U.S. doesn’t want post-war reconstruction: Hezbollah
Wed, 21 Feb 2007 15:39:38 GMT
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Hezbollah said on Wednesday the United States is trying to stop the reconstruction of Lebanese areas damaged in last year’s war with Israel by branding a building firm operated by the group as a terrorist organization.
The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday accused Jihad al-Bina of bolstering the Shi’ite militant group’s public standing by rebuilding war-torn areas.
“I consider that this American decision condemns America and not Jihad al-Bina because it is targeting an institution that is concerned with civic development and construction,” said Hussein Rahhal, head of Hezbollah’s media unit.
“Therefore America is obviously targeting the prohibition of construction in south Beirut and Lebanon.”
The Treasury said Jihad al-Bina receives funding from Iran, is run by Hezbollah members and is overseen by Hezbollah’s governing Shura Council.
Rahhal said it was an independent body and when asked whether Iran funds the firm, he said: “Jihad al-Bina receives funding from donators in Lebanon and outside of Lebanon … Iran is not the issue.”
In November, Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah reportedly said his group had so far spent $300 million in cash aid to those who lost their homes in the war, in which about 15,000 homes were destroyed. He said the money came from Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Large districts of the Hezbollah stronghold southern suburbs in Beirut and several towns and villages in south Lebanon were destroyed in the July-August war.
Jihad al-Bina has been involved in debris clearance and reconstruction efforts in those areas.
The Treasury said these services were bolstering the standing of Hezbollah, which the U.S. government has designated a terrorist organization since 1995.
The action by the Treasury also bans Americans from doing business with Jihad al-Bina and freezes any assets it may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
The firm’s Web site, www.jihadbinaa2006.org, calls on individuals and institutions to provide volunteers, apartments or donations to “support the resistance and the steadfastness of the heroic Lebanese people and continuing the victory by removing remnants of the American Zionist aggression.”
It has an image of Nasrallah and of bombed buildings.