(October 23, 2020 / JNS) The United States announced on Friday that it will offer a $10 million reward for “information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms” of the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hezbollah.
The U.S. State Department’s Rewards for Justice program is seeking “information on the activities, networks and associates of Hezbollah that form a part of its financial support, which includes financiers and facilitators like Muhammad Qasir, Muhammad Qasim al-Bazzal and Ali Qasir.”
Muhammad Qasir “is a critical link between Hezbollah and its primary funder, Iran” and has been a significant conduit for financial disbursements from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force (IRGC-QF) to Hezbollah, according to the State Department.
In April 2019, the United States designated the IRGC as a terrorist entity.
He also “directs the Hezbollah unit that assists in the transfer of weapons, technology and other support from Syria to Lebanon,” according to the State Department.
Qasim al-Bazzal is a “key financier for Hezbollah and the IRGC-QF,” and a “co-founder of the Syria-based Talaqi Group and oversees other terrorist financing enterprises, such as Hokoul S.A.L. Offshore and Nagham Al Hayat,” according to the department. “Since late 2018, al-Bazzal has used the Talaqi Group and his other companies to finance, coordinate and obscure various illicit IRGC-QF-linked oil shipments.”
Ali Qasir is “the managing director of the Hezbollah-linked front company Talaqi Group,” where he “assigns maritime vessels to deliver shipments for the terrorist network based on the IRGC-QF’s guidance” and “has overseen sales price negotiations and collaborated to cover expenses and to facilitate an Iranian oil shipment by the Adrian Darya 1 for the benefit of the IRGC-QF.”
The oil tanker, previously called the Grace 1 and allegedly owned by the IRGC, was reported carrying around 2.1 million barrels of crude oil in September 2019 worth $130 million and switched off its Automatic Identification System, fueling speculation that it was heading towards Syria, which would violate U.S. sanctions against Iran’s energy sector.
Additionally, Ali Qasir “represents the Lebanon-based Hokoul company in negotiations over its supply of Iranian crude to Syria. [He] has worked with others to use the Talaqi Group to facilitate the sale of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of steel,” according to the State Department.
Muhammad Qasir, Ali Qasir and Qasim al-Bazzal have previously been sanctioned by the United States.
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