190209 hezbollah
Hezbollah. Image Credit: Reuters

Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia has designated Al Qard Al Hassan association as a terrorist organization, citing links to activities supporting Lebanon’s Shi’ite group Hezbollah, state news agency SPA reported on Wednesday.

The State Security also froze all of the entity’s assets inside the Kingdom and prohibited any direct or indirect transactions with it by financial institutions, businesses and people.

“Al Qard Al Hassan is linked to activities supporting Hezbollah’s terrorist organisation, as it works to manage Hezbollah’s finances and its funding, including supporting its military purposes,” the statement said.

The US has designated Al Qard Al Hassan finance firm in Beirut as a terrorist organisation in 2007 for providing financial support to Hezbollah.

According to the US Treasury, Al Qard Al Hassan masquerades as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) under the cover of a Ministry of Interior-granted NGO license, providing services characteristic of a bank in support of Hezbollah while evading proper licensing and regulatory supervision.

“By hoarding hard currency that is desperately needed by the Lebanese economy, the entity allows Hezbollah to build its own support base and compromise the stability of the Lebanese state. It has taken on a more prominent role in Hezbollah’s financial infrastructure over the years, and designated Hezbollah-linked entities and individuals have evaded sanctions and maintained bank accounts by re-registering them in the names of senior AQAH officials,” the US Treasury said.

In May, the United States had called on governments worldwide to take action against Lebanon’s Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah. The US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on seven Lebanese nationals it said were connected to the group and its financial firm, Al Qard Al Hassan.

Saudi Arabia has shunned Lebanon for years because of Hezbollah’s strong influence in its affairs, which it also says has sent fighters to Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition fights another Iran-aligned group, the Houthi movement.