Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Remarks by Ambassador Hale at the 2015 American Independence Day Celebration

June 15, 2015 | As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you all for joining us tonight to celebrate America's 239th year of independence, and the long-standing ties between our two countries.  Thank you, Your Excellencies, Member of Parliament Bazzi, Deputy Prime Minister Mokbel, for representing Presidents Berri and Salam tonight.
Thanks, also, to our generous sponsors, whose logos are displayed on the screens above.  Their presence and support are crucial to the success of this celebration.  Finally, a special thanks to the children's choir, the musicians, and our Marine Security and Local Guard Force for the presentation of arms and display of colors. 
We celebrate American independence early this year out of respect for the holy month of Ramadan, which will coincide with the Fourth of July.  We wish the Muslim community a blessed holy month.
Tonight is an occasion to reflect on the strength of the Lebanese-American relationship.  It is a relationship that stretches back before the independence of my country, when merchant ships from Boston, Massachusetts visited Beirut port to do business.  It stretches back to the early nineteenth century, when American educators and missionaries came to Beirut and Mount Lebanon, a presence that led to the founding of several great American-Lebanese universities and high schools that flourish today.  It deepened with the arrival of Lebanese immigrants in my country, searching for new opportunities as America and its economy grew.  Their descendants, proud Americans of Lebanese origin, have contributed so much to the development of America, and I salute those here tonight.  Many helped fund this event. 
America and Lebanon have deep bonds of friendship, business, culture, and education.  These bonds are enduring because they spring from the commitments and effort of private Americans and private Lebanese.  But my government is proud to support these relationships through robust assistance and cultural and educational exchange programs that benefit Lebanese from all parts of Lebanon and all walks of life. 
$70 million this past year to deliver clean water and support high quality education, almost $83 million since last August to the Lebanese army to protect its borders and safeguard its citizens, $800 million since 2012 to help Lebanon and local communities cope with the burden of Syrian refugees. These are just a few examples of how my government supports Lebanon at a time of stress. 
Extremist groups from across the border seek to sow seeds of hate, divide the Lebanese people, and destroy our shared values of mutual respect and understanding.  It will take time and perseverance, but those extremists will fail, so long as the Lebanese people remain committed to their state institutions, true to their values which are so much stronger than the false ideology of extremism, and stand by their army and security services. 
Those institutions, after all, alone have the legitimate role of defending the state and its borders, and are accountable to all the Lebanese people.  For our part, America and the international community are absolutely committed to helping Lebanon achieve these goals, by contributing to the army's means to defend Lebanon.  
Thank you for joining us tonight to celebrate this partnership and America's independence.  As I prepare to leave later this year I am once again grateful to have had the opportunity to serve my country for a third time in Lebanon and rejoin so many Lebanese friends.  Lebanon has always been a big part of my life, and it always will be.  I leave confident that our relationship is on a strong foundation to the benefit of both our countries.  Thank you.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Treasury Sanctions Hizballah Front Companies and Facilitators in Lebanon And Iraq


Action Targets Lebanese Businessmen and their Companies for Supporting Hizballah's Financial Operations and Terrorist Activities
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury targeted a key Hizballah support network today by designating Hizballah member Adham Tabaja, his company Al-Inmaa Group for Tourism Works, and its subsidiaries, as well as Lebanese businessman Kassem Hejeij and Hizballah Islamic Jihad member Husayn Ali Faour, who provide support and services to Hizballah.  Also designated today is Car Care Center, a front company based in Lebanon that supports Hizballah's transportation needs.  Treasury's actions against these three individuals and four companies were taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. 
Today's actions underscore the direct ties between Hizballah's commercial and terrorist activities, as well as the group's continued exploitation of the legitimate commercial sector for financial, organizational, and material support – from vehicles to investment and construction services – which enable the group to carry out acts of terrorism.  Today's actions continue Treasury's ongoing efforts to target Hizballah and its supporters under E.O. 13224, which have recently included actions against a key Hizballah support network based in Africa and a global Hizballah-linked procurement network, among numerous other designations.
"Hizballah is responsible for perpetrating terrorism and fomenting instability worldwide.  Hizballah is using so-called legitimate businesses to fund, equip, and organize these subversive activities," said Adam J. Szubin, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.  "The United States will pursue any individual or company that supports Hizballah's activities."
As a result of this action, all assets of those designated today that are based in the United States or in the control of U.S. persons are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. 
Adham Tabaja, his company Al-Inmaa Group for Tourism Works, and its subsidiaries
Tabaja is a Hizballah member and majority owner of the Lebanon-based real estate development and construction firm Al-Inmaa Group for Tourism Works.  The company's subsidiaries include Al-Inmaa Engineering and Contracting, which operates in Lebanon and Iraq, as well as Lebanon-based Al-Inmaa for Entertainment and Leisure Projects.
Tabaja maintains direct ties to senior Hizballah organizational elements, including the terrorist group's operational component, the Islamic Jihad, and holds properties in Lebanon on behalf of the group.  Tabaja's company Al-Inmaa Engineering and Contracting has been one of the largest and most successful real estate businesses in Lebanon since the late 1990s and has been used by Hizballah as an investment mechanism.  In 2006, Tabaja used his ties to Hizballah leadership to create a construction monopoly for Al-Inmaa Engineering and Contracting in the Hizballah-controlled Dahieh section of Beirut and Southern Lebanon.
More recently, Tabaja has used the Iraqi branches of Al-Inmaa Engineering and Contracting to obtain oil and construction development projects in Iraq that provide both financial support and organizational infrastructure to Hizballah.  Tabaja and his companies have also sought to secure lucrative business contracts in the Green Zone areas of Baghdad, Iraq.  Tabaja has worked with Hizballah officials, including E.O. 13224-designated Hizballah political official Shaykh Muhammad Kawtharani, for these projects.
Kassem Hejeij
Hejeij is a Lebanese businessman that maintains direct ties to Hizballah organizational elements.  In addition to his support to Adham Tabaja and his affiliated companies in Iraq, Hejeij has helped open bank accounts for Hizballah in Lebanon and provided credit to Hizballah procurement companies.  Hejeij has also invested in infrastructure that Hizballah uses in both Lebanon and Iraq.
Husayn Ali Faour and Car Care Center
Faour is a member of Hizballah's Islamic Jihad, the unit responsible for carrying out the group's overseas terrorist activities.  Faour has also managed the Lebanon-based Car Care Center, a front company used to supply Hizballah's vehicle needs.  More recently, Faour has worked with Tabaja to secure and manage construction, oil, and other projects in Iraq for Al-Inmaa Engineering and Contracting.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

America Delivers TOW-II Missiles to the Lebanese Army

June 10, 2015
Today American Ambassador David Hale attended a Live Fire demonstration at the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) base in Taybeh, Baalbek to mark the delivery of over 200 TOW-II Missiles and dozens of launchers to the LAF.  The assistance, delivered in late May, is valued at over $10 million and jointly funded by the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Since August 2014, America has provided the LAF with $82.5 million of weapons and ammunition.
Ambassador Hale was accompanied by Brigadier General Maroun Hitti, Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning.  Below are Ambassador Hale's remarks from the event.
First of all, I want to thank General Kahwaji, the commander of the Lebanese Army represented today by General Maroun Hitti, for the opportunity to come out here to the Bekaa Valley and witness first hand just how effective cooperation between the United Sates and Lebanon can be in defeating the terrorist threat that you face across the border.  This is a continuous relationship.  Today we are celebrating just the latest shipment of U.S. equipment, the arrival of over 200 missiles and dozens of launchers for the Lebanese Army.  This equipment has a value of over ten million dollars and is jointly financed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and by the government of the United States.  With this demonstration today, we saw just how effective the Lebanese Army is, and the other security services as well.  We also saw the talent of the Army's soldiers who I believe, based on my own firsthand experience of witnessing them, absolutely have the commitment, the will, the determination, and the capacity to defend Lebanon and defend the Lebanese people.  The United States has absolute confidence in that.  Just as the Lebanese Army is continuing to defend Lebanon, the United States will continue to provide the Lebanese Army with all that it has asked for from the United States using both U.S. financing and generous donations from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  We do that because we are absolutely committed to making sure that the Army has the capacity to be the sole defender of Lebanese territory and its borders, and is answerable to the state and to the Lebanese people through the state.  This is a long term commitment, and we will stand by Lebanon's side in this regard until these terrorists are defeated.  I am absolutely convinced that the Lebanese Army is committed to defending Lebanon's borders, and with the means that we are providing them they have the capacity to do so.  Thank you very much.