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Tag: Hezbollah

Column: Retired ATF Official Warns that Law Enforcement Must Look Forward in the War on Terrorism

James Cavanaugh was an ATF agent and supervisor for 33 years before retiring in 2010.

James Cavanaugh/atf photo

 
By James Cavanaugh
For ticklethewire.com

Law-enforcement, security and intelligence professionals must have a forward-looking approach in the current climate of world events. Now is the time for police and intelligence personnel to think critically about the year ahead. While the threat from a wounded Al Qaeda won’t disappear, the looming threat from a cornered Iran – and it’s terrorist proxies like Hezbollah — may become the more deadly problem.

Here’s why. Western nations have ramped up the sanctions against Iran. Additionally, in the last few years, five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated. The most recent attack with a magnetic bomb was attached by a motorcyclist to the scientist’s vehicle. Just viewing the vehicle destruction on media footage shows the targeted nature of the bomb. It was no terroristic bomb trying to gain mass casualties.

Iran has ramped up its saber rattling and threatened to close the Straits of Hormuz. The Iranian Navy has sent small fast boats to harass U.S. Navy warships in the Persian Gulf. Iran is holding a 27-year-old former United States Marine Corps veteran of Iranian descent and accusing him of being a CIA spy. The New York Times reports Iran is vowing revenge against Israel and the United States over the scientists assassination. And this week, the European Union announced tougher sanctions still.

How this all plays out in the world stage is unclear. Ditto for how it could all play out here at home. But we know Iran’s and Hezbollah’s tentacles have reached our shores. Law enforcement has to be vigilante.

That’s where being proactive and smart counts. We have to look at the history of Iran and its terrorist proxies to try and predict the future. In the past years, Iran has wielded a formidable weapon, the dangerous and deadly proxies’ of Hezbollah. Hezbollah is a fighting force with capabilities above and beyond even Al Qaeda. Hezbollah is supported by a nation-state, trained directly by military personnel, closely allied with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) and the Quds Force, and tempered in war, most recently the 2006 war between Hezbollah in Lebanon against Israel. They are likely heavily operating as thugs in Syria for the Assad government, a close ally of Iran in the most recent months.

Hezbollah is the modern father of suicide bombing. It was responsible for three major terrorist bombings in 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon; The US Embassy, The French Military Barracks and the US Marine Corps Barracks, for a total of 316 deaths. The group was busy in Beirut in 1984 when it set a bomb outside the US Embassy annex that killed 24 people.

In 1985, the group hijacked TWA Flight 847 and killed a US Navy Diver, and later that same year, members captured, tortured and killed the CIA Station Chief in Lebanon. I was serving in The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and recall when we sent a team of ATF bomb investigators to the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1992, to help the Argentine Government investigate and deal with the 29 killed there. Once again Hezbollah and Iran were believed responsible. Hezbollah struck again with the Argentina bombing of a Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 96 people. The group also struck the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996 killing 19 US Military personnel.

Closer to home, in 2002, Sheriff’s Deputies, State Agents and ATF, FBI and federal prosecutors broke up and arrested members of a flourishing Hezbollah cell in North Carolina which was smuggling cigarettes and funneling huge amounts of cash and sophisticated military equipment to Hezbollah.

More recently, in October 2011, the DEA, FBI and federal prosecutors arrested a member of the Quds Force, an arm of the Revolutionary Guard, and an Iranian American for a plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States.

The group also plotted to bomb the Israeli embassy in Washington and bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Argentina. Luckily the effort was poorly executed and failed. US Law Enforcement exploited that weakness and broke up the plot. Hezbollah has direct connections to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Quds force. Also, we know from public information how closely they operate with direction from Iran.

The good news is that all of the training and preparation that law-enforcement and intelligence have done to defeat attacks by Al Qaeda are invaluable and directly applicable to the fight even against Hezbollah, Iran and all of its dispatched demons.

Notwithstanding that training, you often don’t see if you are not looking. Law enforcement has to look toward the next threat, not always the last threat, Al Qaeda is constantly looking behind themselves for drones, police can’t be constantly looking behind for Al Qaeda only, the next attack may come from another direction.

In the end, I refer to the United States Coast Guard’s motto, “Semper Paratus”, always ready.

 

 

Authorities Mistakenly Arrest Arab-American Leader

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — There’s different kinds of Ooops. There’s the recent one when presidential candidate Rick Perry had a senior moment during the debates. Then there’s the ones where authorities arrest the wrong guy.

This one involved the wrong guy.

The Detroit Free Press reports that police, acting on an FBI arrest warrant, mistakenly arrested an Arab-American leader in Dearborn Friday night in connection with a cigarette smuggling probe and supporting Hezbollah.

Ali Hammoud, president of the Bint Jebail Cultural Center, was released on Saturday after the FBI questioned him and figured out they had the wrong guy, the Free Press reported.

Detroit FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold told the Free Press: “The individual fit the description/identifiers of an active warrant. It was later determined it was not the correct individual, and he was released.”

 

DEA Says Lebanese Bank Laundered Drug Money Linked to Hezbollah

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The DEA and Treasury Department on Thursday accused the Lebanese Canadian Bank SAL and its subsidiaries (LCB) of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars in drug profits by an organization linked to the Lebanese organization Hezbollah.

In its announcement, authorities designated the bank as a “primary money laundering concern.”

Authorities said that drug kingpin Ayman Joumaa and his Lebanon-based drug trafficking and money laundering network, along with several other individuals, have used LCB to launder as much as $200 million a month in narcotics proceeds.

Authorities say that Hezbollah derived financial support from Joumaa’s network, which moves drugs from South America to Europe and the Middle East via Africa.

“The Lebanese Canadian Bank for years has participated in a sophisticated money laundering scheme involving used cars purchased in the United States and consumer goods overseas,” DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said in a statement. “Thanks to DEA-led operations, as well as today’s Treasury action, we are exposing and disrupting this money laundering network and its connections to global drug trafficking and Hizballah,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.

“This action seeks to protect the U.S. financial system from the illicit proceeds flowing through LCB and to deprive this international narcotics trafficking and money laundering network of its preferred access point into the formal financial system,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey in a statement. “Any financial institution that collaborates in illicit conduct on this scale risks losing its access to the United States.”

Fed Judge Reduces Convicted Terrorist’s Sentence by More than 100 Years

Mohamad Hammoud/mecklenburg co. sheriff’s photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

They say federal judges have plenty powers, and in fact, they can make a century or more disappear with the snap of a finger.

That’s just what happened Thursday when U.S. District Judge Graham Mullen in Charlotte, N.C. reduced the 155 year sentence of Hezbollah supporter Mohamad Hammoud to 30 years in prison, the Associated Press reported.

“The crime represented here was not as serious as other terrorism cases,” Mullen said, according to AP.

Hammoud, 37, a North Carolina businessman, was convicted in 2002 of financing suspected Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon with profits from a multimillion-dollar cigarette-smuggling operation he ran with his brother. Prosecutors at the time accused him of being the leader of a terrorist cell.

AP reported that Hammoud, from Lebanon, will likely spend 20 more years in prison and then be deported.

His attorneys wanted the sentence reduced to the 10 years served, saying the money Hammoud raised was for a wing of Hezbollah that helps provide clean water and good housing to communities.

Mexicans Thwart Plan By Hezbollah in Latin America

hezbollah_flagBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

JERUSALEM — Call it a case of very different worlds colliding.

The  top newspaper Haaretz here in Israel reports that Mexican authorities thwarted a plan by the Lebanese group Hezbollah to set up a network in Latin America and use Mexican Nationals with ties to Lebanon to go after Israel and western targets. Haaretz attributed the story to the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Sevassah.

The report said Mexican police had under surveillance a Hezbollah group leader Jameel Nasr, who had traveled through Latin America and lived in Tijuana, Mexico. He was arrested by authorities.

Haaretz reported that U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick in June wrote the Department  Homeland Security to warn that Hezbollah was working with the Mexican drug cartels.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Brooklyn Dentist Gets 17 Months For Aiding Hezbollah Via Television Broadcasts

Many Arab Americans continue to see groups like Hezbollah and Hamas as freedom fighters. But the U.S. State Department continues to list them as terrorist organizations. The result has been that some supporters in the U.S. have gone off to prison. Here’s the latest case.

New Jersey Star Ledger Staff

The Hezbollah Flag

The Hezbollah Flag

A Brooklyn dentist who lives in New Jersey was sentenced to 17 months in prison yesterday for aiding the terrorist group Hezbollah by broadcasting its Lebanese television station to satellite users in the metropolitan area.

Saleh Elahwal, 56, of Matawan had admitted in December that he and another man accepted some $112,000 from Hezbollah’s television station, al Manar, to provide its satellite broadcasts through a company they operated, Brooklyn-based HDTV Limited, from September 2005 through August 2006.

He was sentenced yesterday to 17 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman for providing material support to Hezbollah, which the U.S. government regards as a terrorist organization.

For Full Story

Hezbollah Using Mexican Drug Routes into U.S.

border-fence-photo5It’s not surprising that other groups would get in on a good thing. The Hezbollah revelation is an interesting twist in the nagging Mexican border problem.

By Sara A. Carter
The Washington Times
WASHINGTON — Hezbollah is using the same southern narcotics routes that Mexican drug kingpins do to smuggle drugs and people into the United States, reaping money to finance its operations and threatening U.S. national security, current and former U.S. law enforcement, defense and counterterrorism officials say.

The Iran-backed Lebanese group has long been involved in narcotics and human trafficking in South America’s tri-border region of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Increasingly, however, it is relying on Mexican narcotics syndicates that control access to transit routes into the U.S.

Hezbollah relies on “the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels,” said Michael Braun, who just retired as assistant administrator and chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

“They work together,” said Mr. Braun. “They rely on the same shadow facilitators.”

For Full Story

NY Man Pleads To Providing Satellite Feeds to Hezbollah

It’s obvious that Javed Iqbal wasn’t supplying transmission feeds of Seinfeld. The feds found no humor in this programming.

CNN NEWS SERVICES
A Staten Island man pleaded guilty Tuesday to providing satellite television transmission services to the Lebanese militant movement Hezbollah, which the United States has branded a terrorist organization, legal authorities said.
In exchange, Javed Iqbal, also known as John Iqbal, received thousands of dollars, according to Lev L. Dassin, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Dassin said Iqbal admitted he had provided material support and resources to Hezbollah’s television station, Al Manar, which means ”The Beacon.”
Hezbollah uses the station to attract support, including raising funds and recruiting volunteers for attacks, according to the criminal complaint against Iqbal and statements he made in federal court.

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