Washington will pay $12 million in rewards for the capture of Talal Hamiyah and Fuad Shukr, two senior officials of the Lebanese group Hezbollah.
The United States on Tuesday offered multimillion-dollar rewards for two officials of the Lebanese group Hezbollah as the Trump administration prepared to unveil a strategy to counter Iran's perceived regional influence.
Washington will pay up to $7 million for information leading to the arrest of Talal Hamiyah, head of Hezbollah's foreign operations, and up to $5 million for Fuad Shukr, a top Hezbollah military operative, the State Department said.
The rewards are the first offered by the US for Hezbollah operatives in a decade, Nathan Sales, the US counterterrorism coordinator, told reporters.
"Today's rewards are another step to increase the pressure on them and their organization," said Sales.
Other extremists for whom the United States is offering rewards include Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the head of Daesh, and Mohammad Jolani, the commander of Al Qaeda's Syrian branch.
Hamiyah has been on the department's foreign terrorist list since 2015 and Shukr was added in 2013. The United States named Hezbollah as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997.
"A threat to homeland"
Nicholas Rasmussen, the head of the National CounterTerrorism Center, blamed the group for a litany of attacks around the world, and said it maintains a presence in "nearly every corner of the globe."
Pointing to the arrests of two men in the US in June for alleged activities on Hezbollah's behalf, Rasmussen said that US intelligence agencies assess that the group is seeking an ability to strike inside "the homeland."
Sales signaled that as part of US President Donald Trump's soon-to-be unveiled Iran strategy, Washington would press countries that have yet to designate Hezbollah as an international terrorist group to do so.
"Additionally, some countries have chosen to designate only Hezbollah’s military wing, leaving its so-called political wing untouched," he said, apparently referring to the 28-member European Union.
"But that is a false distinction. Make no mistake. Hezbollah has no political wing. It is a single organization, a terrorist organization, and it is rotten to its core."
Designating the group as a terrorist organization is "not merely symbolic," he continued.
By not doing so, he said, countries "limit other governments' ability to freeze Hezbollah’s assets, to shut down its front companies, to eliminate its fund-raising and recruiting capabilities and to prosecute Hezbollah associated networks. The United States will need allies in this fight.