Bush Administration Tries to Freeze U.S. Assets for Lebanese Group

The Bush administration took steps Tuesday to financially isolate a Lebanese organization for allegedly funneling money to Hezbollah to bankroll terrorist acts.

The Treasury Department's action, which covers the Islamic Resistance Support Organization, or IRSO, means any of the group's assets found in the United States must be frozen. Americans also are prohibited from giving money to the group.

Hezbollah uses the organization to solicit donations to support terrorist activities, the department alleged. The group solicits funds for Hezbollah through advertisements aired on Hezbollah's al-Manar TV, which was put on the government's asset-blocking list earlier this year, the department said in a statement.

"Solicitation materials distributed by IRSO inform prospective donors that funds will be used to purchase sophisticated weapons and conduct operations," Treasury said. "Indeed, donors can choose from a series of projects to contribute to, including, supporting and equipping fighters and purchasing rockets and ammunition."

The United States calls Lebanon-based Hezbollah a terrorist group that is suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks worldwide.

The U.S. also blamed Hezbollah for triggering recent bloodshed in the Middle East involving Lebanon, Israel and the terrorist organization.

Stuart Levey, the department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the Islamic group "makes no attempt to hide its true colors."

Its "fundraising materials present donors with the option of sending funds to equip Hezbollah fighters or to purchase rockets that Hezbollah uses to target civilian populations," Levey said.