By Jamie Crawford
The United States on Wednesday designated a Colombian national as a terrorist for his alleged role directing fund-raising activities in the Americas on behalf of Hezbollah, a U.S. designated terrorist organization.
In addition, the Treasury Department also designated four individuals and three entities for their purported role in laundering money for Ayman Joumaa, an alleged drug trafficker and money-launderer currently under indictment by a U.S. federal court.
"The Joumaa network is a sophisticated multi-national money-laundering ring, which launders the proceeds of drug trafficking for the benefit of criminals and the terrorist group Hizballah," David S. Cohen, under secretary for terrorism and financial Intelligence, said in a written statement. "We and our partners will continue to aggressively map, expose and disable this network, as we are doing with today's sanctions."
Ali Mohamad Saleh, a Lebanese Colombian national, was designated as a "specially designated global terrorist" for his role directing Hezbollah's fund-raising activities in the Americas, Treasury said in a press release. Previously designated under separate sanctions for his role as a money-launderer for other organizations, Saleh solicited donations for Hezbollah from Colombian business owners and residents, and coordinated the transfer of those funds via Venezuela to Hezbollah's base in Lebanon. He also maintained communication with suspected Hezbollah operatives in Venezuela, Germany, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia the Treasury Department said.
Abbas Hussein Harb and Ibrahim Chibli were designated pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their roles in the movement of millions of dollars of narcotics-related proceeds in the Joumaa network. Both men used their organizations to launder money for the Joumaa organization through the Lebanese financial system, federal authorities said. Harb is a dual citizen of Venezuela and Lebanon, and Chibli is a citizen of Lebanon.
The Kingpin Act is a federal law that targets the financial networks of significant narcotics traffickers and their organizations worldwide.
Both Harb and Saleh each had a brother designated by Treasury under the Kingpin Act in Wednesday's action for their roles in the Joumaa network. Three companies under the control of both men were sanctioned as well.
Ayman Joumaa was designated under the Kingpin Act in January 2011 for his role as a high-level money launderer and drug trafficker with operations in the Americas, Middle East, Europe and Africa. He was indicted by a U.S. District Court in Virginia in November 2011 for being the leader of an international money -laundering effort that coordinated the shipments of cocaine destined for the United States from Colombia to the Los Zetas drug cartel in Mexico.
Treasury's actions, which prohibit any U.S. citizen from conducting financial and commercial activity with the entities named, and freeze any of their assets under U.S. jurisdiction, were carried out in coordination with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"These sanctions will go a long way toward ensuring that the entire Joumaa network is brought to justice," John Arvanitis, chief of financial operations for the DEA, said in the same written statement.