Washington pursues Hezbollah Funders in Colombia

The United States has imposed sanctions on individuals and companies in Colombia and Lebanon accused of financing Hezbollah. similar to Amer Mohammad Akil Rida, who was involved in an attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina in 1994.

On Tuesday, the United States announced sanctions on individuals. and companies in Colombia and Lebanon accused of financing Hezbollah. particularly through a company specializing in coal trading. amid intensified efforts by Washington to cut off financial support to the Iran-backed group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury confirmed that one of the prominent individuals targeted by the sanctions is Amer Mohammad Akil Rida (born in 1960 in Lebanon. and holds Colombian citizenship). He was implicated in the attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina in 1994, which resulted in 85 casualties.

The Treasury Department included seven individuals .and companies on the sanctions list. aiming to restrict their business activities and cut them off from financial networks. allowing for the seizure of their assets under U.S. laws.

The Treasury noted that Amer Mohammad Akil Rida returned to residence in Lebanon. but he had been involved in Hezbollah‘s activities in South America for more than a decade and had coordinated various business activities for the benefit of the party. including the export of coal from Colombia to Lebanon during that period.

The Department stated, “As a collaborator with the party and a leader. Amer uses up to 80% of his company’s revenues for the benefit of Hezbollah.”

The sanctions list also included Samer Akil Rida. Amer’s brother, who was accused by the U.S. Treasury of involvement in drug trafficking and money laundering operations in several Latin American countries, including Venezuela and Belize. Additionally, Mahdi Akil Halbaoui, who manages “Zanga S.A.S,” a coal trading company.

In 2020, a report by the American “Atlantic Council” identified networks in South America suspected of being associated with the Lebanese party. The report stated that the Rida family, residing in Colombia. was linked to an active figure in the party. Salman Raouf Salman, whom the United States classified as a “terrorist” for his role in supervising the 1994 attack in Buenos Aires.

The U.S. Treasury noted that the Rida family used coal trading as a cover for activities related to cocaine trafficking.

The sanctions list also included Ismael Ajroch, a Lebanese born in the Jezzine district in southern Lebanon. and two companies. “BCI Technologies” in Colombia linked to Samer Akil Rida, and “Black Diamond” based in the Baabda district. east of Beirut.

Brian Nelson, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. stated. “Today’s step confirms the commitment of the U.S. government to pursue Hezbollah elements .and its funders wherever they are.”

Several Latin American countries. including Colombia, Honduras, Argentina, Guatemala. and others, have classified the Lebanese Hezbollah as a terrorist organization as part of efforts exerted by Washington and Tel Aviv.

A large Lebanese community exists in Latin America. and Hezbollah recruits some of its members to finance its destabilizing activities in the Middle East and worldwide.

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