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