Ali Ibrahim al-Watfa

Ali Ibrahim al-Watfa is a senior member of Hezbollah and the group’s permanent liaison to Sierra Leone.“Treasury Sanctions Hizballah Operatives in West Africa,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, June 11, 2013, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl1980.aspx. The U.S. accuses him of aiding a Hezbollah fundraising cell in Freetown, Sierra Leone.“Treasury Sanctions Hizballah Operatives in West Africa,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, June 11, 2013, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl1980.aspx. Al-Watfa reportedly coordinates fundraising through Hezbollah’s Foreign Relations Department.“Treasury Sanctions Hizballah Operatives in West Africa,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, June 11, 2013, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl1980.aspx. The U.S. called al-Watfa and three other Lebanese nationals in West Africa “ambassadors” for Hezbollah responsible for raising millions of dollars for the group.“Treasury Sanctions Hizballah Operatives in West Africa,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, June 11, 2013, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl1980.aspx. Al-Watfa denied the charges, calling them “a big surprise” and suggesting he had been set up.David Lewis, “Insight: U.S. and allies target Hezbollah financing, ties in Africa,” Reuters, September 20, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/20/us-syria-crisis-hezbollah-africa-insight-idUSBRE98J04L20130920.

West Africa has become an important region for Hezbollah in recent years as financial sanctions on Iran have diminished the country’s financial support of Hezbollah.David Lewis, “Insight: U.S. and allies target Hezbollah financing, ties in Africa,” Reuters, September 20, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/20/us-syria-crisis-hezbollah-africa-insight-idUSBRE98J04L20130920. Hezbollah has been involved in Sierra Leone’s illicit diamond trade for years, according to Hezbollah expert Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.Matthew Levitt, “Hezbollah Finances: Funding the Party of God,” Washington Institute for Near East Peace, February 2005, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/hezbollah-finances-funding-the-party-of-god.

United States
June 11, 2013

The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated “Ali Ibrahim Al-Watfa” as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on June 11, 2013.“Treasury Sanctions Hizballah Operatives in West Africa,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, June 11, 2013, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl1980.aspx.

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