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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Hezbollah's monetary terror

In 2005, Dr. Matthew Levitt with The Washington Institute for Near East Policy gave testimony to the United States Senate to the effect that Hezbollah is not only a terrorist threat to the United States, but that criminal enterprises run by Hezbollah within the United States play a part in financing Hezbollah’s activities (2005). Levitt argues that Hezbollah also recieves between $100 million and $200 million a year in funding from Iran (2005, pp. 3-4). Finally, Levitt asserts that Hezbollah recieves unspecified totals in funding from foreign expatriates and “charitable” front groups (2005, pp. 5-6)

Perhaps one reason that totals from expatriate remittances are hard to specify is the use of alternate remittance systems. Danziger explains the hawala system as an informal system thast is based on trust, the use of brokers, and the minimal use of recorded documentation. (2012, p. 213). Danziger concludes that the use of such remittance systems is hard to track due to this lack of documentation (2012, p. 214). Raghavan and Balasubramaniyan discuss the use of front groups; front groups use legal methods of transferring funds and are often otherwise legitmate organizations, making the detection of transferrence of funds used for supporting terrorism harder to detect (2012, pp. 297, 299). Clunan specifies that such legitimate operations can be both “humanitarian and business organizations” (2006, p. 570). Levitt asserts that such fronts include some Western Union offices (pp. 5, 11).

Hezbollah uses it's funding to pay for information on Israeli infrastructure, even by bribing Israeli security personnel (Levitt, 2005, p.10). Hezbollah’s ability to pay for intelligence regarding our own infrastructure becomes a dangerous consideration when factoring in George Tenet's testimony that "Hezbollah, as an organization with capability and worldwide presence, is [al-Qaeda's] equal, if not a far more capable organization” (Levitt, 2005, pp. 2-3).

The Hamoud brothers, Mohammed and Chawki, could be considered as “facilitators” for Hezbollah. Raghavan and Balasubramaniyan explain that a “facilitator”'s main role is the “raising, storing and distributing” of terrorist support finances (2012, p. 295). Levitt discusses the Hamoud case, in which the brothers were convicted for providing funding for Hezbollah; funds that were raised through criminal cigarette smuggling in the United States (2005, p.8). Realuyo discusses another facilitator, Ayman Joumaa, a “drug kingpin” whose smuggling activities were considered “critical” support for Hezbollah (2014, p.123).

The Hamouds and Joumaa represent a fraction of the types of crime conducted by Hezbollah’s facilitators. Among the crimes beyond smuggling listed by Levitt are; the theft and resale of goods, welfare fraud, financial instrument fraud, counterfeiting, import-export fraud, the sale of unlicensed goods, and extortion of Arabs under the pretense of barakat (2005, pp. 8-9). Myres reiterates this list and adds to it the diamond trade (also discussed by Levitt) and autombile theft (2012, p.696).

Myres discussion of the diamond trade highlights that Hezbollah’s criminal enterprises are a worldwide phenomenon. Joumaa did his drug business throught South and Central America...indeed, his major trading partner in Mexico was los Zetas, a narcoterrorist cartel (Realuyo, 2014, p.123). However, the full range of criminal actions in the United States is followede throughotu the world.





Clunan, A. L. (2006). The fight against terrorist financing. Political Science Quarterly (Academy of Political Science), 121(4), 569–596. Retrieved October 9, 2014 from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=23680300&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Danziger, Y. (2012). Changes in methods of freezing funds of terrorist organisations since 9/11. Journal of Money Laundering Control, 15(2), 210–236. http://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/10.1108/13685201211218234

Levitt, M. (2005). Hezbollah: Financing terror through criminal enterprise. Testimony given to Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Washington, DC, United States Senate, Retrieved April 13, 2015 from http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/testimony/313.pdf

Myres, G. (2012). Investing in the market of violence: Toward a micro-theory of terrorist financing. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 35(10), 693–711. http://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2012.712031

Raghavan, S. V., & Balasubramaniyan, V. (2012). Financial facilitators: an important component of terror networks. Journal of Money Laundering Control, 15(3), 294–303. http://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/10.1108/13685201211238043

Realuyo, C. B. (2014). The terror-crime nexus: Hezbollah’s global facilitators. Prism: A Journal of the Center for Complex Operations, 5(1), 116–131. Retrieved January 24, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/1566203785?pq-origsite=summon

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By targeting the facilitators for enhanced interrogation or for assassination..  Wilner asserts that “The literature on targeted killings suggests that their use diminishes the coercive and operational capability of violent, non-state groups in a number of ways”(2010, p. 312).  Primarily,  these discussions are directed towards the leaders of terrorist groups., but the effectiveness of "decapitation" strategy would certainly apply to any person conducting critical support to a terror group.

Obviously, you can't use this strategy against U.S. citizens or legal residents because due process applies; we need to consider better ways to deal with security threats under due process, but this is an old argument (all the way back to the Alien and Sedition Acts).
Wilner, A. S. (2010). Targeted killings in Afghanistan: Measuring coercion and deterrence in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 33(4), 307–329. doi:10.1080/10576100903582543

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It would be hard to determine if funding terrorists through the re-routing of "charity" is a new phenomenon; once the money leaves our country, it is almost impossible to account for.

I know there have been cases in which some of these front "charities" have been caught .  Although not tied to Hezbollah, five leaders of the Holy Land Foundation were convicted of providing material support to Hamas in 2008.  The FBI had been investigating them since 1994 (
No Cash for Terror:Convictions Returned in Holy Land Case, 2008, para. 1,4,8)

I guess I have to reverse my comment in the first paragraph...it looks like the use of "charity" fronts is a long used tactic of terrorist facilitators.
No Cash for Terror:Convictions Returned in Holy Land Case. (2008, November 25).  Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Retrieved April 27, 2015 from http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2008/november/hlf112508

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I agree that we should not hate fellow Americans, but we do need to recognize that there are many Americans, particularly in areas of influence such as politics, the media,  academia, and even a few in our national security community, that deny there is a problem with Islamic based terrorism.  Cottee refers to this as a "culture of denial" (2005, p.119).  Cottee also discusses the history of an anti-American ideology in the community that practices this modern "culture of denial" (2005, pp. 129-131).  From my own studies in COINTELPRO operations against subversives and terrorists, I will tell you that quite a few of those that are influential today were in those anti-American subversive and terrorist groups in the 1960's/'70's. 
I also think that there is a normal human tendency to stick one's head in the sand and to ignore problems; this is evidenced by a strong strain of isolationism in American politics.  People don't want to roll up their sleeves and get work done to avoid problems, but they will react once those problems get big enough to bite them on the posterior.
Cottee, S. (2005). The Culture of Denial: Islamic Terrorism and the Delinquent Left. Journal of Human Rights, 4(1), 119–135. http://doi.org/10.1080/14754830590947653
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Roberts states that Hezbollah is the terrorist group responsible for the deaths of more Americans up until 9/11 (2013, p.109).  Although Hezbollah denies responsibility for the terror attack against the U.S. Marine barracks in Beriut in 1983, a 2003 court case found them guilty; "
U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth said the suicide truck bombing was carried out by the group Hezbollah with the approval and funding of Iran's senior government officials" (CNN, 2203, para. 2).  This goes back to my and x's contention that Hezbollah is a front group for Iran.


CNN.com - Iran responsible for 1983 Marine barracks bombing, judge rules - May. 30, 2003. (2008, December 6). Retrieved April 29, 2015, from https://web.archive.org/web/20081206151021/http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/05/30/iran.barracks.bombing/

Roberts, M. (2013). Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God. By Matthew Levitt, Ph.D. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2013. ISBN 978-1-62616-013-2. Bibliography. Sources cited. Index. Pp. xv, 407. $32.95. Journal of Strategic Security, 6(4), 109–111. http://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/10.5038/1944-0472.6.4.8

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