
A statement issued by the Fakhoury family: "It's hard to put into words how grateful and relieved we are to finally be returning to the United States with Amer. We have been through a nightmare that we would never wish on anyone. From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank everyone who believed in Amer's innocence and fought tirelessly to bring him home to the country he loves. First and foremost, we want to thank Senator Shaheen and her staff who have been relentless in their efforts to free Amer. Senator Shaheen pursued every means possible to secure Amer's freedom—this would not have happened without her. Amer considers Senator Shaheen his hero."
The statement continues, "We want to make special mention of Naz Durakoglu on Shaheen's staff. We also want to give special thanks to Senator Cruz and everyone in the administration who assisted this enormous effort, in particular, Ambassador O'Brien, Virginia Boney, Special Envoy Carstens, Ambassador Shea, Under Secretary Hale, Assistant Secretary Schenker, the U.S. embassy's consular affairs team, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Milley, Ambassador Richard, Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Esper and President Trump. Everyone involved exhibited incredible dedication to their fellow citizen. We also want to thank the journalists who reported accurately on Amer and avoided the slander that was being directed at him. Amer is in very poor health and urgently needs care, but all of you gave him a fighting chance and most importantly, hope and freedom. God Bless America."
Senators Shaheen and Cruz introduced the Zero Tolerance for Unlawful Detentions of U.S. Citizens in Lebanon Act (Zero Tolerance Act) would impose sanctions against Lebanese officials who are involved in the unlawful detainment, arrest or abuse of any United States citizen in Lebanon.
Amer is a well-known and well-liked small business owner from Dover, New Hampshire who was visiting Lebanon in September 2019 when his U.S. passport was confiscated. Soon after, he was taken into custody and illegally detained in Beirut. While in prison, it was discovered that he was suffering from stage 4 cancer. Earlier this year, the Lebanese military court charged Amer with unsubstantiated crimes that carry a punishment of death without producing any material evidence to back these allegations. A judge eventually dismissed the charges against him. Since September, Shaheen has been working with Amer's lawyer, the White House and the State Department to free him. Shaheen raised his case multiple times in Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Subcommittee hearings.

Release of Detained American Citizen Amer Fakhoury

03/19/2020 11:56 AM EDT
Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
American citizen Amer Fakhoury, who has been in detention in Lebanon since September, is returning to the United States where he will be reunited with his family and receive urgent medical treatment. His return comes as a relief to those who have followed the case with grave concern. We are relieved to be able to welcome him back home.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Remarks of U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy C. Shea

By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 13 March, 2020 | Good morning.  Sabah al-kheir.  I want to thank Prime Minister Diab—as well as President Aoun, Speaker Berri, and Foreign Minister Hitti—for their very warm welcome.  I am honored to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon and to work alongside the Lebanese people, who are famous not only for their hospitality, but also for their resilience, diversity, and entrepreneurship.

Today I discussed with Prime Minister Diab the strength and potential of the U.S. partnership with Lebanon, and our shared stake in a Lebanon that is stable, secure, and sovereign.  This is a partnership that is vitally important not only to both of our countries, but to all of the countries in the region.

The people of Lebanon have rightly called for reform, an end to corruption, and the imposition of effective policies necessary to extricate Lebanon from its an unprecedented economic crisis.  The United States continues to back the protestors' legitimate demands for economic opportunity, accountability, and transparency.  Only by meeting those demands can Lebanon initiate the difficult process of restoring international confidence.

The United States is proud to have been a committed partner to Lebanon since the 1800s.  We have deep ties in education, in business, in security, and in people-to-people and family relationships, including my own, that touch all walks of life.  We seek a bright future for the Lebanese people, who deserve a stable, secure, sovereign, and prosperous country.  We stand with the Lebanese people in encouraging their government to effect real change in its policies, and to chart a course that will earn the confidence of those it means to govern – and, in doing so, secure the support of the international community.

Thank you again for the warm welcome that you have extended me. Shukran.

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Friday, March 06, 2020

Ambassador Richard Bids Farewell to the Lebanese

Media Notice
For Immediate Release
By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 26 February, 2020
Good morning, everybody.
I'm here today to talk about my departure from Lebanon.  As my time in Lebanon comes to a close, I want to thank the people of Lebanon for the kindness, the hospitality, and the warmth that they have all shown me and the whole U.S. Embassy team for the three and a half years that I have been here.  It's been a privilege and an honor to represent the United States in a place where we have such a long and historic and important relationship and interests.  
We established a diplomatic presence in Lebanon in 1833, and ever since, Americans have been by Lebanon's side, willing and engaged as a partner for the future.  We were here to support the founding of the Lebanese American University in 1835 and the American University of Beirut in 1866, and we continue to support their role as beacons to Lebanon and to the entire region.  Freedom of thought and expression, creative and critical thinking, and civic responsibility and leadership are qualities that are needed in this country, today more than ever before.   
Lebanon is at a turning point. In October, citizens from all sects and all geographic regions went to the streets to demand better from their government.  And they are right. There is no reason a country this blessed with so many gifts, including incredible human resources, does not have in 2020 a modern waste management system, 24/7 electricity for everyone, a single armed force under the control of the state, and a growing economy.   
The United States has been with the Lebanese people consistently.  We are active in all eight governorates of Lebanon and in most of its 1,100 municipalities, engaging with Lebanese citizens to identify areas of shared concern and working to help them to find solutions.  
But we as outsiders cannot alone fix what is not working.  This is the time for all Lebanese citizens to address the issues of governance and economy head on.  Difficult decisions have to be made, and everyone will bear some of the burden. But I believe everyone recognizes that the system of the last few decades is no longer working.  So, this is a historic opportunity for the Lebanese people to turn the page. It is a chance to chart a new course that will see this country realize its full potential as a modern and flourishing member of the international community.  The success that so many Lebanese emigrants achieve in countries like the United States is testament to the fact that such success is possible here too.   
The people of Lebanon are the country's greatest strength, and we have seen them act in remarkable unity to express legitimate concerns about their future.  You hold the power to turn these dreams for your country into reality, and the United States stands with you in a pursuit of such a bright future.    
I am confident you will find incoming U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Shea to be an outstanding representative of the United States and a friend to Lebanon, leading our Embassy team and working closely with all of you to nurture and build our relationship.  And  I trust that you will welcome her with the same open arms which you extended to me upon my arrival several years ago.  
With that, thank you very, very much.  I bid farewell to all of you. And I look forward to a very, very bright future for Lebanon.  Thank you.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

United States Designates Hizballah Affiliated Companies and Officials as Global Terrorists

02/26/2020 05:51 PM EST
Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Today, the United States designated 15 Lebanon-based individuals and entities linked to the Martyrs Foundation, part of Hizballah's financial support network, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) pursuant to Executive Order 13224.  These designations demonstrate once again how Hizballah uses its expansive and shadowy network of companies to pursue its own malign interests and those of its primary benefactor, Iran, at the expense of the Lebanese people.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Atlas Holding and 10 of its subsidiaries for being owned or controlled by the Martyrs Foundation, an integral element of the terrorist group's global support network designated in 2007.  Treasury further designated Atlas Holding's senior executive Kassem Mohamad Ali Bazzi, two leaders or officials of the Martyrs Foundation, Jawad Nur-al-Din and Sheikh Yusuf Aasi, and an affiliated company.

Today's designation will continue the U.S. effort to disrupt Hizballah's financial facilitation networks and expose its manipulation of the Lebanese political and economic arenas to bolster its influence.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Treasury Designates Martyrs Foundation Companies and Officials as Global Terrorists

February 26, 2020

Washington – The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) three Lebanon-based officials and 12 Lebanon-based entities linked to the Martyrs Foundation, part of Hizballah's support network. Specifically, OFAC designated Atlas Holding for being owned or controlled by the Martyrs Foundation, as well as senior Atlas official Kassem Mohamad Ali Bazzi, and ten Atlas-affiliated companies. Jawad Nur-al-Din and Sheikh Yusuf Aasi were also designated, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, for being leaders or officials of the Lebanon-based Martyrs Foundation, which was designated for supporting terrorism in July 2007. Mirath S.A.L., which is owned or controlled by Jawad Nur-al-Din, was also designated today.

"Hizballah profits from the sale of goods vital to the Lebanese peoples' health and economy, such as pharmaceuticals and gasoline," said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. "The Trump Administration stands with the Lebanese people, and we are committed to exposing and holding accountable Hizballah's terror-funding business schemes."

Hizballah put the Lebanese banking sector at risk through its deep coordination with Jammal Trust Bank, which was designated as an SDGT in August 2019. Atlas Holding — a company controlled by the Martyrs Foundation and subordinate to Hizballah's Executive Council — along with several of its subsidiaries banked freely at Jammal Trust Bank despite their open affiliation with previously designated Hizballah entities. In fact, Jammal Trust Bank facilitated hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions through the Lebanese financial system on behalf of Atlas Holding and its subsidiaries, and aided Hizballah officials in evading scrutiny on these accounts from Lebanese banking authorities.

Hizballah was designated by the Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in October 1997 and as an SDGT pursuant to E.O. 13224 in October 2001. As noted in previous Treasury actions, the Lebanon office of the Martyrs Foundation acts as an Iranian parastatal organization and is an integral element of Hizballah's global terror support network. It provides services such as financial support to the families of killed or imprisoned Hizballah members, as well as to families of suicide bombers from HAMAS and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. 

ATLAS HOLDING

Atlas Holding is owned or controlled by the Martyrs Foundation.

Atlas Holding owns or controls at least ten companies in numerous sectors in Lebanon, including fuel, pharmaceuticals, tourism, and clothing. According to corporate registration information, the Martyrs Foundation and its senior official Sheikh Yusuf Aasi are listed as founders of Atlas Holdings. As of late 2017, Atlas was among several entities identified as being subordinate to Hizballah's Executive Council, which takes advantage of its entities' legitimate and civilian appearance to conceal money transfers for Hizballah's military use. Although the funding from these Executive Council companies went into Hizballah's coffers and military activities, Hizballah hoped that the seemingly legitimate business funds could protect Hizballah from sanctions.

KASSEM MOHAMAD ALI BAZZI

Kassem Mohamad Ali Bazzi is a leader or official of Atlas Holding.

Kassem Mohamad Ali Bazzi serves as the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Atlas Holding as of 2019, and is the company's largest shareholder. Additionally, according to corporate registration information, he serves as an official for several of Atlas Holdings' subsidiaries, including Amana, Amana Plus, Medic, Shahed Pharm, City Pharma, al Kawthar, and Global Touristic Services.

JAWAD NUR-AL-DIN

Jawad Nur-al-Din is a leader and official of the Martyrs Foundation.

Jawad Nur-al-Din serves as the Director General of the Lebanon-based Martyrs Foundation. In this capacity, he oversees payments to the families of Hizballah fighters who have been killed, and has coordinated these payments with senior Hizballah officials such as SDGT Hashim Safi al-Din. As a senior official of the Lebanon-based Martyrs Foundation, he works closely with senior Hizballah officials and publicly represents the Martyrs Foundation alongside senior Hizballah officials including Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Hashim Safi al-Din was designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 in May 2017. Hassan Nasrallah was designated pursuant to E.O. 12947 in January 1995, pursuant to E.O. 13582 in September 2012, and pursuant to E.O. 13224 in 2018.

SHEIKH YUSUF AASI

Sheikh Yusuf Aasi is a leader or official of the Martyrs Foundation.

In his role with the Martyrs Foundation, Sheikh Yusuf Aasi has publicly advocated for the foundation in light of U.S. sanctions against Hizballah and the rising number of Hizballah operatives killed in Syria. Additionally, Sheikh Yusuf Aasi is one of the founders of Atlas Holdings, which is being designated today for being owned or controlled by the Martyrs Foundation.

MEDICAL EQUIPMENT & DRUGS INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION (MEDIC)

Medic is owned or controlled by Atlas Holding. According to corporate registration information, founders of Medic include both Atlas and Bazzi. Atlas is the majority shareholder for the company, and Bazzi, who holds fewer shares, serves as the Director General, Chairman, and authorized signatory for the company.

SHAHED PHARM

Shahed Pharm is owned or controlled by Atlas Holding. According to corporate registration information, senior Martyrs Foundation official Jawad Nur-al-Din is listed as one of its founders, along with Atlas Holdings, and Kassem Mohamad Ali Bazzi is listed as a shareholder, director, and authorized signatory for the company.

AMANA FUEL CO.

Amana Fuel Co. is owned or controlled by Atlas Holding. According to corporate registration information, Atlas Holdings controls the majority of shares in the company, and Kassem Mohamad Ali Bazzi is listed as a founder, director, and authorized signatory for the company.

AMANA PLUS CO.

Amana Plus Co. is owned or controlled by Atlas Holding. According to corporate registration information, Atlas Holdings is a founder of, and the largest shareholder for, Amana Plus Co. Jawad Nur-al-Din and Kassem Mohamad Ali Bazzi are also listed as company founders, with Bazzi also serving as the Director General, Chairman, and authorized signatory of the company.

AL KAWTHAR

Al Kawthar is owned or controlled by Atlas Holding. Also of note, corporate registration information lists Atlas Holding and Martyrs Foundation CEO Jawad Nur-al-Din as founder of Al Kawthar, and Atlas is a majority shareholder in the company.

AMANA SANITARY AND PAINTS COMPANY L.T.D.

Amana Sanitary and Paints Company L.T.D. is owned or controlled by Atlas Holding. According to corporate registration information, Atlas and Jawad Nur-al-Din are both founders of the company, with the majority of the company's stock being allocated to Atlas.

CITY PHARMA S.A.R.L.

City Pharma S.A.R.L. is owned or controlled by Atlas Holding. According to corporate registration information, Atlas is a founder of the company along with Jawad Nur-al-Din, and Kassem Mohamad Ali Bazzi was the authorized signatory for the company.

GLOBAL TOURISTIC SERVICES S.A.L.

Global Touristic Services S.A.L. is owned or controlled by Atlas Holding. According to corporate registration information, the company was founded by Atlas, Kassem Mohamad Ali Bazzi, and Jawad Nur-al-Din. Additionally, Atlas is the majority shareholder in the company, Kassem Mohamad Ali Bazzi is the authorized signatory, and Jawad Nur-al-Din and Kassem Mohamad Ali Bazzi are members of the board of directors.

MIRATH S.A.L.

Mirath is owned or controlled by Jawad Nur-al-Din. According to corporate registration information, Jawad Nur-al-Din is the chairman of the board, majority shareholder, as well as a founder of, and authorized signatory for, Mirath S.A.L.

SANOVERA PHARM COMPANY SARL

Sanovera Pharm Company SARL is owned or controlled by Atlas Holding.

CAPITAL S.A.L.

Capital S.A.L. is owned or controlled by Atlas Holding.

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

The Treasury Department continues to prioritize disrupting the full range of Hizballah's illicit financial activity, including its financial support network.

As a result of today's action, all property and interests in property of these targets that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC's regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons. In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals and entities designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action.  

Furthermore, the individuals and entities designated today are subject to secondary sanctions pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended. Pursuant to this authority, OFAC can prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution.

Read identifying information related to today's action here. 

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Friday, February 14, 2020

Anniversary of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s Assassination

PRESS STATEMENT
MICHAEL R. POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE
FEBRUARY 14, 2020
Today marks the 15th anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri, an act of mass murder that resulted in the deaths of 21 others and injuries of 266 victims in Beirut.  Multiple Hizballah-linked individuals were indicted for their roles in this terrorist attack and must finally be brought to justice.  Ending impunity is imperative to ensuring Lebanon's security, stability, and sovereignty.  We support the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) to hold accountable those responsible for the attack.   Hizballah has demonstrated through its terrorist and illicit activities that it is more concerned with its own interests and those of its patron, Iran, than what is best for the Lebanese people.  The United States continues to stand proudly with the Lebanese people in their peaceful calls for reform, transparency, and accountability.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Government Formation in Lebanon

01/22/2020 06:45 PM EST

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

The test of Lebanon's new government will be its actions and its responsiveness to the demands of the Lebanese people to implement reforms and to fight corruption.  Only a government that is capable of and committed to undertaking real and tangible reforms will restore investor confidence and unlock international assistance for Lebanon.

The unified, non-sectarian, and largely peaceful protests over the last three months reflect the Lebanese people's aspirations for their political leaders to put aside partisan interests and to act in the national interest.   We urge the government, army, and security services to guarantee the safety of citizens as they engage in peaceful demonstrations.  Violence and provocative actions have no place in civil discourse.

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Kevin Cirilli of Bloomberg

INTERVIEW
MICHAEL R. POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE
PEGASUS HOTEL
KINGSTON, JAMAICA
JANUARY 22, 2020

Excerpt

QUESTION: I just have a couple of final questions. The situation in Lebanon – they've had their cabinet, and they've got Hizballah connections. Is the U.S. going to work with this new cabinet?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We'll have to take a look at it. I don't know the answer to that yet. I saw what happened over the last 24 hours. We've been very clear about the requirements for the United States to engage. Lebanon has a terrible financial crisis that lays in front of it in just the weeks ahead. We're prepared to engage, provide support, but only to a government that's committed to reform. That's important for America, but if you look at the protests that are taking place in Beirut and cities outside of Beirut, you can see, just like in Baghdad – go look at the protests in Baghdad – these aren't anti-American protests; these are protests demanding sovereignty and freedom. The protests taking place today in Lebanon are saying to Hizballah, "No mas." No more. We want a non-corrupt government that reflects the will of the people of Lebanon. If this government in responsive to that and there's a new set of leaders that's prepared to make those commitments and deliver on that, that's the kind of government that we'll support around the world and the kind of government we would support in Lebanon.