The Trump administration on Tuesday slapped sanctions on two former Lebanese government officials for conspiring with Hezbollah, the Iranian-funded terrorist group running the country.
Former Lebanese government ministers Yusuf Finyanus and Ali Hassan Khalil "provided material support to Hizballah and engaged in corruption," according to the Treasury Department.
Recent Stories in National Security
The sanctions are part of a larger bid by the Trump administration to crack down on Hezbollah following an explosion last month in Beirut that rocked the country and forced its government to resign. While the United States and other nations have pledged humanitarian aid to help the Lebanese people rebuild, many have raised concerns that critical aid dollars will make their way to Hezbollah and its affiliates still inside the government.
"Corruption has run rampant in Lebanon, and Hezbollah has exploited the political system to spread its malign influence," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. "The United States stands with the people of Lebanon in their calls for reform and will continue to use its authorities to target those who oppress and exploit them."
"Hezbollah depends on Lebanon’s corrupt political system for survival," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on the new sanctions. "Anyone helping to advance Hezbollah’s political or economic interests is further eroding what remains of effective governance and facilitating financing for terrorism."
Lebanon’s government has been serving Hezbollah’s interests for years, and the terror group continues to stockpile munitions on the country’s border with Israel.
Both Finyanus and Khalil used their positions in the Lebanese government to siphon funds to Hezbollah front companies, which are heavily sanctioned across the globe and in need of cash. Both individuals also accepted cash from Hezbollah to help it secure government contracts and other lucrative business deals.
The Trump administration has sanctioned more than 90 Hezbollah-tied individuals since 2017.