Lebanese Hezbollah’s Muhammad Kawtharani “has taken over some of the political coordination of Iran-aligned paramilitary groups formerly organized by Qassem Soleimani.”
The United States has offered a reward of $10 million for information on Muhammad Kawtharani, the top commander of the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group, which now is operating also in Iraq.
The Iraq-based Hezbollah operative Kawtharani is widely regarded as the partial replacement of Qassim Sulemani, the chief of Iran’s foreign terrorist wing Al Quds Force, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike three months ago. Hezbollah’s terror chief in Iraq “has taken over some of the political coordination of Iran-aligned paramilitary groups formerly organized by Qassem Soleimani,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement on Friday.
Since Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei declared jihad on America after the killing of Sulemani in early January, Kawtharanie has been at the forefront of the terror campaign aimed at the U.S. and allied troops stationed in Iraq. Kawtharanie-led Hezbollah and its terrorist allies have staged a series of deadly attacks on U.S. military bases and diplomatic compounds, including rockets attacks at the fortified Baghdad Green Zone.
The State Department publicized the rewards in a statement on Friday:
The U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information on the activities, networks, and associates of Muhammad Kawtharani, a senior Hizballah military commander. This announcement is part of the Department’s standing reward offer for information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of the terrorist organization Lebanese Hizballah.
Muhammad Kawtharani is a senior leader of Hizballah’s forces in Iraq and has taken over some of the political coordination of Iran-aligned paramilitary groups formerly organized by Qassim Sulemani after Sulemani’s death in January. In this capacity, he facilitates the actions of groups operating outside the control of the Government of Iraq that have violently suppressed protests, attacked foreign diplomatic missions, and engaged in wide-spread organized criminal activity. As a member of Hizballah’s Political Council, Kawtharani has worked to promote Hizballah’s interests in Iraq, including Hizballah efforts to provide training, funding, political, and logistical support to Iraqi Shi’a insurgent groups.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Kawtharani as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2013.
Kawtharani, as a close confidant of Sulemani, has been on the U.S. counter-terrorism blacklist since 2013 for his role in funding, arming, and training pro-Iranian terrorist groups inside Iraq. By putting a reward on Kawtharani’s whereabouts, the Trump administration is fulfilling its promise of going after anyone who tries to step into the shoes of Sulemani, an Iranian terror operative directly responsible for the killing of hundreds of U.S. military personnel serving in Iraq.
The State Department’s move is also part of President Donald Trump’s policy of ‘maximum pressure’ on the Iranian regime and its proxy terrorist organizations in the Middle East. The Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist group had carried out numerous acts of international terrorism on behalf of Iran since its creation 35 years ago.
If Iran rightly holds the title of the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, Hezbollah happens to be its biggest recipient. The Lebanese terrorist group received billions of dollars from Tehran in the wake of the Obama-Kerry nuclear deal in 2015. Since President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement two years, his administration reinstated sanctions on Tehran, crippling the regime’s ability to finance its international terrorist network.
In its war on radical Islamic terrorism, Washington is targeting the Iran-Hezbollah nexus. “This Administration will expose and disrupt Hizballah and Iranian terror networks at every turn,” the U.S. Treasury Department declared in 2018 while imposing the wide-ranging sanctions of the terrorist group.
Iran-backed terrorist groups target U.S. troops in Iraq (March 15)
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