U.S. Sanctions Hamas-IRGC Facilitators

August 29, 2019

On August 29, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned four individuals responsible for transferring tens of millions of dollars between Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hamas in Gaza. Muhammad Sarur, Kamal Abdelrahman Aref Awad, Fawaz Mahmud Ali Nasser, and Muhammad Kamal are accused of funneling money to Hamas’s operational arm, Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, through Hezbollah’s sanctioned bank, Bayt al-Mal. “These facilitators funneled tens of millions of dollars from Iran’s Qods Force through Hizballah in Lebanon to HAMAS for terrorist attacks originating from the Gaza Strip.  HAMAS’s continued violent campaign against innocent civilians and the state of Israel is to the great detriment of the people in Gaza,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.  “This Administration will not falter to hold HAMAS and its Iranian leaders accountable for their violence.  Treasury will continue to disrupt terrorist networks by targeting those who generate funds to carry out the Iranian regime’s violent agenda.” The following are press statements from Treasury and the State Department. 

 

 

U.S. State Department Sanctions Announcement  

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in partnership with the Sultanate of Oman, sanctioned today four financial facilitators responsible for moving tens of millions of dollars between Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and Hamas’s Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza.  OFAC designated Muhammad Sarur, Kamal Abdelrahman Aref Awad, Fawaz Mahmud Ali Nasser, and Muhammad Kamal al-Ayy under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. 

Today’s designation reflects our determination to counter Iran’s malign influence and the financial, material, or technological support, or financial or other services to or in support of Hamas.  We will continue to target individuals and entities involved in financing and providing support to Hamas and their destabilizing violence against Israel and the Palestinian people. 

 

U.S. Treasury Press Release 

Treasury SealToday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in partnership with the Sultanate of Oman, designated financial facilitators responsible for moving tens of millions of dollars between Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and HAMAS’s operational arm, the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza.  OFAC designated Muhammad Sarur, Kamal Abdelrahman Aref Awad, Fawaz Mahmud Ali Nasser, and Muhammad Kamal al-Ayy for providing financial, material, technological support, financial or other services to, or in support of, HAMAS.  These individuals were designated under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. 

“These facilitators funneled tens of millions of dollars from Iran’s Qods Force through Hizballah in Lebanon to HAMAS for terrorist attacks originating from the Gaza Strip.  HAMAS’s continued violent campaign against innocent civilians and the state of Israel is to the great detriment of the people in Gaza,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.  “This Administration will not falter to hold HAMAS and its Iranian leaders accountable for their violence.  Treasury will continue to disrupt terrorist networks by targeting those who generate funds to carry out the Iranian regime’s violent agenda.” 

The Lebanon and Gaza-based financial facilitators targeted today are critical intermediaries between the Iranian regime, and the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades and end users in the West Bank.  At the center of this scheme is a Lebanon-based financial operative, Muhammad Sarur, who has been identified as being in charge of all financial transfers between the IRGC-QF and the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, and has an extensive history working at Hizballah’s sanctioned bank, Bayt al-Mal.  Bayt al-Mal was designated by OFAC in 2006 for being owned or controlled by, and acting for or on behalf of Hizballah.  Also sanctioned today are three Gaza-based individuals who have been integral to providing funding to HAMAS’s prisoner and martyrs infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza. 

HAMAS was designated by the Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in October 1997 and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to E.O. 13224 in October 2001.  It was also listed as a Specially Designated Terrorist (SDT) in January 1995 in the Annex to E.O. 12947, which targets terrorists who threaten to disrupt the Middle East peace process. 

MUHAMMAD SARUR 

Muhammad Sarur (Sarur) provides financial, material, technological support, financial or other services to or in support of, HAMAS. 

Sarur, a Beirut, Lebanon-based HAMAS and Hizballah-linked financial operative, is in charge of transferring tens of millions of dollars per year from the IRGC-QF to the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.  As of 2014, Sarur was identified as in charge of all money transfers from the IRGC-QF to Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.  Overall, in the past four years, the IRGC-QF transferred over U.S. $200 million dollars to the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.  The IRGC-QF, a branch of the IRGC, has provided material support to numerous terrorist groups.  The IRGC-QF is a designated FTO and SDGT, and the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades is a designated FTO, SDGT, and SDT. 

Sarur served as a middle-man between the IRGC-QF and HAMAS and worked with Hizballah operatives to ensure funds were provided to the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.  In 2011 and extending through 2016, Sarur worked for Hizballah’s Bayt al-Mal.  To transfer funds to HAMAS in Gaza, Sarur coordinated transfers through an individual who served as a Gaza-based HAMAS financial facilitator and money smuggling operations officer. 

KAMAL ABDELRAHMAN AREF AWAD 

Kamal Abdelrahman Aref Awad (Awad) provides financial, material, technological support, financial or other services to or in support of, HAMAS. 

In early 2018, Awad, a Gaza-based HAMAS financial associate, coordinated with the same Gaza-based HAMAS financial facilitator, leveraged by Sarur, to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in deposits for HAMAS. 

As of 2017, the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades worked through Awad to distribute funds to the families of “martyrs” in the West Bank.  Also in 2017, Awad coordinated the mismanagement of certain HAMAS prisoner entitlement funds.  As of early 2016, HAMAS senior official Salih al-Aruri relied on Awad for detailed information regarding HAMAS prisoners and payments to HAMAS prisoners.  Salih al-Aruri was designated by OFAC as an SDGT in September 2015 for acting for or on behalf of, and providing financial support to, HAMAS. 

FAWAZ MAHMUD ALI NASSER & MUHAMMAD AL-AYY 

Fawaz Muhmud Ali Nasser (Nasser) and Muhammad Kamal al-Ayy (al-Ayy) provide financial, material, technological support, financial or other services to or in support of, HAMAS. 

As of mid-2018, Nasser, a Gaza-based HAMAS financial auditor, worked with Gaza-based money exchanger al-Ayy to transfer Iranian funds through Hizballah to HAMAS and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a designated FTO, SDGT, and SDT.  Nasser also managed funds related to HAMAS prisoners, including those in the Ofer prison. 

As of late 2016, al-Ayy worked with a Gaza-based HAMAS financial facilitator to coordinate funds transfers to HAMAS. 

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS 

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these targets that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.  OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.  In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action.

 

Senior Administration Briefing on Sanctions 

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  It is always a pleasure to collaborate with my indefatigable and most excellent colleagues from Treasury and State on these actions to target the network that facilitates the Islamic Republic of Iran in illicit financing of terrorism across the region. By targeting the individuals and an institution that enable the flow of funding to Hamas, in Gaza, and Hizballah, in Lebanon, these designations will make it increasingly difficult for Tehran to dispense the increasingly limited funds at its disposal. 
  
Given the escalating economic crisis in which Iran finds itself, and the evermore-grim hardships the regime is inflicting on the Iranian people, it is indeed unconscionable that Tehran is squandering its resources, fueling violence and instability in the Middle East.  But it should come as no surprise. 
  
For the last 40 years, the regime has prioritized developing proxy militias that have their own long and bloody legacies to violence against civilians.  Hamas has utterly ruined Gaza, isolating and impoverishing the Palestinian people living there, while Hamas uses the funds from Iran to support an endless cycle of violence against Israel. 
  
Hizballah has systematically infiltrated Lebanese institutions.  And the designation of the Jammal Trust Bank illustrates how they are trying to exploit the Lebanese financial system, historically a proud strength of that country. 
  
It is important to note that Jammal is a relatively minor institution, and the United States continues to have a robust and positive relationship with the Central Bank of Lebanon. 
  
The designation of Jammal should therefore be seen as a warning shot that Hizballah and its Iranian puppet masters should keep their hands off the Lebanese financial system, or be prepared to face the consequences, and that all legitimate institutions should be extremely wary of any interactions with Hizballah or its affiliates. 
  
It is outrageous that Hamas and Hizballah are allowing a malign foreign actor to prey on the Lebanese and Palestinian people.  The NSC will continue to strongly support the efforts of our interagency partners to choke off every last avenue of funding for Iran and its proxies, unless or until they stop prioritizing violent terrorism as a means to project power. 
  
The good news is that our concerted efforts over the last 30 months are bearing fruit.  In March, the New York Times quoted a member of an Iranian militia in Syria lamenting, "The golden days are gone and will never return.  Iran doesn’t have enough money to give us."  

In May, the Washington Post reported that, quote, "Since President Trump introduced sweeping new restrictions on trade with Iran last year…Iran's ability to finance allies, such as Hezbollah, has been curtailed.  Hezbollah, the best funded and most senior of Tehran’s proxies, has seen a sharp fall in its revenue and is being forced to make draconian cuts to its spending, according to Hezbollah officials, members and supporters." 
  
And as we move into the fall, the situation will grow even worse for Tehran, and today's actions will only increase the pressure.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I'm going to go into some specific details about these two separate counterterrorism actions that we're taking today.  
  
First, as was already mentioned, OFAC took action today against what we call "Hizballah’s bank of choice" in Lebanon -- this bank, Jammal Trust Bank -- for knowingly enabling Hizballah’s financial activities.  
  
We are also targeting its subsidiaries: Trust Insurance S.A.L., Trust Insurance Services S.A.L., and Trust Life Insurance Company S.A.L.  
  
Corrupt financial institutions, like Jammal Trust, that facilitate the funding of terrorist organizations threaten the very integrity of the international financial system, and we will, make no mistake, continue to take action to disrupt them. 
  
The United States remains committed to working closely, as my colleague already mentioned, with the Central Bank of Lebanon to deny Hizballah access to the Lebanese and international financial system.  
  
Also today, separately, but in partnership with Oman, we took action against Lebanon and Gaza-based financial facilitators that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Iran’s Qods Force through Hizballah, in Lebanon, to Hamas for terrorist attacks originating from the Gaza Strip. 
  
With today’s designations, this administration will have designated over 50 Hizballah-related individuals and entities since 2017.  The message here is loud and clear: The U.S. will continue to disrupt terrorist networks by targeting those who generate funds to carry out the Iranian regime’s violent agenda. 
  
I'm now going to go into some of the specifics of these two actions.  First, I'll begin with our action against Jammal Trust.  Again, this is a Lebanon-based financial institution being designated for knowingly facilitating banking activities for Hizballah.  Jammal Trust is a medium-sized bank with 22 branches in Lebanon and three representative offices worldwide.  
  
According to Bankers' Almanac, it is the 26th largest bank in Lebanon.  Its role, I want to be clear, in Lebanon’s economy and financial system is, in fact, limited, but its role as Hizballah’s bank of choice is prominent. 
  
Jammal Trust has had a longstanding relationship with Hizballah, which dates back to at least the mid-2000s.  Since that time, Jammal Trust has knowingly provided financial services to Hizballah’s Executive Council and to U.S.-designated entities openly affiliated with Hizballah.  
  
Jammal Trust facilitates the banking activities of terrorist groups such as the Martyrs Foundation, which funnels money to the families of suicide bombers, subsidizing those who commit acts of terror against innocent victims.  They also promote funding to Al-Qard al-Hassan, which Hizballah uses as a cover to manage its financial activity. 
  
In fact, after senior officials from Al-Qard al-Hassan identified themselves as such to Jammal Trust, they were able to open personal accounts through which they conducted business on Al-Qard al-Hassan’s behalf -- all to tell you there was no AML/ CFT standards whatsoever in this bank.  
  
We want to note that this action does not implicate any other Lebanese bank or financial institution, but it should send a clear signal to banks that providing financial services to Hizballah will put their entire business at risk, not to mention that it betrays their responsibilities to their innocent customers.  
  
As a result of this action, it is our expectation that Jammal Trust will no longer be able to support Hizballah’s financial activities or masquerade as a legitimate Lebanese financial institution.  
  
For far too long, Jammal Trust Bank and Hizballah have prioritized the terrorist agenda of its sponsor, Iran, at the expense of the Lebanese Shia community.  
  
Second, I'm going to talk about the other action that we took today.  As I mentioned, we took action against four Lebanon- and Gaza-based financial facilitators that are responsible for funneling tens of millions of dollars between Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force and Hamas’s operational arm, the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza.  
  
In the past four years alone, the Qods Force has transferred over $200 million to Hamas's Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza.  And our action today seeks to cut off these four critical financial channels between the Iranian regime and the Izz-al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and Hamas's prisoner and so-called martyrs infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza. 
  
Specifically today, we designated Lebanon-based Muhammad Sarur, Gaza-based financial intermediaries Kamal Abdelrahman Aref Awad, Fawaz Mahmud Ali Nasser, and Muhammad Kamal al-Ayy for providing financial material or technological support to Hamas.  
  
At the center of the scheme, it was Lebanon-based Hamas and Hizballah-linked operative, Muhammad Sarur, who has been identified as in charge of all money transfers between the Qods Force and the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.  Sarur has close ties to Hizballah and has been employed by Hizballah's internal bank, Bayt al-Mal.   
  
It's worth noting that Hizballah operators -- operatives have assisted Sarur with money transfers to the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.  Hamas, as we all know, has continued a violent campaign against innocent civilians and the State of Israel, to the great detriment of the people in Gaza.  And this administration will not falter to hold Hamas and its Iranian leaders accountable for their violence.  
  
We will continue to disrupt terrorist networks, whether that be Hizballah, Hamas, or other terrorist organizations.  They will continue to be denied access to the international financial system, with severe consequences. 
  
These actions, again, are part of our continued campaign to eradicate terrorism and those who sponsor it, and to cut off these horrific actors and organizations from the international financial system. 
  
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I'll just say a couple of words about the Jammal Trust Bank sanctioning. Today's action on the bank is keeping with the administration's determination to counter Hizballah's terrorist activities in Lebanon.  That is consistent with our gloves-off approach of pressuring the organization.  
  
This Iranian proxy, Hizballah, who is already under severe pressure due to the campaign of sanctions against Iran -- limiting salaries, et cetera -- this is another effective and clear statement about how we are going to approach Hizballah and how we are approaching Hizballah.  
  
We've made clear our big concerns about Hizballah's activities, which run the gamut from terrorism to criminal enterprise, drug running, political assassinations, and intervention as a shock troop militia deploying in other states throughout the region, including Syria and Yemen.  
  
Hizballah's activities are also designed to enable the Iranian regime, to project this destabilizing power throughout the Arab world.  And I expect that they will continue to do so, notwithstanding.  Simply put, though: Hizballah's behavior threatens security, stability, and sovereignty in the region.  
  
We will not hesitate to continue designating individuals and entities involved in financing and providing support to Hizballah, including Hizballah's local allies. 
  
We, along with partners in Lebanon, are committed to ensuring that the Lebanese financial system is not exploited by terrorists, money launderers, and other criminals.  Jammal Trust misconduct undermines the integrity of the Lebanese financial system.  We will continue to work closely with the Central Bank of Lebanon and other Lebanese institutions to prevent illicit actors from threatening the integrity of Lebanon's banking system.  As my colleague said, it's a critical, important, and historic thriving institution in the country.  
   
Q    This Jammal Trust Bank, I think it was one of 11 banks that was sued by U.S. citizens in New York.  I believe it was back in January.  So why just this one particular bank?  And do you believe that there are a number of other banks that are engaged in similar activities?   
  
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So we can really only comment on the activities of the bank that we designated today.  I don’t have anything else to say about any other bank.  Of course, you know, it's notable, as I already mentioned, we consider this to be Hizballah's bank of choice.  And today we believe that kind of relationship should be coming to an end.  But, again, we don’t comment on -- we can only comment on the actions that we've taken.  
  
 Q    I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about just what the mechanism is in stopping transfers between Iran and Lebanon -- you know, where the United States has its point of insertion in that process in order to stop it from happening.  
  
And separately, on the larger question of Hizballah and Iran, I wonder if you could -- any of you -- talk a bit about the recent Israeli strikes in Syria and Lebanon, and whether the United States is playing any role in encouraging or discouraging those attacks, and just what you think of them in general.  Thank you. 
  
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  On the first one, look, what happens when we designate these banks, of course, is that there's, A, secondary sanctions, consequences, which is really very significant.  So it sends the message to any bank, anywhere, that's involved in funding, helping to finance Hizballah -- and, of course, the same goes for many different banks in connection with Iran -- that they're going to be cut off -- severely cut off from the international financial system. 
  
The other thing I wanted to point out, which we've said a couple of times, and I think it's really important to emphasize here, is that we do have a very good relationship with the Central Bank of Lebanon.  We have confidence that they'll take -- that we'll work with them, as we have many times in the past; that they'll take the right action here.  I mean, our objective in many of our actions, of course, if to ferret out Hizballah, IRGC, IRGC-Qods Force, other terrorist organizations, from the international financial system.  
  
We do that in a number of different ways.  One, we do that through actions, like the action that we're taking today that's really going to, I think, have a huge disruptive impact on this particular bank.  And then we also do that in the many strong relationships that we have across -- around the world with central banks and other governments, where we work very closely together, sometimes behind the scenes, but very closely together to make sure that their banks are not being used to finance or facilitate Hizballah.  And I'll turn it over to others for the second question. 
  
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I'll leave it for the Israelis to comment on what they did or they didn’t do.  But the United States neither encourages nor discourages the Israeli attacks.  The United States believes that the government of Israel has a right to defend itself from threatening activities throughout the region, wherever they may be. 
  
And I would say, though -- because if it was mentioned in the context of the Jammal Trust Bank -- you all most certainly know that these designations take months to prepare.  They're the product of extensive research, intelligence, vetting, lawyers, et cetera, and an interagency process.  So these were in the works for a long time before this weekend's events occurred. 
  
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  It's our position that Israel is only acting because of Iran's actions.  If Iran was not pouring heavy weapons and fighters into Israel's neighbors with the express purpose of threatening Israel, I don't think Israel would be needing to take any of these actions.  And we fully support Israel's right to self-defense, and denounce Iran's regional campaign to violence.  
  
Q    The U.S. supports Israel's right to self-defense and Iraqi sovereignty.  But if Israel attacks targets in Iraq, what does the United States do when Israel's right to defend tramples over Iraq's sovereignty?  
     
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  That's actually an excellent question for the Iranians.  Where is their respect for Iraqi sovereignty when they are putting this material into Iraq?  That seems, to me, a pretty gross violation of sovereignty if that's the topic under discussion.  
  
 Q    Do you have a current estimate of foreign exchange earnings for Iran post-sanctions and how much oil it's still able to export?  
     
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We don't have August numbers on that.  And I'd need to get back to you on what the specific July number was.  My recollection was in the half-million barrel range.  But I think we can confirm that.  
  
 Q    Since the Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri was here, were these actions discussed with him?  And I know you said you have confidence in the Central Bank, but given how vulnerable and volatile the economic situation of Lebanon is, how confident are you that these sanctions won't tip it over? 
     
 SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah.  So we're not going to get into any diplomatic conversations that we have.  But you know, again, what I mentioned before is that this is -- according at least to the Bankers' Almanac, this is the 26th largest bank in Lebanon.  We believe its role in the Lebanese economy and the financial system is limited.  
  
You know, we do expect the Central Bank of Lebanon will take appropriate action here.  And it's not our expectation that this will have a spillover effect.  What I think it will do is send the message, loud and clear, to that community that the United States is very, very serious about disrupting Hizballah's financing and we're going to continue to take action where we believe it's warranted. But this action is limited to Jammal Trust.  It's not any other bank.  
  
 Q    I wondered if you could just elaborate a little bit, bearing in mind that these sanctions decisions were through the pipeline for a long time, but the timing is notable.  
 Is there any kind of signal here -- is it either a diplomatic signal about U.S. efforts to support Israel at a tense moment here with Iranian proxies?  Or do you think there's any really practical effect in the short-term that might undercut some of the proxy networks that are putting pressure on Israel enough to alleviate the potential (inaudible) conflict?  
  
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think if you take a look at what we've done in the last two years -- two and a half years -- you will see that it's very often the case, on any given week, that we have a strong action against counterterrorism -- you know, against terrorist organization.  Obviously, we've continued to take very strong action against Iran -- the Qods Force. 
  
This is really -- these are two independent actions that follow a long stream of sanctions that we have done systematically.  We roll these out as they're ready, and we're going to just -- we're just going to continue to do so. 
  
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I would just reiterate what my colleague just said in terms of -- the Iranians, pretty much on a weekly basis, give us a reason to take an action like this.  It would be nice if we could claim that we were timing them so precisely.  But what is thoroughly reliable is Iranian provocation and violence, and just general malign behavior in the region.  And so that (inaudible) seems to be the one constant that is driving all of this activity. 
  
Q    Hi, this is Mona Austin with The Slice Report.  I'm really curious about why this particular bank is being singled out as significant in light of the number of banks that are already -- that have been in the past.  I know, in January of this year, I saw an article that talked about the Lebanese people here in the U.S. who sued banks for funding Hizballah.  So there are other banks that somehow have already been singled out.  
  
And I just wonder if you can elaborate on why this particular bank -- you already said that it was prominent in one sense but not necessarily one of the larger banks, per se, if I understand that correctly.  Can you just elaborate for us? 
  
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Again, as I already said at the beginning -- and thank you for the question -- we view this as a go-to bank for Hizballah, as I said.  You know, people show up and they proclaim themselves as part of Hizballah and they automatically, or it seems, that they get very quickly accounts they can use, though, for their own personal purposes, and also for the organization itself.  
  
So, again, I won't repeat myself, but this is an action that we thought was extremely important to take.  We've done -- we've taken a number of actions in the last two years against a number of different Hizballah-related identities and persons.  We've taken very considered action, for example, against some of the biggest financial facilitators for Hizballah -- their companies, their front companies, their shell companies.  
  
And, of course, we would note that we designated a Hizballah member of parliament, Amin Sherri , who coordinates Hizballah's financial activity at JTB with the bank's management.  I mean, there are numerous, numerous reasons for us to target this particular bank where we see this kind of activity.  
  
The message is also clear that we will not hesitate to take action.  This is a very important -- the Hizballah file for us is a very important part of our counterterrorism efforts, for all of the significant reasons that have been discussed on the call.  
  
Q    I just have two quick questions.  First, you keep talking about the helpfulness and the partnership with the Central Bank, but, at the same time, the Jammal Trust Bank, you said, have had the relationship with Hizballah since the mid-2000s.  And, presumably, the Central Bank has been dealing with it up until this point.  So the question is, can you elaborate maybe on how the Central Bank has been helpful in this regard? 
  
And the second question pertaining to the incidents with the drones in Beirut, we've seen that the Lebanese government has taken a stand in support of Hizballah's right to retaliate against Israel.  And even the Lebanese armed forces, presumably with U.S.-supplied weapons and ammunition, was firing against Israeli reconnaissance drones.  So do you see this in any way impacting current U.S. policies in Lebanon?  Thank you. 
  
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I just want to note -- sure, on the first point -- you know, we put this -- this is in the press release: Jammal Trust Bank itself had obscured its relationships and activities on behalf of Hizballah.  
  
And, you know, as I mentioned, we work with the Central Bank of Lebanon on a number of different -- and other Lebanese institutions, frankly, in a number of different ways.  I can’t tell you specifically what actions they're going to take here, but we have every -- we have every expectation that they will take significant actions to ensure that this activity doesn’t continue.  
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah.  And, Tony, I would just add that it's our position that if neighbors of Israel allow a malign third country that does not share a border with Israel to use their sovereign territory as holding ground for increasingly sophisticated dangerous weapons, the only purpose of which is to attack Israel, I think those governments, if they cannot curb or control those elements, are going to have to be prepared to be responsible for them.  

So, be it Lebanon, be it Syria, be it Iraq, I think that has to be our very clear message to those governments.