WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has determined that the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah is seeking to carry out attacks against the United States and has thus offered millions of dollars for whoever can help it apprehend two of its leaders.
“It is our assessment that Hezbollah is determined to give itself a potential homeland option as a critical component of its terrorism playbook,” said Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, during a briefing Tuesday.
Rasmussen went on to say that the US government was seeking help arresting Talal Hamiyeh and Fu’ad Shukr, and would pay $7 million and $5 million rewards for the two officials, respectively.
It is the first time in a decade that the US is offering rewards for Hezballah operatives under its counterterrorism rewards program.
Hamiyeh is the head of Hezbollah’s External Security Organization. The State Department has said that wing has terrorist cells worldwide and is responsible for orchestrating and executive terror attacks outside of Lebanon, mostly against Americans and Israelis.
Shakr is a leading Hezbollah operative and top adviser to Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary general. He helped launch and plan the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings that killed 241 US and 58 French peacekeepers and six civilians.
Rasmussen’s announcement came after Thomas Bossert, one of US President Donald Trump’s top aides on homeland security and counterterrorism, published an op-ed in the French daily Le Monde scolding the international community for not doing enough to combat Hezbollah.
He also cited Tehran’s support for the terror group and its continuing destabilizing activities — just as Trump is expected to decertify the Iran nuclear deal this week.
“The Trump administration will also continue to lead the effort to isolate Hezballah’s benefactor — Iran,” he wrote. “The Iranian regime does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors or the dignity of its people. Iran takes oil profits—resources that should benefit the Iranian people—and uses them to fund Hizballah and other terrorist organizations.
“The regime employs Hezballah as a surrogate to violate the sovereignty of nations across the greater Middle East,” Bossert continued. “The United States condemns Iran’s destabilizing actions and calls on all nations to stand against this murderous dictatorship in Tehran and its junior partner Hezbollah.”
Last week, the Senate adopted an amendment that seeks to disrupt the flow of Hezbollah’s resources, including foreign individuals, companies and governmental agencies that assist the group’s fundraising and recruitment efforts.