The US State Department offered a reward yesterday of $10 million for information leading to the disruption of the finances of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.
The fund is for those who can identify Hezbollah’s donors, financial institutions, real estate and businesses.
The information requested was focused on three of Hezbollah’s supposed financiers; Mohammed Bazzi, Adham Tabaja and Ali Charara.
The State Department say these men are part of Hezbollah’s global financial network and that they are involved in infrastructure and construction businesses across four continents.
“I’m confident that the [reward] that we are offering today, will provide incentives for people to come forward with information that will help us take down Hezbollah’s financial networks,” said Assistant Secretary for State for Diplomatic Security Michael T. Evanoff in a press briefing at the State Department.
This is the first time the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program has offered cash to target a financial network. Usually, they provide monetary rewards for information on wanted terrorists.
Since 1984 they have made a number of payments, dishing out as much as $150 million to those who’ve provided valuable information.
The statement shows that the US estimates that “Hezbollah earns almost one billion dollars annually”, listing “direct financial support from Iran”, investments, corruption and money laundering as its sources.
It says their funding contributes to its “deployment of militia members to Syria in support of the Assad dictatorship; alleged operations to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence in the American homeland; and enhanced military capabilities to the point the Hezbollah claims to possess precision-guided missiles.”
According to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Hezbollah is the most heavily armed non-state actor in the world with an estimated arsenal of 130,000 rockets as of July 2018.
The State Department has recently increased its financial support to the Lebanese army in a hope of stemming Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon and the region as a whole.
Earlier this month it gifted the Lebanese government an aid package of “night vision devices, radios and other equipment,” with a total cost of $14.3 million.
The US has given the Lebanese government over $2.3 billion in military aid since 2005.