U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., applauded the Trump administration for continuing to sanction Hezbollah.
This week, the U.S. Treasury Department announced new sanctions against three individuals connected to Hezbollah which the federal government has designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). The new sanctions target Hezbollah members Amin Sherri and Muhammad Hasan Ra’d, who both sit in the Parliament of Lebanon, and Wafiq Safa.
“The Treasury Department’s new sanctions against Hezbollah operatives reaffirm America’s strong commitment to countering Iran-backed Hezbollah, a terrorist group that poses grave dangers to the U.S., Israel, and other allies,” Rubio said on Tuesday. “It’s critical for the U.S. to hold accountable Hezbollah terrorists and their enablers, who not only continue to threaten the security and stability of Lebanon, Israel, and the wider Middle East, but also are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, including the 241 Americans murdered in the Beirut Marine Barracks bombing on October 23, 1983.”
Back in July 2017, Rubio and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, both of whom serve on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, unveiled the “Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act.” The bill, which was also championed by U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Id., the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, would expand sanctions created by the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act" which Rubio and Shaheen brought out back in 2015, targeting companies that provide financial, technological and other help to Hezbollah or help with its fundraising and recruiting. The proposal also requires the White House to report to Congress whether financial institutes in Iran and other state sponsors of terrorism are helping Hezbollah.
President Donald Trump signed the bill into law back in October and Rubio weighed in on the new law.
“Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, including the 241 Americans murdered in the Beirut Marine Barracks bombing on October 23, 1983, and they continue to pose grave dangers to the United States, Israel, and other allies. The Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act is another important step in strengthening international efforts to combat Hezbollah’s terrorist and missile threats,” Rubio said. “I thank President Trump for signing my Hezbollah sanctions bill into law, and for welcoming relatives of the Beirut Marines to the White House today to honor the ultimate sacrifice that these U.S. servicemembers made 35 years ago. As Beirut Marine families seek justice in U.S. courts against those responsible for this heinous attack, I urge the administration, through the Solicitor General, to tell the U.S. Supreme Court that it opposes the Iranian terrorist regime’s request to overturn a federal appeals court decision preventing $1.7 billion in frozen assets from returning to the Central Bank of Iran.”
Over on the House side, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, and U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY, the ranking Democrat on the committee, brought a similar bill through the House. Most members of the Florida delegation cosponsored the bill. Royce and Engel worked with Rubio and Shaheen to craft the 2015 sanctions legislation.
Rubio and Shaheen have worked against Hezbollah before. Their 2015 legislation imposed sanctions on businesses and banks that knowingly work with Hezbollah and its affiliates including the al-Manar Hezbollah television station. That legislation also directed the president to report to Congress on Hezbollah’s efforts and what the U.S. government is doing to fight that terrorist group. The bill was sponsored in the House by Royce, with U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, now the chairman of the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, as a key co-sponsor. In 2014, Rubio and Shaheen brought out a resolution urging the EU to recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.