Hezbollah, Taliban operatives face drug charges in US

Charges unsealed in Manhanttan court highlight "the growing nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism," US attorney says.

July 27, 2011 01:30
1 minute read.
Hezbollah rocket launcher

Hezbollah rocket launcher 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)

NEW YORK - US prosecutors on Tuesday announced drug and terrorism charges against four men arrested in sting operations meant to disrupt links between international militants and criminal groups in the drug trade.

Documents unsealed in Manhattan federal court detailed two separate US Drug Enforcement Administration operations targeting Afghanistan's Taliban and the Lebanese group Hezbollah.

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The charges highlighted "the growing nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism," Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara told reporters.

In the operation targeting Hezbollah, two of the men told people secretly working for the US anti-drug agency that they wanted to purchase anti-aircraft missiles and handguns for the group, court documents said.

The men, Cetin Aksu and Bachar Wehbe, were charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a known terrorist group. Aksu, a Turkish Kurd, was arrested in Bucharest, Romania on Monday. Wehbe, a Lebanese national, was in custody in Manhattan.

Siavosh Henareh, an Iranian Kurd residing in Romania, also was arrested in the operation in Bucharest on Monday. He faces drug charges after offering to sell heroin to the US agents, court papers said. He faces a minimum of 10 years in prison if convicted.

Aksu and Wehbe also face heroin distribution charges. Each faces a minimum of 25 years in prison if convicted.

In a separate operation, US officials charged an Afghan man, Taza Gul Alizai, with selling heroin and weapons to a US law-enforcement source posing as a member of the Taliban, which the US considers a terrorist organization.

Alizai faces narco-terrorism and drug distribution charges, He faces a minimum of 20 years in prison if convicted. He was arrested on Monday and is in custody in Manhattan.

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