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December 14th, 2011
The lead article in today’s New York Times, “Beirut Bank Seen as a Hub of Hezbollah’s Financing,” provides a window into one of the most notorious organizations in the Middle East, finishing a close second behind Al Qaeda.
Hezbollah was originally founded in reaction to Israel’s occupation of Southern Lebanon, but it has morphed into a full-fledged quasi-governmental unit. Its militia is stronger than the Lebanese army, and its social services offer better support than the government as well.
This article, though, provides increased transparency into its operations in criminal enterprises for funding, including participation in drug trafficking in South America. It makes it harder to justify dealing with a group that calls itself the “Party of God,” but is portrayed in this article as “the Gambino family on steroids.”
Hezbollah is also on the verge of being indicted by a United Nations tribunal for the assassination of the Lebanese prime minister in 2005.
The bank involved in the money laundering, a Lebanese Christian organization, was exposed after it failed, and its books were investigated by auditors. The focus on Hezbollah’s financial transactions represents a revived effort by the United States to cut off the sources of funding for terrorist organizations.
With Hezbollah’s support from Iran and Syria diminishing (they have their own problems), this seems like a great tactic to keep up the pressure.
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