Tags: Hezbollah | terrorism | FARC

Testimony: Hezbollah, Latin American Criminal Networks Form 'Unholy Alliance'

By    |   Wednesday, 05 Feb 2014 11:16 PM

Experts told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee Tuesday that the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah has established criminal networks in Latin America which provide millions of dollars each year for its global activities, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Witnesses  told the panel’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade that Hezbollah participates in those networks, which engage in counterfeiting, money laundering and drug trafficking in collaboration with locals like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist-Leninist group.

“These types of illicit actors, terror providers, and criminals, a lot of them are offering and brokering services but may not espouse the ideological fervor that other groups have,” testified Celina Realuyo, an assistant professor of national security affairs at the National Defense University. “But they’re offering a lot of special services — a terror pipeline — where you see this very unholy alliance between terror groups and criminal groups who have a win-win.”

Realuyo pointed to several recent cases to illustrate the connection between Hezbollah and criminal groups in Latin America.

One was Operation Titan, a joint U.S.-Colombian investigation that uncovered an international  cocaine trafficking operation stretching from Hong Kong to Panama. A Lebanese trafficker based  in Colombia contributed approximately 12 percent of trafficking ring profits to Hezbollah, she said.

Another involved Ayman Joumaa, a Lebanese drug kingpin who has been indicted for allegedly shipping tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the United States from Colombia, Realuyo said.  The drugs were provided to the Zetas cartel in Mexico, with traffickers allegedly laundering more than $850 million using front companies like the Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB).  

The Beirut–based LCB agreed last year to pay more than $100 million to settle a legal case filed by U.S. prosecutors who claimed the bank was used to launder money and raise funds for Hezbollah, Reuters reported.

The witnesses’ testimony on Tuesday appeared to contradict a State Department report on the subject issued last year. That report, which appeared to downplay the threats posed by Hezbollah and Iran in Latin America, was sharply criticized by some lawmakers and terrorism experts, the Free Beacon reported at the time.

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Experts told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee Tuesday that the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah has established criminal networks in Latin America which provide millions of dollars each year for its global activities, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Hezbollah,terrorism,FARC
373
2014-16-05
Wednesday, 05 Feb 2014 11:16 PM
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