House panel approves expanded Hezbollah sanctions


WASHINGTON (JTA) – The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved legislation designed to keep international financial institutions from conducting business with Hezbollah.

The Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2014, introduced by U.S. Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), includes a provision to sanction foreign financial institutions that knowingly facilitate the activities of the Lebanese militia and party.

Hezbollah already is subject to sanctions as a designated terrorist group. The bill extends such sanctions to third parties — an expansion that has proven effective in isolating Iran, a key sponsor of Hezbollah.

“To deter dealings with Hezbollah, the bill targets those financial institutions that knowingly do business with what has been called the ‘A team’ of terrorists,” said Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the committee’s chairman, who joined with its ranking Democrat, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), to advance the legislation on Thursday.

“The threat posed by Hezbollah’s global operations has exploded,” Royce said. “Underpinning that development is a financing and logistical network. In 2011, we saw the tip of the iceberg when a massive Hezbollah drug and money laundering operation was uncovered.”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee praised the committee’s efforts, noting in a news release that Hezbollah “poses a direct threat to American and Israeli security, dominates the Lebanese government, [and] fights for the Syrian Assad regime.”

A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate.

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