To Fight Terror, Follow the Money

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

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security