Hizbollah leader on US, Saudi blacklist

WASHINGTON • Washington and Riyadh have issued their first "joint terrorist designation" - blacklisting a Hizbollah leader.

Hashem Safieddine is head of the executive council of Hizbollah, an Iranian-backed Lebanese armed movement, which Washington has branded a "foreign terrorist organisation".

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia joined the United States in designating Hashem Safieddine," the US State Department said in a statement last Friday. "As a result, any of his assets held in Saudi Arabia are frozen, and transfers through the Kingdom's financial sector are prohibited."

Separately, the department's Bureau of Counterterrorism tweeted that this marked the "first-ever" State Department and foreign nation "joint terrorist designation", underlining the close cooperation between US and Saudi officials.

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"The action against Safieddine is the latest example of the strong partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia in combating the financing of terrorism," the State Department said.

The official Saudi news agency SPA confirmed Safieddine's listing, and alleged he had given his organisation advice on carrying out terrorist acts and on supplying support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

US President Donald Trump has chosen the kingdom as the venue of his first foreign presidential visit and, over the weekend, he would have met Saudi King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud and addressed an audience of up to 50 leaders from across the Muslim world on the threat of extremism.

Safieddine, a Lebanese citizen in his 50s, is the head of Hizbollah's executive council, which runs the group's political affairs and social and economic programmes in Lebanon's Shi'ite community.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 21, 2017, with the headline 'Hizbollah leader on US, Saudi blacklist'. Print Edition | Subscribe