State Dept. adds 2 top Hezbollah officials to terrorist list

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. State Department listed as designated terrorists two Hezbollah officials, including the son of a former top commander believed assassinated by Israel.

A statement Monday named Ali Damush, a senior aide to the Lebanese group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, and Mustaga Mughniyeh, the son of Imad Mughniyeh, the former chief of Hezbollah military and terrorist operations. The elder Mughniyeh was assassinated in 2008 in Syria in an operation believed to have been carried out by Israel’s Mossad agency with CIA backing.

Damush helps recruit terrorists and gather intelligence for Hezbollah’s overseas terrorist attacks.

The younger Mughniyeh, the State Department release said, at one time led Hezbollah’s operations on the Golan Heights. One of Israel’s chief concerns arising from the civil war raging in Syria since 2011 is that Hezbollah, an ally of the Assad regime, gains a foothold on the strategic plateau. Israel has controlled part of the Golan Heights since the 1967 Six-Day War.

State Department designation as a terrorist keeps individuals from conducting any transactions involving the U.S. financial system and inhibits their travel, as they appear on lists shared by law enforcement agencies.

The Obama administration since the Iran nuclear deal was reached last year has sought to work with Israel to sanction Iran’s non-nuclear disruptive activities in the region. Israel’s government said the sanctions relief for nuclear rollback deal would embolden Iran, including by allowing it funds to back proxies like Hezbollah.

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