US appeals for information on two Lebanese men accused of financing Hezbollah

Guinea-based Ibrahim Taher and Ali Saade said to have given material support to the Lebanese political party and armed group

Hezbollah supporters on the third anniversary of the US killing of Iranian Maj Gen Qassem Suleimani. AFP
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The US has reissued an appeal for information on two Lebanese businessmen based in Guinea who are accused of being financiers for Hezbollah.

The Rewards for Justice programme said it is offering up to $10 million for information that “leads to the disruption of the financial mechanisms” of Hezbollah, the powerful Iran-backed Lebanese political party and armed group.

Ibrahim Taher was described as “one of the most prominent financial supporters of Hezbollah in Guinea” and was said to have had employees linked to the group.

It is claimed that he used his role as Honorary Consul of Lebanon to the Ivory Coast to evade scrutiny while travelling in and out of Guinea.

“Taher and an associate sent US dollars collected at one of their commercial facilities to Conakry airport and bribed Guinean customs officials to allow their currency to pass in luggage,” the US said.

In 2020, the US said he flew with alleged Hezbollah financier Ali Saade from Guinea to Lebanon on a special flight with a significant amount of money that they claimed was supposed to support Covid-19 relief efforts in Lebanon.

“Covid-19 relief has been previously used as a cover for transferring funds from Guinea to Lebanon for Hezbollah,” the US said.

Both Mr Taher and Mr Saade were put under sanctions by Washington last March for material assistance to Hezbollah, which the US has proscribed as a terrorist organisation in its entirety.

Hezbollah, which holds significant sway in many parts of Lebanon, often engages in conflict with Israel.

Neighbours Israel and Lebanon are technically in a state of war, although they did agree a landmark maritime deal last year.

Mr Saade is suspected of initiating financial transfers from Guinea to Hezbollah via representatives of the group. He is also accused of using fishing vessels for illegal activity, including drug trafficking.

Mr Taher was born in Jwaya, southern Lebanon, in 1963. Mr Saade was born in Guinea in 1942.

Updated: January 10, 2023, 8:47 AM
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