National Security

State Dept. Adds Hezbollah Commander to U.S. Terrorist List

Hezbollah fighters hold flags as they attend a memorial / AP

The United States and Saudi Arabia formally designated a senior leader of the Iranian-backed extremist group Hezbollah as a terrorist on Friday, the State Department announced.

Hashem Safieddine is a key member of Hezbollah's executive council, which is responsible for the terror group's political, organizational, social, and educational activities, the State Department said in a statement.

The agency's counterterrorism bureau wrote on Twitter that this marked the first-ever joint terrorist designation. Safieddine will be subject to U.S. sanctions and denied access to the American and Saudi financial systems.

The announcement comes as President Donald Trump travels to Saudi Arabia during his first foreign trip Friday.

"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 State Department said. "The Safieddine designation is also consistent with the U.S. government’s ongoing effort to expose and apply pressure against the actions of Hezbollah, which is supported by the foremost State Sponsor of Terrorism, Iran."

Though the State Department did not cite any recent terrorist attack connected to Safieddine, it noted the 1983 suicide truck bombings carried out by Hezbollah at the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 17 American civilians and 241 U.S. troops.

The State Department on Friday also added the leader of the Islamic State affiliate in the Sinai to its foreign terrorist list.

Abu Usama al-Masri began commanding the group in August 2016 after its former leader, Abu Du’a al-Ansari, was killed by a U.S. airstrike.

Al-Masri will also be subject to U.S. sanctions and denied access to the American financial system.