Sanctioning Terror: The U.S. Crackdown on Green Without Borders

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Last year, in an effort to counter terrorism, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated and imposed sanctions on Lebanon-based Green Without Borders and its leader. Green Without Borders is a Lebanon-located association that has delivered support to and shield for Hizballah’s operations in southern Lebanon along the “Blue Line” between Lebanon and Israel over the last decade while publicly working under the guise of environmental activism. 

Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson has contended that “The United States contradicts Hizballah’s cynical actions to cloak its destabilizing terrorist activities with false environmentalism. We will continue supporting the many Lebanese civil society groups protecting Lebanon’s unique and sensitive natural environment while relentlessly pursuing Hizballah and their support networks.”  

Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is designating Green Without Borders and its leader, Zuhair Subhi Nahla, according to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, which points out terrorists, terrorist corps, leaders, and officials of terrorist parties, and those delivering support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.

Green Without Borders was founded in 2013 with the ostensible objective of protecting Lebanon’s natural environment, including reforestation movements. It has served as a shelter for Hizballah’s activities in southern Lebanon along the Blue Line, where GWB has outposts manned by Hizballah detectives in more than a dozen locations. These outposts, manned by Hizballah operatives, cover Hizballah’s secretive warehouses and munitions storage tunnels. These installations have prevented United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon peacekeepers from fulfilling their UN Security Council mandate to scrutinize the implementation of UNSC Resolution and have stopped oversight of these outposts. 

Under the guise of GWB outposts, Hizballah members perform weapons training at firing ranges, patrol the surrounding region, and preserve containerized housing units 25 meters from the Blue Line. Alleged encroachment on a confidential property by GWB and Hizballah and propagandizing by GWB have also pushed well-documented clashes with locals.

Since 2013, GWB has utilized resources to support Hizballah training at GWB outposts. It has also publicly partnered with Hizballah’s building arm, Jihad al-Bina, which was designated by OFAC in 2007. The association between GWB and Hizballah is widely documented in the media, including by official Hizballah media outlets. GWB is designated for materially helping, sponsoring, or delivering financial, material, or technological help for, or goods or services to or in support of, Hizballah.

Zuhair Subhi Nahla (Nahla) is the head of GWB. Nahla has conveyed GWB’s tree planting activities as delivering a wall to protect Hizballah, emphasizing its strategic importance for Hizballah’s security. Although Nahla argues that he and GWB are not part of Hizballah, he has publicly admitted his and GWB’s affiliation with the terrorist group. Nahla is also designated for being a boss or official of GWB, a person whose possessions and interests in property are blocked. 

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