Why Hasn’t the U.S. Cracked Down on Hizballah in Latin America?

April 17 2018

The Iran-backed Lebanese terrorist organization Hizballah maintains an extensive network in South and Central America, where it plans attacks, engages in money laundering, and, most importantly, runs a major drug-smuggling operation that it uses to finance its military operations. During the Obama administration, a major American effort to unravel Hizballah’s illicit activities in the Western hemisphere was rolled back, most likely in pursuit of accommodation with Iran. Emanuele Ottolenghi argues that Washington must get tough with the jihadist group:

The White House has to show that it is prepared to take the lead by designating Hizballah . . . a Transnational Criminal Organization under U.S. law. . . . Although the Hizballah International Finance Prevention Act of 2015 required that the White House determine whether Hizballah meets the criteria for [this] designation, the Obama administration declined to do so. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed legislation seeking to spur the executive branch into action, while giving its agencies sharper tools to go after the terror group. Yet the administration has not acted. . . .

To date, no Latin American country has designated Hizballah as a terrorist organization. . . . However, the United States can achieve much of the same effect [merely] by persuading other countries to recognize Hizballah as a narco-trafficking threat under their own laws. Yet for that request to be credible, the U.S. must do so first. . . .

[Take, for example, the] Ayman Joumaa network in Colombia, which laundered drug proceeds through a complex scheme involving used-car businesses in the United States and customers in West Africa. The Eastern District of Virginia indicted Joumaa in 2011 based on Drug Enforcement Agency evidence, but he remains at large. Even after the Joumaa case uncovered the prominent role of used-car sales, they remain an important part of Hizballah’s money-laundering schemes through West Africa. . . .

[T]he evidence accumulated over a decade of investigations in the United States and abroad makes a damning case for passing tougher legislation against Hizballah’s terror-crime nexus, and an even more compelling one for a Transnational Criminal Organization designation. What is President Trump waiting for?

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Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Drugs, Hizballah, Iran, Latin America, U.S. Foreign policy

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism