Hezbollah‘s bags of cash
By W. Thomas Smith, Jr
Monday, January 28, 2008
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For years it’s been reported that Hezbollah – the Lebanese-based Shiia
terrorist organization that by any military standards fields one of the
world’s most formidable “terrorist armies” – has been receiving money from
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to the tune of $100 million,
annually. That figure was recently, reportedly upped to a staggering $400
million, and more recently to an incomprehensible one-billion U.S. dollars.
In a Jan. 11 piece for Human Events, Middle Eastern terrorism expert Dr.
Walid Phares wrote: “This ballistic leap [in funding] would enable the
organization to crush any opponent inside Lebanon and engage in worldwide
operations against Western democracies and Arab moderates.”
No wonder Hezbollah was able to fight tooth-to-eyeball the way it did
against the Israeli Army back in the summer of 2006. No wonder dramatic
car-bombing assassinations continue unabated in Lebanon. No wonder the
Lebanese parliament is unable to elect a president. No wonder the legitimate
army and police have virtually no jurisdiction over Hezbollah-controlle d
“security zones” in Lebanon. No wonder so much of the Lebanese media –
including many Western journalists in that country — have been corrupted
and manipulated by Hezbollah. And no wonder Hezbollah is growing its
international presence through the development of terror cells and
sympathetic Shiia communities, not only in the Middle East, but throughout
much of Europe, Africa, parts of Asia, and the Americas – to include U.S.
cities like Charlotte, N.C., Detroit and Dearborn, MI, and Los Angeles.
The money factor is simply too big; and it seems as if the U.S. and our
allies in the global war on terror are fighting a losing battle – at least
temporarily – as we try to shut down this dangerous cash flow to Hezbollah.
Sources in Lebanon and the U.S. tell me that up until a year or so ago, much
of the Iranian money was transferred to terrorist organizations – primarily
Hezbollah – through financial institutions like Bank Saderat Iran, a
Tehran-based bank with some 3,400 branches in Iran and overseas. The U.S.
Treasury Department “blacklisted” Bank Saderat Iran in 2006. And the U.S.
government has since been trying to push the United Nations to issue an
official “trade ban” on the bank.
According to the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, “The U.S. claims Bank Melli
and Bank Saderat have funded procurement of sensitive nuclear technology.
U.S. officials wanted to blacklist the banks, but fell short of the goal.”
Bank or no bank, the money is literally pouring into Hezbollah‘s coffers,
ten-fold since 9/11.
“Weapons and money are flowing across the border from Syria into Lebanon,”
says Al Sayed Mohammad Ali El Husseini, a former Hezbollah deputy
commander-turned- outspoken critic of the organization. “The money comes in
According to Husseini, there are two “specially designated military
aircraft” that operate in-and-out of the Damascus airport. “Those airplanes
are for the IRGC, and they are never inspected,” he says. “The sole purpose
for those planes is to fly between Iran and Syria. They bring both weapons
and money: The money is in very large bags similar to what you might ship
potatoes in. The money never comes in suitcases because the suitcases could
not carry enough.”
The weapons and money, he adds, are then loaded onto trucks and transported
over a military route that has existed since the time of Lebanon’s Syrian
When I ask Husseini if the money is also entering through the airports in
Lebanon or banks like Saderat Iran, he says, “No longer.”
It’s not only the Iranian money, but the untraceable revenue generated from
the worldwide Shiia Diaspora – not all Shiia, but those friendly to
Hezbollah and eager to fund what they deem to be the “resistance” against
Hezbollah‘s natural enemy, Israel – as well as the drug-growing and
processing industry, primarily hashish, in the Bekaa Valley.
Tom Harb, secretary general of Lebanon’s pro-democracy World Council of the
Cedars Revolution, says one of the major reasons Hezbollah has not been
disbanded (all “militias” in Lebanon are to be disbanded under UN Security
Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701) is the money. “The influence of the
Iranian money is simply too powerful,” Harb says. “And that influence is
reflected in an increasingly strong pro-Hezbollah lobby not only Lebanon,
but in Europe and other parts of the world. This is enabling Hezbollah to
become the Taliban of Lebanon.”
Phares agrees, and as he so succinctly stated earlier this month: “There is
no native force in Lebanon that can match this tidal wave nor even one tenth
W. Thomas Smith Jr. is a former U.S. Marine infantry leader, parachutist,
and shipboard counterterrorism instructor and co-author of The
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