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Treasury Designates Individuals Furthering Syrian Regime’s Efforts to Undermine Lebanese Democracy

November 5, 2007

The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated four individuals affiliated with the Syrian regime’s efforts to reassert Syrian control over the Lebanese political system.

“Syria has used all means at its disposal – from bribery to intimidation to violence – to undermine the legitimate political process in Lebanon,” said Stuart Levey, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.  “Today’s action exposes four individuals involved in such activities and serves as a warning to others who would do likewise.”

Syrian troops formally withdrew from Lebanon in April 2005 after a 29-year military presence. The Syrian regime is working through Lebanese proxies to exert control over the Lebanese political system; to weaken the majority pro-government March 14 Coalition; and to undermine Lebanese sovereignty and security.  The regime has used a range of tools to further these objectives, including bribing politicians, intimidation, interference in the selection of a new president, support for violence, and providing arms to militias and terrorist groups.  The four individuals designated today have worked to undermine Lebanese sovereignty and support the Syrian regime’s efforts to interfere in Lebanon’s internal affairs.

Syrian intelligence has assisted Hizballah and other oppositionists in Lebanon to orchestrate protests and demonstrations demanding the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's cabinet, which it deems illegitimate.  The protests began in December 2006 in Beirut and continue today.  Additionally, the Syrian regime has provided arms to illicit Lebanese militias and Palestinian terrorist groups.  In addition, the Syrian regime is believed to be intimidating Lebanese who call for the establishment of an international tribunal to try the killers of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. 

Assaad Halim Hardan, Wi’am Wahhab and Hafiz Makhluf were designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13441, signed by President George W. Bush on August 1, 2007.  E.O. 13441 blocks the property of persons undermining the sovereignty of Lebanon or its democratic processes and institutions.

Muhammad Nasif Khayrbik was designated pursuant to E.O. 13338, which is aimed at individuals and entities contributing to the Government of Syria's problematic behavior.  President Bush signed E.O. 13338 on May 11, 2004 in response to the Syrian government's continued support of international terrorism, sustained occupation of Lebanon, pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining of U.S. and international efforts in Iraq.

Today's designations freeze any assets the designees may have located in the United States, and prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with these individuals.

Identifying Information

Assaad Halim Hardan
AKAs:   Assad Hardan
As'ad Hardan
DOB:    July 31, 1951
POB:    Rashayya al-Fakhar, Lebanon
Profession:   Member of Parliament, Lebanon
Political Affiliation:  Chief of the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party (SSNP) Central
Political Bureau

Assaad Hardan is a senior official in the SSNP.  During 2007, the SSNP received arms and military training from Syria and Hizballah.  Hardan works with senior Syrian officials to significantly influence Lebanese politics in furtherance of Syria's efforts to undermine Lebanese sovereignty.

Wi'am Wahhab
AKAs:   Wi'am Wihab
Wiam Wahhab
Wiyam Wihab
Wiyam Wahab
DOB:    1964
POB:    Al-Jahiliya, Shouf Mountains, Lebanon

Wi'am Wahhab, a former member of the Lebanese Parliament, works with senior Syrian officials to significantly influence Lebanese politics in furtherance of Syria's efforts to undermine Lebanese sovereignty.

Hafiz Makhluf
AKA: Hafez Makhlouf
Position: General Intelligence Directorate senior official
Military Rank: Colonel
DOB: Circa 1975
POB: Damascus, Syria

Colonel Hafiz Makhluf, a senior official in the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, has supported the reassertion of Syrian control or otherwise contributed to Syrian interference in Lebanon.
Makhluf is a maternal cousin to Syrian President Bashar al-Asad. He is also the brother of Rami Makhluf, Syria’s leading businessman, who has been the subject of persistent allegations of corruption and cronyism.

Muhammad Nasif Khayrbik
AKAs:   Muhammad Nasif Khayr-Bayk
Mohammed Nassif Khairbek
Mohammad Nasif Kheirbek
Address:   Damascus, Syria
Position:   Deputy Vice President for Security Affairs
Military Rank:  Major General
DOB:    April 5, 1937

As of early 2007, Khayrbik was one of several key advisors to Syrian President Bashar al-Asad. In early 2006, Khayrbik was named Deputy Vice President for Security Affairs.  In this position, Khayrbik has played a central role in Syria's continuing policy of destabilizing Lebanon and Syria's relationship with known designated terrorist organizations, including Hizballah.  In early 2006, Khayrbik coordinated Syrian and Hizballah positions during regular meetings with Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of the Lebanese Hizballah.

Khayrbik has long served the Syrian regime, having served as a close advisor to former President Hafiz al-Asad.  In mid-1999, President Hafiz al-Asad appointed Khayrbik as the deputy director of the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate (GID), a position he served in until February 2006.