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Revelations uncover bitter truths about Hezbollah’s dirty money


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Jonathan Schanzer, Mark Dubowitz
22nd January 2018 - Al-Arabiya

The Trump Administration and Democrats in the American Congress can’t agree on much these days. We’ve got a government shutdown in Washington to prove it. But there is at least one area where both Democrats and the President have a meeting of the minds: combatting Hezbollah.

In recent years, Congress has passed new sanctions measures that provide the United States government with powerful financial tools to target Hezbollah. And now the Department of Justice has created a new Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team (reviving a task force that was marginalized during the Obama Administration) to target Hezbollah. In short, none of Hezbollah’s global assets are safe. Nor are the bankers who enable its global business – not in Lebanon or anywhere else.

The Hezbollah International Financing Prevent Act of 2015, passed overwhelmingly by a bipartisan Congress, targets Hezbollah’s global narcotics empire, its media properties including the al-Manar television station, as well as other illicit activities that fund the terror group worldwide. The law’s most important feature: it empowers the Administration to target foreign banks that do business with entities that facilitate Hezbollah’s activities and to cut them off from the US financial system.

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In the days and weeks ahead, Lebanon’s bankers and regulators should expect to hear from US officials about taking steps to inoculate the system from Hezbollah infiltration. This includes larger banks like Fransabank, Banque Libano-Française, BSL Bank, and First National Bank. But it may include some of the smaller banks, too.

The American effort to combat Hezbollah’s global financing is ramping up. And it’s not just the revival of “Project Cassandra” to target the group’s activities in the Southern Hemisphere. The terror group’s banking activities, especially in Lebanon, are now a top concern.

 

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