Having operated for more than a quarter-century, (Hezbollah) has developed capabilities that Al-Qaeda can only dream of, including large quantities of missiles and highly sophisticated explosives. former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff
Intelligence Online (IO), a subscription-only insider newsletter based in Paris, cited the roll-ups of Hezbollah operatives in Azerbaijan and Egypt and an embarrassing diplomatic flap in Colombia as setbacks to the Iran- and Syria-backed organization. The trial of two Lebanese Hezbollah agents arrested on espionage charges in Azerbaijan is scheduled to open in Baku next Wednesday, June 24. IO claims that the arrests of Ali Karaki and Ali Najmeddin were the result of the "active cooperation between the CIA outpost in Azerbaijan, Turkey's Milli Istihbarat Teskilati and Israel's Mossad." A Cairo court, meanwhile, is expected to see the appearance this week of another suspected Lebanese Hezbollah operative, the newsletter reports. Sami Chehab was arrested in April on charges of assembling a terrorist cell of 48 persons in Egypt. "As in Azerbaijan, several foreign intelligence agencies took part in rolling up the network, particularly the CIA and Mossad," according to IO editor Philippe Vasset. The cases follow on a diplomatic flap in Columbia last October, when "Hezbollah's leadership was also obliged to send an official letter to the Colombian diplomatic mission in Beirut to deny any link with ... three Lebanese nationals who had just been arrested in Bogotá and accused of running an international cocaine ring," IO reported.Apparently, those 3 Lebanese nationals were giving 12% of their gains to the terrorist group.
Of course, one could ask why it is that a group that claims that it has only the best interests of the Lebanese people at heart--that, and the destruction of Israel--needs to have agents in Colombia.
In October 2005, Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, Director of American Center for Democracy, testified before the House of Commons in Ottawa about terrorism financing:
Concerning illegal drugs, since the mid-1980s Hezbollah has used illicit drugs as a major funding source and weapon against the west. An official Iranian fatwa ruled: “We are making these drugs for Satan America and the Jews. If we cannot kill them with guns, so we will kill them with drugs.”This is barely the tip of the iceberg.
Hezbollah’s involvement in the illegal drug trade centres on a transnational triangle of illicit activity conducted from areas of Lebanon, the Balkans, and the tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. The unstable, often corrupt government structures, weak economic platforms, porous borders, and largely unsupervised waterways and airfields in these regions are highly conducive to illicit operations.
In Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, Hezbollah controls approximately 13,000 acres that produce at least 300 tons of hashish annually, most of which is exported to Europe. This high-quality Lebanese hashish grosses Hezbollah $180 million annually. Hezbollah-run laboratories, refining tons of heroin, are estimated to bring in some $3 billion annually. Hezbollah also smuggles arms. However, one smuggled Kalashnikov wholesales for $500, while one kilo of heroin wholesales for $3,000 to $5000.
Of course, these Hezbollah operatives have strong relationships with other narcoterrorist groups and criminal gangs wherever they are operating.
Brazilian authorities, for example, estimate that at least $6 billion to $6.5 billion are laundered in the tri-border region annually by criminal gangs, including terrorists, and that in the year 2000 alone, at least $261 million went to the Middle East from Islamist organizations in the region.
It's time that the true nature of that iceberg becomes known. Dr. Ehrenfeld testified that in addition to drug trafficking, Hizbullah also is involved in:
· Illegal arms trading · Cigarette smuggling · Currency, video and CD counterfeiting · Fraud · Robbery · Operating illegal telephone exchanges · ExtortionLet's make Hizbollah a prime target in the war against terrorism.