In October 2018, the US administration adopted a series of legislative and law enforcement measures against Hezbollah and all those supporting it. These measures have met with broad bipartisan support in Congress and have been approved by President Trump. These measures provide law enforcement agencies with an improved “toolkit” in the struggle against Hezbollah and the international crime in which it is involved. At the political level, these measures reflect the Trump administration’s deep commitment to give high priority to the struggle against Hezbollah as part of the overall campaign against Iran.
- Following is a short summary of the American steps:
- Two law bills expanding the sanctions against Hezbollah (October 11, 2018): One expands the economic and financial sanctions imposed in previous legislation (2015) on Hezbollah and anyone who supports the organization and its criminal activity around the world (individuals, companies, and government entities). The second bill imposes sanctions on Hezbollah and Hamas which make use of civilians as human shields and on individuals, institutions and countries that help them do so.
- The inclusion of Hezbollah in the list of the five leading transnational criminal groups and the establishment of a task force for the struggle against them (October 15, 2018): US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the inclusion of Hezbollah in the list of the five leading transnational criminal groups. Aside from Hezbollah, four other international drug and criminal cartels based in Latin America were included in the list. In order to manage the struggle against these leading groups, a special task force headed by the Deputy Attorney General was set up, with the participation of prosecutors and experts with experience in the war against drugs, terrorism, organized crime and money laundering.
- These measures were designed to streamline the US campaign against Hezbollah as part of the overall campaign against Iran and the terrorist organizations that it handles. The designation of Hezbollah as a leading transnational criminal group, together with four major cartels trafficking in drugs and engaged in other criminal activities, indicates that the US administration is determined to prioritize the struggle against Hezbollah. The new legislation and the task force that was established provide US law enforcement agencies with additional tools, taken from the world of crime, in order to address the extensive criminal and financial activity carried out by Hezbollah abroad, especially in Latin America and West Africa.