The Trump administration imposed its first terrorism sanctions jointly with Saudi Arabia today as President Donald Trump travels to the kingdom on his first overseas trip.
Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arab countries declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization in 2016, and said they would punish anyone who belongs to it, sympathizes with it, supports it financially or harbors any of its members.
Saudi Arabia said on Friday it had blacklisted Hashem Safieddine, a prominent leader of the Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim group Hezbollah that is a close ally of Riyadh's arch-regional adversary Iran.
The sanctions, put forth by the assets control office and the State Department, prohibit USA companies and Americans from doing business with the two men, blocks their assets in the United States and places them as high-profile targets for law enforcement worldwide.
Any assets of that NAME under Saudi jurisdiction are frozen, and Saudi citizens and residents in the Kingdom are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with that NAME designated today, SPA said. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia designated Safieddine under its Law of Terrorism Crimes and Financing and Royal Decree A/44.
The US designation order did not link him to any recent Hezbollah attacks but noted the group's historical involvement in the 1983 bombing of a US Marines barracks in Beirut, a US embassy bombing in 1984 and a passenger jet hijacking in 1985.
Abu Usama al-Masri began commanding the group in August 2016 after its former leader, Abu Du'a al-Ansari, was killed by a US airstrike. He spent time in an Egyptian prison before escaping during unrest in Egypt in 2011. The State Department amended the group's FTO designation to include ISIS' affiliate in the Sinai on September 30, 2015.
The State Department's counterterrorism bureau said in a tweet that the sanctions marked the "first-ever" State Department and foreign national "joint terrorist designation", underlining the close cooperation between US and Saudi officials.
The statement said the move was consistent with the US government's ongoing effort to expose the actions of Hezbollah, which the USA characterizes as being supported by the "foremost state sponsor of terrorism, Iran".
Hezbollah, which has members in Lebanon's parliament and Cabinet, is considered a terrorist organization by the USA government.