By Wasim Saifulddin
BEIRUT (AA) – The U.S. has called on the Lebanese authorities to distance Shia group Hezbollah from the country’s financial system.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea concluded a two-day visit to Lebanon on Tuesday for talks with Lebanese officials on combating illicit finance.
Billingslea “urged Lebanon to take every possible measure to ensure Hezbollah is not part of the financial sector," the U.S. Embassy in Beirut said in a statement.
He also “stressed the importance of countering Iranian malign activity in Lebanon, and the U.S. commitment to help Lebanon protect its financial system from Hezbollah, ISIS, and other terrorist organizations,” the statement said, using another name of the Daesh terrorist group.
Classified by the U.S. as a terrorist group, Hezbollah is a member of the Lebanese government.
The U.S. Congress has passed several laws to dry up Hezbollah funding and separate Lebanese banks and other financial infrastructure from the Shia group.
As for the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act II (HIFPA II), Billingslea affirmed that the law had nothing to do with Lebanese Shia community but it “targets Hezbollah’s financial activities worldwide.”
The U.S. accuses the Lebanese group of "obtaining funding through drug trafficking" and sending it to its fighters overseas, mostly to fighters engaged in Syrian crisis.