US adds senior Hezbollah official and IS Sinai leader to terrorism list


Saudi Arabia also imposes sanctions on Hezbollah's Hashem Safieddine in move hailed by State Department as 'first ever' joint designation

Sayyed Hashem Safieddine (L) pays his condolences to the son of Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine who was killed in Syria in May 2016 (AFP)
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Friday 19 May 2017 20:19 BST

The US State Department on Friday added Hashem Safieddine, a senior member of Hezbollah's executive council, and Muhammad al-Isawi, the leader of an Islamic State (IS) affiliate in Egypt's Sinai region, to its list of designated terrorists.

In a move announced on the same day that US President Donald Trump is due to head to Saudi Arabia on his first trip overseas, the State Department said that Riyadh had also imposed sanctions on Safieddine.

The State Department hailed the move as "the latest example of the strong partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia in combatting the financing of terrorism".

In a post on Twitter, the State Department's Bureau of Counterterrorism said Safieddine's designation marked the "first ever" joint designation by the State Department and another country.

The US considers Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese militia which is currently fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, to be a terrorist organisation.

"Hashem Safieddine is a senior leader in Hizballah, a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and SDGT [Specially Designated Global Terrorist] entity supported by Iran," the State Department said in a statement.

"Safieddine is a key member of Hizballah’s executive council, which oversees Hizballah’s political, organizational, social, and educational activities. Hizballah is responsible for such terrorist attacks as the suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut in 1984, and the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847."

In the same statement, the State Department also designated Muhammad al-Isawi, also known as Abu Usama al-Masri, who it said had taken over the leadership of IS's Sinai affiliate peninsula - formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis - in August 2016.