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Argentina designates Hezbollah as ‘terrorist group’

July 19, 2019 at 2:05 pm

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference at the US Department of State in Washington, DC on 22 April 2019 [ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty]

Argentinian authorities designated Hezbollah, which it blames for two attacks on its soil, a terrorist organisation yesterday and ordered the freezing of the Lebanese Islamist group’s assets in the country, Reuters reported.

The announcement coincided with a visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as Argentina marks the 25th anniversary of the deadly bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in which 85 people died. Argentina blames Iran and Hezbollah for the attack. Both deny any responsibility.

Argentina also blames Hezbollah for an attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 that killed 29 people.

The Argentine government’s Financial Information Unit, ordered the freezing of assets of members of Hezbollah and the organisation a day after the country created a new list for people and entities linked to terrorism. The designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group was the first by any Latin American country.

READ: US, Argentina to tackle Hezbollah funding

“At present, Hezbollah continues to represent a current threat to security and the integrity of the economic and financial order of the Argentine Republic,” the unit said in a statement.

There was no immediate comment from Hezbollah on the move.

Last year, Argentina froze the assets of 14 members of the Barakat Clan, an extended family that officials say has close ties to Hezbollah.

US and Argentine officials say Hezbollah operates in what is known as the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, where an illicit economy funds its operations elsewhere.

The move comes just weeks after the US Treasury added three top Hezbollah figures to its list of sanctioned individuals, including two members of the Lebanese Parliament and a security official responsible for coordinating between Hezbollah and Lebanon’s security agencies.