An analyst says if the United States wants to stop the flow of funding to the Middle East terror group Hezbollah , there is a way.
Clare Lopez, senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy, said the issue is that U.S. officials haven’t pushed for that action.
“The Treasury Department has been at the forefront of some of this effort to track terror funding and so forth. Unfortunately the Department of Justice has basically thrown in the towel with its refusal to prosecute the remaining defendants on the unindicted co-conspirators list in the Holy Land Foundation Terrorism funding trial,” Lopez said.
Lopez said it’s already in the law that it is illegal to transfer cash to terror-sponsoring states.
“It seems to me that there has to be some measure in the law that gets to intent or gets to knowing the end user of the funds. Absolutely we have laws that prevent transfers of funds to states that are known to support terrorism,” Lopez said.
“I would say that this is an area that they (the federal authorities) haven’t focused on or that they may not have enough information,” she said.
Listen to an interview with Lopez:
WND reported last week on anti-terrorism analyst Sam Bazzi’s research that asserts American Muslims are wiring money to their bank accounts in Lebanese banks and then giving “donations” to Hezbollah-supporting mosques in Lebanon.
A Hezbollah specialist and intelligence analyst who asked not to be named agrees that wire transfers are the method of choice. He says the U. S. should be able to track the cash transfers but believes there may be an intermediate stop.
“There probably are some direct personal transfers which easily could be monitored closely by U.S. authorities to accounts in Lebanon, although I would think that due to monitoring of such accounts any funds sent out would go through an intermediary bank, perhaps in a major European country, and then be picked up by Hezbollah cells there,” the specialist explained.
“Otherwise, U.S. authorities would be able to trace back funding to people resident in the U.S,” he said.
The specialist said other illegal activities also are linked.
“There is the issue of the diamond trade out of Africa and drug money used to raise funds in which Hezbollah is known to have linked up with drug cartels especially in the Tri-Border region in South America to raise and then send out that money from regions where it is easier to do so, other than the United States,” the analyst said.
“In fact, I’m aware of a case right now in which members of a Lebanese clan with sympathies to Hezbollah allegedly were involved in preparing to set up a drug ring to raise money for Hezbollah coffers. Due to very aggressive action by DEA and FBI, however, that avenue was shut down,” he said.
Drug trafficking as a means of raising money is one of the issues raised by a CBN news report in May in which American Enterprise Institute analyst Roger Noriega affirmed that Hezbollah is involved in a network that includes West Africa, Venezuela and the United States.
The analyst also cites the break-up of a Hezbollah-connected cigarette smuggling ring in 2000
and another one in 2004 as evidence of the terrorist group’s extensive effort at penetrating the U. S.
“You may recall that a few years ago there was a cigarette smuggling effort in the U.S. to raise money for Hezbollah but all of it was being monitored by U.S. law enforcement at the federal level. At some point, they decided to shut it down and arrest and jail perpetrators,” the specialist said.
“I believe that while there may be some effort, the monitoring from the U.S. makes it very precarious in sending cash,” the analyst said.
Neither the FBI or the DEA has responded to WND’s request for comment.
“The extent to which such funding comes from personal contributions of sympathizers in the U.S. may also be known by the Bureau but, in some cases, may not take action in an effort to monitor the path of that funding, to see how significant it is. Certainly, the cigarette smuggling case in Charlotte, N.C., was significant,” the specialist said.
“Money was raised by reaping significant profits by exploiting the difference in cigarette tax rates between North Carolina and Michigan. Hezbollah has many sympathizers in the U.S. and, frankly, I believe U.S. law enforcement is somewhat challenged to know who they are,” the specialist said.
“Law enforcement may have suspicions but once they’re in Lebanon, unless there is evidence, may have a difficult time knowing what they do and with whom they meet,” the specialist said.
Even though there are questions on the route the money may take, a common point in the analyses by both Bazzi and the specialist is the “summer trip abroad.”
“Many are professionals such as doctors, lawyers or everyday Lebanese-Americans, and they are not always Shia. Often, they will travel to Lebanon on their own dime and meet with Hezbollah officials to whom they may give cash,” the analyst continued.
The intelligence analyst added another factor in support for Hezbollah. He said that all of the donors may not be Shiite Muslims.
“They also may be Sunnis and even Christians, more out of support for Hezbollah in its avowed goal of protecting Lebanon from any possible Israeli invasion rather than adhering to any vow to destroy Israel or set up a caliphate, although both of these goals have changed in recent years,” the specialist said.
“Hezbollah will say that opposition to Israel does not equate to its
destruction although they talk of destroying Israel if Lebanon is attacked,” he