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US Sanctions Alleged Hezbollah Supporters in West Africa

The United States has imposed sanctions on four Lebanese citizens it accuses of aiding efforts by militant group Hezbollah to expand into West Africa.

The U.S. Treasury Department said the four men have helped Hezbollah with fundraising and recruiting in the region and in in some instances, have acted as representatives for the Shi'ite extremist group, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.

The U.S. said the men targeted in the sanctions have helped Hezbollah expand its reach in Sierra Leone, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Gambia respectively.

The sanctions designation freezes any assets the four citizens have in U.S. territories and bans Americans from conducting business with them.

In a Tuesday statement, the Treasury Department said the designations expose the "alarming reach" of Hezbollah's activities and its efforts to create a "worldwide funding recruitment network to support its violence and criminal enterprises."

Hezbollah was founded in Lebanon in the early 1980s and has traditionally received heavy support from Iran.

David Cohen, the U.S. undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the moves against individuals are important as Iran is squeezed by sanctions over its nuclear program.
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