US coordinates with Qatar on new Hezbollah-related sanctions

The sanctioned individuals allegedly sent tens of millions of dollars to Hezbollah via formal and informal means from Gulf states.

The US government, in coordination with Qatar, sanctioned several Gulf-based individuals Wednesday for allegedly working with Hezbollah.

Ali Reda Hassan al-Banai, Ali Reda al-Qassabi Lari and Abd al-Muayyid al-Banai were declared Specially Designated Global Terrorists for allegedly supporting the Lebanese paramilitary organization, the US Department of the Treasury said in a press release.

Ali al-Banai and Lari are Hezbollah supporters who allegedly transferred tens of millions of dollars to Hezbollah using the financial system and cash couriers. Ali al-Banai used Kuwait-based donors. The latest known transfer conducted by the Banai brothers was in late 2020. Ali al-Banai and Lari also met Hezbollah officials during trips to Lebanon and Iran. Lari began bringing cash to Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2000. In 2018, he worked with Ali al-Banai to move money from Qatar to Hezbollah-affiliated organizations, according to the department.

Hezbollah formed in 1985 in response to the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon. Its fighters are predominantly Shiite Muslims, and the organization is heavily supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Hezbollah sometimes clashes with US ally Israel and also fights alongside the Syrian government in the civil war. The US government designates Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

The US government also designated four individuals — Abd al-Rahman Abd al-Nabi Shams, Yahya Muhammad al-Abd-al-Muhsin, Majdi Fa’iz al-Ustadz and Sulaiman al-Banai — for allegedly providing support to Ali al-Banai. Shams is based in Bahrain, Abd-al-Muhsin in Saudi Arabia, Ustadz in Turkey and Sulaiman al-Banai in Qatar.

The release did not specify the government of Qatar’s role in the designations but said the actions were “coordinated” with Doha. Ali al-Banai allegedly transferred Qatari currency to Abd-al-Muhsin and has commercial activities in the country. The department also announced the Qatar-based Al Dar Properties was designated. The government of Bahrain likewise froze bank accounts connected to Shams.

The sanctions designations mean that any US assets of the individuals and entities can be frozen. It also opens up associates of those sanctioned to criminal prosecution by the United States.

Qatari entities have been implicated in relation to terrorist financing in the past. In 2020, families of Americans killed in Israel sued Qatari financial institutions for allegedly financing the Palestinian armed groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Qatar is also a major US ally.

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