U.S. Sanctions Amhaz Electronics Firm for Allegedly Helping Hizbullah Buy Material Used in Drones

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The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday sanctioned a network of firms and individuals in Lebanon, the UAE and China for allegedly procuring sophisticated military equipment for Hizbullah, including materials for aerial drones.

“As the Treasury Department announced today, the United States targeted a key Hizbullah procurement network by designating brothers Kamel Mohamad Amhaz and Issam Mohamad Amhaz; their business, Stars Group Holding, which is based in Beirut and has subsidiaries in China and the UAE; and certain managers and individuals who supported their illicit activities,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

Later on Thursday, a Stars Group manager denied the accusations in remarks to LBCI television, saying his firm had not yet received the sanctions decree in an official manner.

“Hizbullah relies heavily on front companies such as Stars Group Holding, which continue to procure dual-use material for the organization to enhance its military capabilities,” the State Department said in its statement.

It accused Stars Group Holding of covertly purchasing sophisticated electronics and other technology from suppliers around the world, including “a range of engines, communications, electronics, and navigation equipment.”

“These materials have directly supported Hizbullah’s development of unmanned aerial vehicles for its destructive military activities in Syria,” it noted.

The State Department said today’s designation “illustrates yet again the extent of Hizbullah’s international presence and reach,” calling on Washington's partners to take action against “Hizbullah’s illicit networks, which fuel its violent political agenda and enhance its ability to engage in destabilizing activities in Syria, throughout the Middle East more broadly, and around the world.”

The Treasury Department named for sanctions Stars Group Holding, its subsidiaries, its owner, executives Kamel Mohamad Amhaz and Issam Mohamad Amhaz, and two Stars Group managers, Ayman Ibrahim and Ali Zeaiter.

It also named Hanna Elias Khalifeh, whom it described as a Lebanese businessman and Hizbullah member who worked with the Stars Group.

"These individuals and entities have relied on false end-user certificates, mislabeled air waybills, and other fraudulent methods to avoid export restrictions and otherwise conceal Hizbullah as the ultimate end-user or beneficiary of these goods," the Treasury said.

The sanctions place a freeze on any of their assets under U.S. jurisdiction and ban Americans from any business with them.

According to U.S. officials quoted by the Wall Street Journal, the network is run out of Beirut and has successfully procured engines, communications electronics and navigation equipment for Hizbullah from companies inside the U.S., Europe, Canada and Asia in violation of American exports laws.

"With disturbing reach far beyond Lebanon, Hizbullah's extensive procurement networks exploit the international financial system to enhance its military capabilities in Syria and its terrorist activities worldwide," David Cohen, the Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said Thursday.

"This global terrorist activity and expanding criminal network belie Hizbullah's claimed purpose as a national liberation movement," Cohen added.

The Obama administration has increasingly targeted Hizbullah and its financial networks. In recent years, the U.S. has charged the group with running illicit businesses, including drug trafficking, to fund its operations – allegations Hizbullah has repeatedly denied.

In 2011, the Treasury blacklisted Lebanon's then eight-largest bank, Lebanese Canadian Bank, for allegedly helping Hizbullah launder hundreds of millions of dollars in drug profits. The bank was eventually taken over by the Lebanese government and liquidated.

"It is critical that countries throughout the world work together to combat this dangerous organization and sever it from sources of revenue and support," Cohen said.

Hizbullah, along with Iran and Russia, has emerged as a top ally of the Syrian regime in its fight against rebel groups that have sought to overthrow the Damascus government.

Hizbullah has sent thousands of fighters as well as military advisers into Syria, arguing that its military intervention in the neighboring country is necessary to fend off the threat of extremist Sunni groups and prevent the fall of the country into the hands of the U.S. and Israel.

Y.R.

SourceNaharnet
Comments 15
Thumb ex-fpm 10 July 2014, 19:32

"This global terrorist activity and expanding criminal network belie Hizbullah's claimed purpose as a national liberation movement," Cohen added.

This is very true, but a bit late for the USA to come up with these sanctions.

Thumb _mowaten_ 10 July 2014, 19:42

lol just look at who you are taking as reference.

Thumb sevilla 11 July 2014, 08:35

it's the content that matters!

Thumb _mowaten_ 10 July 2014, 19:39

and here is was thinking they got the drones from iran. the fact that they made them themselves is even cooler! congrats to the engineers behind this success!

Missing cedars 11 July 2014, 04:08

Dave Cohen a Jew trying to ignite and renew his findings after 10 yrs. to his claim why is it ok for his home country Israel to own nuclear bombs and other Arabs or Iran can't have nukes?
This is where we should stop short about the us failed foreign policies. Why is the world letting today Israel bomb the Palestinians from the sky and no one has any balls to speak up and stop them? This is how extremism gets created, you thrown a rocket on a family's house and then the survivals from that family will end up a suicide bomber. This is a lesson for Hezbollah, as your enjoying the Syrian territory you are going to live in fear all life afraid of being targeted by suicide attacks.

Thumb eagledawn 10 July 2014, 19:52

Terrorists, plain and simple.

Thumb _mowaten_ 11 July 2014, 10:04

you got terrorized by the drones eagledown? it's true that US predators are so much cuter, and they dont conduct daily extrajudicial executions around the world. US really has the moral highground here, eh?

Thumb Kalzyturks 10 July 2014, 22:45

Before the invasion to Iraq, they attempt to look like peace makers with Israel & Palestine.

Every time something happens in the middle east, they try to balance it with a public show of action... Sanctions... Threats... Support... Peace... Etc..

This is just another tactic to ease what's happening in Palestine.
"don't worry well get HA for you"

This will do nothing to the company or HA since they don't do business with these two any way. It's just a public stunt.

War in Afghanistan, ploy to divert attention they looked like making peace in Israel... Iraq the same.

And when it is said to them: "Make not mischief on the earth," they say: "We are only peacemakers." (2:11)

Thumb Tony.Farris 11 July 2014, 03:46

@_mowaten_ I thought you can't lie or spread propaganda in the holly month?

Thumb Kalzyturks 11 July 2014, 04:47

Tony.Farris

It's only when they are at war or feel threatened then lying is permitted.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taqiyya

Thumb _mowaten_ 11 July 2014, 10:28

lol.. idiots

Thumb sevilla 11 July 2014, 08:02

shiites are exempt...they can lie and kill even in ramadan.

Thumb freedomarch 11 July 2014, 05:08

God Bless America indeed.

Thumb _mowaten_ 11 July 2014, 10:02

lol @ your foreign allegiances

Thumb _mowaten_ 11 July 2014, 10:27

hahahah and how is pledging allegiance to the backer of our enemy "intelligent"?