One strike and you're out

A donation of just over US $650 to an Islamic charity was enough for the US State Department to ban the Lebanese finance minister from entering the United States.

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By  John Irish Published  June 17, 2003

US authorities have banned Lebanese finance minister Fuad Siniora from entering America after he admitted donating one million Lebanese lira (approximately US$ 663) in 2000 to an Islamic charity linked to Hizbullah.

Despite being part of the Lebanese political system, the United States considers Hizbullah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, as a ‘terrorist organisation.’

In a statement to AFP, Siniora’s office confirmed that the US Ambassador in Beirut had informed the minister of the decision.

The donation was made to a Beirut-based Islamic charity, al-Mubarat al-Kheiriya, which is linked to Hizbullah’s spiritual leader Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah. According to the statement, the donation occurred during the month of Ramadan and was part of the minister’s religious duty to offer alms.

Siniora’s name will now be added to the US State Department’s exclusion list, which includes charities and companies accused of financing terrorist activities.

As a result of the ban, Minister of Economy, Marwan Hamadeh will now attend future World Bank and IMF meetings held in Washington.

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