To Fight Terror, Follow the Money

July 29 2019

Last month, Paraguay extradited Nader Mohamad Farhat—who runs a major currency exchange in the Tri-Border Area, where Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay touch—to the U.S. on charges of money laundering. Farhat is a Hizballah sympathizer, and likely involved with the terrorist group’s illicit dealings in the region. By using legal means to go after people like Farhat, argues Emanuele Ottolenghi, Washington can make important strides in the war on terror:

In 2015, British authorities caught Hizballah-linked operatives stockpiling more than 6,000 pounds of explosives on the outskirts of London, new reports revealed last month. The British deserve praise for unearthing the London bomb factory. But they did not destroy the underlying commercial or financial structures that allowed the group to buy and stockpile such materials.

For too long, counterterrorism operations have focused narrowly on disrupting attacks. Without aggressive prosecution of those who carry out the groups’ financial transactions, the illicit networks that provide financial and logistical support for Hizballah are likely to remain intact. . . .

By focusing on illicit networks and trade-based money laundering, the United States and its allies can move from disrupting planned attacks to depriving terrorists of the means to carry them out. The benefits of this approach would extend into other domains as well. It would protect consumers and manufacturers alike by stamping out the counterfeit goods so prevalent in trade-based money laundering schemes. It would weaken the cartels and criminal gangs that are undermining law and order throughout the Western Hemisphere, a key cause of clandestine immigration. It would punish corrupt politicians, sending a signal of hope to countries seeking to climb out of kleptocracy. In short, it is a more sustainable—and more effective—way to fight terrorism and corruption.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Hizballah, Latin America, U.S. Foreign policy, Venezuela, War on Terror

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy