July 24, 2007 / 4:12 PM / 11 years ago

US Treasury bans dealings with Hezbollah supporters

WASHINGTON, July 24 (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department said on Tuesday it has moved to block financing to Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah by banning U.S. transactions with a foundation in Iran and a finance company in Lebanon.

The Treasury said in a statement it was designating the Tehran-based Martyrs Foundation and the Al-Qard al-Hassan finance firm in Beirut as providing financial support to terrorist organizations.

The move invokes an executive order to freeze any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibit any Americans from conducting transactions with them. Two individuals associated with Hezbollah support activities also were blacklisted.

The designation includes a Dearborn, Michigan-based fundraising office set up by the Martyrs Foundation under the name Goodwill Charitable Organization. The Treasury said Goodwill is a "front organization that reports directly to the leadership of Martyrs Foundation in Lebanon."

The Treasury said the foundation channels financial support from Iran to several militant groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

This included providing financial support to the families of killed or imprisoned Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad members, including suicide bombers in the Palestinian territories, the Treasury said.

"We will continue to target those who form the financial backbone of Hezbollah, Hamas, PIJ and other terrorist groups that are attempting to destabilize Lebanon and target innocent civilians," said Stuart Levey, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

The Treasury said Hezbollah has used the Al-Qard al-Hassan firm to manage financial activities, adding that accounts of people and entities previously blacklisted by the Treasury were shifted to the firm and its employees.

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