Saudi Arabia and US designate a Hezbollah leader as a terrorist

This marked the "first-ever" State Department and foreign nation "joint terrorist designation"
Saudi Arabia and US designate a Hezbollah leader as a terrorist
Members of Lebanons powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah. (Getty Images)
By AFP
Sat 20 May 2017 11:27 AM

As US President Donald Trump lands in Saudi Arabia, Washington and Riyadh issued their first "joint terrorist designation" -- blacklisting a Hezbollah leader.

Hashem Safieddine is head of the executive council of Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Lebanese armed movement that Washington has branded a "foreign terrorist organisation".

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia joined the United States in designating Hashem Safieddine," the State Department said in a statement.

"As a result, any of his assets held in Saudi Arabia are frozen, and transfers through the Kingdom's financial sector, are prohibited."

Separately, the department's Bureau of Counterterrorism tweeted that this marked the "first-ever" State Department and foreign nation "joint terrorist designation", underlining the close cooperation between US and Saudi officials.

"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 official Saudi news agency SPA confirmed Safieddine's listing, and alleged he had given his organisation advice on carrying out terrorist acts and on supplying support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Trump has chosen the kingdom as the venue of his first foreign presidential visit, and this weekend he will meet King Salman and address an audience of up to 50 leaders from across the Muslim world on the threat of extremism.

Safieddine, a Lebanese citizen who is in his fifties, is the head of Hezbollah's executive council, which runs the group's political affairs and social and economic programmes in Lebanon's Shiite community.

He is a cousin of Hezbollah's overall leader Hassan Nasrallah, and is spoken of as a potential candidate to succeed him and take charge of perhaps the most powerful non-state movement in an unstable region.

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.

In the same statement, the State Department also added Muhammad al-Isawi -- whom it said had taken over the leadership of the Islamic State group franchise in Egypt's Sinai peninsula in August 2016 -- to the sanctions list.

As "specially designated global terrorists," Safieddine and al-Isawi will see any assets they hold in areas under US jurisdiction frozen, and US citizens will be forbidden from any dealings with them.

Separately but simultaneously, the US Treasury added two Yemeni tribal leaders, Hashim Muhsin Aydarus al-Hamid and Khalid Ali Mabkhut al-Aradah, to its own sanctions list, branding them leaders of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.