Iran TerrorismUS acts against groups aiding Hezbollah

US acts against groups aiding Hezbollah

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AP: The Bush administration took action Tuesday against an Iran-based foundation, including its U.S. branch, for allegedly providing support to Hezbollah, a terrorist group the United States has blamed for bloodshed in the Middle East. Associated Press

By JEANNINE AVERSA

AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Bush administration took action Tuesday against an Iran-based foundation, including its U.S. branch, for allegedly providing support to Hezbollah, a terrorist group the United States has blamed for bloodshed in the Middle East.

The Treasury Department’s action covers the Martyrs Foundation and Goodwill Charitable Organization of Dearborn, Mich., which the government identified as a fundraising office for the foundation.

“We will not allow organizations that support terrorism to raise money in the United States,” said Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

The government also moved against al-Qard al-Hassan, a Beirut firm that the U.S. government believes was used by Hezbollah “as a cover to manage its financial activity.”

Two Lebanese people – Qasem Aliq and Ahmad al-Shami – also were covered by Tuesday’s order.

The U.S. identified Aliq as a Hezbollah official who was once the director of the Martyrs Foundation’s branch in Lebanon. The U.S. says he is currently a director of Jihad al Bina, a Lebanon-based construction company allegedly formed and operated by Hezbollah.

Al-Shami had worked for the foundation in Lebanon and has been in “frequent contact” with the Goodwill Charitable Organization, the department said. Goodwill Charitable Organization sent him money to distribute to the Martyrs Foundation, the department said.

The action means that any bank accounts or other financial assets found in the United States that belong to those identified on Tuesday must be frozen. Americans also are forbidden by doing business with them.

There was no current telephone listing for Goodwill Charitable Organization.

The department called Goodwill Charitable Organization, or GCO, “a Hezbollah front organization that reports directly to the leadership of the Martyrs Foundation in Lebanon. “Hezbollah recruited GCO leaders and had maintained close contact with GCO representatives in the United States,” the department alleged.

Goodwill Charitable Organization has allegedly provided “financial support to Hezbollah directly and through the Martyrs Foundation in Lebanon,” Treasury stated. “Hezbollah’s leaders in Lebanon have instructed Hezbollah members in the United States to send their contributions to GCO and to contact the GCO for the purpose of contributing to the Martyrs Foundation,” the department said.

“Since its founding,” Treasury said, GCO has sent a significant amount of money to the Martyrs Foundation in Lebanon.”

The department alleged that the Martyrs Foundation channels financial support from Iran to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or PIJ, as well as other terrorist groups.

The U.S. says that senior foundation officials were directly involved in Hezbollah operations against Israel last summer.

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