Categorized | Lebanon

US offers $12 mln bounty on two Hezbollah leaders, cites ‘homeland’ threat

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The US has offered a total of $12 million in rewards for the capture of two senior Hezbollah officials, saying the Iranian-backed group is plotting attacks inside the US. The announcement comes as Washington mulls canceling the Iran nuclear deal.

A $7 million bounty applies to Talal Hamiyah, head of Hezbollah’s external operations. Another $5 million is being offered for Fuad Shukr, the group’s senior military official, accused of masterminding the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing that killed 241 US Marines.

Hezbollah is “focused on US interests, including here in the homeland,” National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas J. Rasmussen told reporters at the State Department Tuesday.

While he declined to comment on any specific, credible or imminent threats, Rasmussen said the US intelligence community continues to see “activity on behalf of Hezbollah here inside the homeland.”

“It’s our assessment that Hezbollah is determined to give itself a potential homeland option as a critical component of its terrorism playbook,” he added.

The FBI arrested two Hezbollah operatives in June, one in New York and another in Michigan, said Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan A. Sales.

Asked whether this would affect Washington’s financial support to the government of Lebanon, which includes several Hezbollah members, Sales replied that it will not. He added that the US does not recognize any distinctions within the group.

“Hezbollah has no political wing. It is a single organization, a terrorist organization, and it is rotten to its core,” Sales said, pointing to Iran as the group’s chief sponsor.

The State Department designated Hezbollah – or Hizballah, as the US government spells it – as a foreign terrorist organization in October 8, 1997. In February this year, the US offered a $5 million bounty for Mohammed Ali Hamadei, a Hezbollah member who allegedly took part in the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in which US sailor Robert Stethem was killed.

Although the bounties were officially announced Tuesday, news of their existence was reported Monday by the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv. … Full article

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