Friday, January 09, 2009

US goes after Hizbullah's Waad rebuilding effort

It's about time. The wheels of just grind slowly, eventually it works.

Beirut's Daily Star whines and decrees that "resistance" is not terrorism:
US goes after Hizbullah's Waad rebuilding effort
The US government has placed the Waad Project, a Hizbullah-affiliated reconstruction venture formed after the 2006 war with Israel, on a blacklist of individuals and organizations that it says sponsor or participate in "terrorism." The US Treasury, in consultation with the departments of State and Justice, announced late Tuesday that the Waad Project had been designated under Executive Order 13224 because of its support for Hizbullah's "terrorist" activities.

"The Waad Project is another example of Hizbullah's use of deceptive tactics to support its military and terrorist apparatus," said Stuart Levey, an under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

The United States considers Hizbullah a "terrorist" organization, and the Treasury Department says that Waad, which means promise in Arabic, has used its resources, estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars, to provide material support for the group.

Under Executive Order 13224, the US Treasury has the power to freeze the assets of groups and individuals with holdings under US jurisdiction and to prohibit US citizens from engaging financially with such groups.

Hizbullah's primary construction firm, Jihad al-Binaa, was designated under the same executive order in May 2007, and the Treasury Department asserted that since then Hizbullah has increasingly relied on the Waad Project to raise funds.

According to a Treasury press release, the Waad Project has rebuilt Hizbullah's command center in Beirut's southern suburbs following the 2006 conflict, as well as underground weapons storage facilities and other military infrastructure.

Despite the heavy publicity that has surrounded Waad, the statement claimed that the project had tried to mask its affiliation with Hizbullah and quoted the project's general manager as saying that donors to the reconstruction project had requested anonymity over fears of the organization's ties and the financial repercussions of donating.

A Waad representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity, flatly rejected the US designation and broader US claims about Hizbullah.

"We are not terrorist. The resistance is not terrorist. We support the resistance. We are with any resistance that concerns itself with defending our land and our people," the official told The Daily Star Thursday. "We have a right and a responsibility to rebuild our infrastructure and defend our rights."

"The Americans enjoy this right, so why can't we? We want to help the Lebanese people. This has nothing to do with politics or the government."

An official at the US Embassy in Lebanon said the decision had been made in Washington after consultations among the Treasury, State and Justice departments.

In the online article, they show a picture of a building. So innocent... as evidence has shown during the 2006 war, Hezbullah have built buildings and mosques - and put rocket launchers and weapons silos - as well as military command centers underneath them.

"Just resistance"

A side note, as I understand it (not a US law expert), if the justice department singled out the "waad" and a firm called "Jihad al Binaa" (construction holy war?!) - that means they had evidence they are contributing to a military effort or are in direct control and involvement with individuals or groups who conduct in what is designated by the state department as a terrorist group.

Side note 2: How many Arab Americans in Michigan have direct contact with these groups? (I have no access to such data)

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