Washington Warns of Attempts to Finance Terrorism via Lebanon’s Banks
Naharnet 18.03.05U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing Daniel Glaser reportedly warned during a short visit to Beirut from attempts to involve Lebanese banks in money laundering operations to finance terrorism. According to al-Akhbar newspaper published on Wednesday, Glaser, who met with Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh and a delegation from the Lebanese Association of Banks, said that funds to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from some Gulf countries could pass through Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. He pointed out that “banks in Lebanon could be used to reach the global banking sector,” sources told al-Akhbar newspaper. The U.S. official also discussed measures that would reduce the flow of illicit money, which could be used to fund terrorist organizations and operations. For his part, head of the Association of Banks in Lebanon Francois Bassil stressed Lebanon’s keenness to combat money laundering and the funding of terrorism. Glaser, according to a statement issued by the U.S. embassy in Beirut on Tuesday, encouraged Lebanese authorities and financial institutions to continue their work to combat the threat of illicit financing and prevent attempts to evade U.S. and international financial sanctions from Iran and Syria, in particular. He also met with Prime Minister Tammam Salam, Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil, Minister of Foreign Affairs Jebran Bassil and Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq. He reiterated the U.S. commitment to work with Lebanon to continue protecting Lebanon’s financial system from abuse by terrorism threats.
March 14 Describes Verbal Assaults as ‘Direct Threats’
Naharnet/18.03.05The March 14 General Secretariat considered on Wednesday the verbal attacks against the March 14 figures who marked the coalition’s 10th anniversary over the weekend as a a direct threat against them. “The alliance’s decision to establish its National Council is the result of 10 years of struggle, sacrifices and principles,” the secretariat said in a statement after its weekly meeting. Tension between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal movement soared over the weekend when several Hizbullah officials criticized the March 14 alliance after the coalition strongly criticized what they called “the role of Iran and its proxies, topped by Hizbullah.”d the party of implicating Lebanon in regional conflicts and seeking to prolong the presidential vacuum. Concerning the expulsion of Lebanese from the United Arab Emirates, the secretariat called on Hizbullah to assume its responsibilities and respect the legitimacy of all countries in order to safeguard the interests of the Lebanese abroad. UAE’s decision to deport Lebanese expats from the Gulf country is reportedly related to their staunch support to Hizbullah and its allies. On Sunday, several Lebanese deported from UAE arrived in Beirut for the second day in a row.
Most of the expats have been residing in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman. The move was reportedly in retaliation to a speech by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah which contained a strong attack against countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council. On the ongoing presidential crisis, the March 14 statement urged the political arch-foes to elect a new head of state and “stop wasting chances.” The statement continued: “Lebanon is bigger than us all and its interests are far more important than the narrow interests of political leaders.”MPs failed for the 20th time last week to elect a new head of state over lack of quorum. President Michel Suleiman’s term ended in May without the election of a successor. Hizbullah and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc have been boycotting electoral sessions due to a disagreement with the March 14 camp over a compromise presidential candidate.