Lebanon Is Protecting Hizballah’s Cocaine Trade in Latin America

June 22 2018

To finance its activities, Hizballah conducts lucrative cocaine and money-laundering operations in Latin America, based primarily in the area known as the Triple Frontier, where the borders of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina meet. Lebanon, where the Iran-backed terrorist group is headquartered, has consistently provided shelter to these activities, as Emanuele Ottolenghi explains:

U.S. policy toward the Lebanese militant group continues to be incoherent. By flexing its muscles against Hizballah while supporting Lebanese state institutions that it has heavily penetrated or fully controls, the White House ends up undermining its own pursuit of the group’s illicit sources of finance.

This contradiction at the heart of American policy is now playing out in Paraguay, where the Lebanese embassy is attempting to block the extradition [to the U.S.] of the alleged Hizballah financier Nader Mohamad Farhat. . . . On May 17, while the U.S. Treasury was announcing new Hizballah designations, Paraguayan authorities raided . . . a currency-exchange house in Ciudad del Este . . . and arrested Farhat, its owner, for his role in an alleged $1.3 million drug-money-laundering scheme. Farhat is alleged to be a member of . . . the branch of Hizballah’s External Security Organization in charge of running overseas illicit-finance and-drug trafficking operations. . . .

On May 28, the Lebanese chargé d’affaires in Asunción, Hassan Hijazi, sent a letter to Paraguay’s attorney general intimating that she should reject the U.S. request to extradite Farhat. Hijazi is clearly entitled to look after the interests of a Lebanese national. He could do so by offering consular services to the detainee while publicly distancing his country from this type of financial crime. . . . Interfering in the legal process of his host country, however, is an infringement of diplomatic protocol and a sure sign that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beirut is prioritizing Hizballah’s interests over those of Lebanon.

Washington should not let this slip quietly, and neither should Paraguay. Asunción should declare Hijazi to be persona non grata and unceremoniously dispatch him back to Lebanon. . . . The United States should give reassurances to Paraguay that punishing the envoy and extraditing the culprit is the right course of action. Farhat’s money laundering scheme is the tip of Hizballah’s criminal iceberg in the Triple Frontier. . . . Washington, [moreover], needs to recognize that Lebanese institutions are not a counterweight to Hizballah, but its enablers.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Hizballah, Latin America, Lebanon, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy