US puts up $10 million reward for Hezbollah information

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil in Beirut on March 22, 2019.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil in Beirut on March 22, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States on Monday (April 22) offered a US$10 million (S$14 million) reward for information that would disrupt the finances of Lebanon's Shiite militant movement Hezbollah.

The State Department said it would give the money to anyone who provides intelligence that allows the United States to disrupt Hezbollah in key ways.

The areas include information on Hezbollah's donors, on financial institutions that assist its transactions and on businesses controlled by the movement.

President Donald Trump's administration has put a top priority on reducing the influence of Iran, the primary backer of Hezbollah.

The State Department listed three alleged Hezbollah financiers as examples of activities it was seeking to stop, with one, Ali Youssef Charara, allegedly funding the group by investing millions of dollars from Hezbollah in the telecommunications industry in West Africa.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pointed to a recent appeal by Hezbollah for donations as a sign of US success in curbing Iran.

On a visit last month to Beirut, Pompeo urged Lebanon to counter the "dark ambitions" of Iran and Hezbollah but was rebuffed by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who said Hezbollah was not a terrorist group and enjoyed a wide base.

 
 

The United States has vowed for decades to fight Shiite militants in Lebanon, with memories still bitter over the 1983 attack on a military barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans.

Hezbollah, however, also functions as a political party, with posts in the current cabinet, and enjoys support among some Lebanese who recall its guerrilla campaign that led Israel to withdraw from the country in 2000.