Hamas Says Deputy Leader Will Remain in Position After U.S. Offers Up to $5m for Info

The State Department also designated the son of Hezbollah's leader a terrorist and blacklisted Al-Mujahidin Brigades, which it said had links to Hezbollah and had plotted a number of attacks against Israeli targets

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Screenshot of U.S. State Department announcement of the bounty placed on Hamas and Hezbollah leaders, November 13, 2018.
Screenshot of U.S. State Department announcement of the bounty placed on Hamas and Hezbollah leaders, November 13, 2018.Credit: State Department Twitter/Screenshot

The U.S. State Department announced on Tuesday a $5 million prize for any information about a senior Hamas leader believed to be living in Lebanon at the moment in addition to two leaders of Lebanon's Hezbollah. It also designated the son of Hezbollah's leader a terrorist.

The department said it would pay any person for information leading to the exact location of Saleh al-Aruri, the deputy political leader of Hamas. Aruri was involved in terror attacks against Israelis over the years, including the murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank that contributed to the outbreak of the 2014 Israel-Hamas war.

Hamas said in response that al-Aruri will remain in his position, which is "his national obligation." 

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The State Department said that al-Aruri “raised funds for and directed Hamas military operations in West Bank and has been linked to several terrorist attacks, hijackings, and kidnappings.” Al-Aruri was among the Palestinian prisoners Israel released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap in 2011.  

The department also said it was offering up to $5 million each for information leading to the locations of Lebanese Hezbollah leaders Khalil Yusif Mahmoud Harb and Haytham Ali Tabatabaei under the agency's so-called Rewards for Justice Program.

In addition, the State Department designated Jawad Nasrallah, son of Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, a terrorist and accused him of carrying out attacks against Israel in the West Bank

The department also blacklisted Al-Mujahidin Brigades, or AMB, which it said had links to Hezbollah and had plotted a number of attacks against Israeli targets. 

The Department said that it was urging anyone with information that would assist locating the wanted persons to contact it through the website rewardsforjustice.net or by contacting a U.S. embassy near them.

Saleh al-Aruri, a senior leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in the West Bank town of Ramallah, March 11, 2007.Credit: AFP

"Today's designations seek to deny Nasrallah and AMB the resources to plan and carry out terrorist attacks," the State Department said in a statement. It said the actions denied Nasrallah and AMB access to the U.S. financial system. 

The department said both Hamas and Hezbollah receive weapons, training and funding from Iran. Washington recently reimposed sanctions against Tehran after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from a 2015 nuclear deal

Hamas harshly condemned the State Department’s decision to put a price on al-Aruri’s head. According to Hamas, the decision constitutes surrender to the Israeli government's pressure and "a condolence prize for its defeat." 

Hamas also condemned the department's decision to include Harb and Tabatabaei on its list and called on the Arab League, on the Organization for Islamic Cooperation and "on all free people" to reject the American decision.

Earlier on Tuesday, Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri blamed Iran-backed Hezbollah for what he called "a big obstacle" in efforts to form a new government. 

Hezbollah, a heavily armed Shi'ite Muslim group, has been pressing a demand for one of six Sunni Muslim lawmakers allied to it to get a cabinet position. Hariri has refused to give up one of the seats allocated for his mainly Sunni party. 

Earlier on Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on four people linked to Lebanon's Hezbollah who coordinate the Iran-backed group's activities in Iraq and designated the son of the group's leader as a global terrorist. 

The U.S. Treasury added Shibl Muhsin Ubayd al-Zaydi, Yusuf Hashim, Adnan Hussein Kawtharani and Muhammad Abd-al-Hadi Farhat to its Specially Designated Global Terrorists list. Al-Zaydi is Iraqi and the others are Lebanese

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