US sanctions Hizbollah businessman with ties to Iraq

Ahmad Jalal Reda Abdallah worked to import pharmaceutical drugs from Lebanon, fraudulently represent them, and sell them in the Iraqi market.
The US Treasury said that businessman Ahmad Jalal Reda Abdallah has been an financier of Hezbollah (Photo: Getty Images).
The US Treasury said that businessman Ahmad Jalal Reda Abdallah has been an financier of Hezbollah (Photo: Getty Images).

WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan24) – The US Treasury Department announced sanctions on a Lebanese businessman, Ahmad Jalal Reda Abdallah, who has ties with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Lebanese Hizbollah, and whose businesses also operate in Iraq. 

Five other individuals were sanctioned along with Abdallah, as well as eight of his companies. Of the companies, the Treasury Department said in a written statement issued on Thursday that “many are located in Iraq and benefit Hizbollah.”

The report also noted that one of the other sanctioned individuals— Ali Reda Abdallah, an older brother—is so closely tied to Hizbollah that he was expelled from Sweden in the 1990s for terrorist-related activity. Ahmad and Ali Reda worked together to import pharmaceutical drugs from Lebanon, fraudulently represent them, and sell them in the Iraqi market.

Focus of Sanctions: Ahmad Abdallah

Ahmad Abdallah is a 55-year-old, Beirut-born businessman and “a Hizbollah official and an active member of Hizbollah’s global financial network,” the Treasury statement explained.

Abdallah “has supported Hizbollah for decades, carrying out extensive commercial activities in various countries, where the profits are transferred to Hizbollah,” it continued. 

Abdallah coordinates with two other Lebanese businessmen associated with Hizbollah, Muhammad Qasur and Muhammad Qasim al-Bazzal, both of whom were similarly sanctioned in 2020. 

At the time, the State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program stated that it has a standing reward offer of up to $10 million “for information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of the global terrorist organization Lebanese Hizballah.”

Presumably, that reward would also apply to information that leads to the disruption of Abdallah’s activities and that of the other individuals named on Thursday.

Brother expelled from Sweden for Hizbollah Activity, Misrepresents Drugs They Sell in Iraq

Of the five other individuals sanctioned on Thursday, three are relatives of Abdallah. Most notable is an older brother, the 60-year-old Ali Reda, who was “expelled from Sweden in the 1990s,” as the Treasury statement explains, because “of his activities on behalf of Hizbollah and for plotting an attack on the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm.”

Ali Reda is Lebanese, but he also holds an Iraqi passport and is active commercially in Iraq. In March 2020, Ali Reda and his younger brother bought a bottling plant in Iraq. “The purchase was viewed as part of an effort by Hizbollah to open intelligence and commercial fronts in Iraq for investment projects, which could then become fronts for IRGC and Hizbollah,” the Treasury Department stated. 

The Treasury statement also described illegal activities—potentially quite harmful to the people of Iraq—on the part of the two brothers.

Local Iraqi law enforcement raided one of their businesses, and “Ahmad Abdallah was caught altering labels on medications brought in from Lebanon and sold on the black market to pharmacies,” it said. 

Abdallah’s 26-year-old son, Hussein Ahmed Jalal Abdallah, was also sanctioned on Thursday. Hussein “helped coordinate business logistics for his father,” according to the Treasury Department, and the senior Abdallah “delegated authority” to his son “for a project that was tied to Hizbollah.”

Another brother is the third of Abdullah’s relatives sanctioned on Thursday: Hussein Reda, 57 years old. He works with Abdallah in the businesses that his younger brother runs.

The other two individuals sanctioned on Thursday are employees of Abdallah’s companies. Hussein Kamel Attia, 57 years old, is also Lebanese and a senior manager at United General Holding SAL, located in west Beirut.

Joseph Ilya Haidamous, another Lebanese national, helped Abdallah “establish new businesses throughout the Middle East on behalf of Hizbollah,” the Treasury Department said.

Haidamous is the Chief Financial Officer for United General Holding. He “served as an intermediary between prominent Hizbollah officials and Ahmed Abdallah and was responsible for providing financial reports to those same officials,” the Treasury statement explained.

Sanctioned Companies include Iraqi Media Company, Food Company

In addition to United General Holding, an advertising company operating in Iraq was also sanctioned: Focus Media Company SAL Offshore. That company “is one of many business ventures in Iraq that Ahmad Abdallah is involved in on behalf of Hizbollah,” the Treasury statement clarified.  

A food company, Al Moukhtar Products, was also sanctioned. Based in Lebanon, Al Moukhtar is “engaged in the import and export of food products from Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq,” the Treasury statement said.

“Ahmad Abdallah was interested in food companies because the food sector appeared to be less likely targets of sanctions,” it observed.

The five other companies sanctioned on Thursday are all related to the three companies cited above. 

United General Offshore SAL is a subsidiary of United General Holding and operates in Iraq. Four other subsidiaries were also sanctioned: United General Services SARL, United General Contracting Company SARL, Focus Company SARL, and United International Exhibition Company SARL.