Rescue workers search for survivors and victims in the rubble left after a powerful car bomb destroyed the Buenos Aires headquarters of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA), in this July 18, 1994 file photo.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The United States and Argentina held a workshop last week on countering Hezbollah’s terrorist activities in the western hemisphere, a month before the 25th anniversary of the AMIA bombings.
The workshop, held in Buenos Aires on Tuesday and Wednesday, included law enforcement personnel and financial practitioners from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Paraguay and Peru, as well as representatives from Ameripol.
Officials from the US departments of State, Justice and Treasury, as well as the FBI, National Counterterrorism Center and Drug Enforcement Administration, also participated in the meeting.
The summit was held ahead of a Western Hemisphere Ministerial that the government of Argentina will host commemorating the 25th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in the Argentine capital which killed 85 people and injured over 300 others on July 18, 1994.
According to a statement released by the US State Department, the workshop focused on Hezbollah’s global modus operandi, as well as its terrorist and criminal infrastructure and activities in the Americas.
“Participants discussed various techniques to constrain and counter the group’s illicit activities, including the financial and law enforcement tools available to identify, investigate and prosecute Hezbollah’s global support and facilitation networks. Participants also discussed Hezbollah attempts to continue and expand its fund-raising in the western hemisphere, especially in light of the current financial pressure on Hezbollah,” the statement said.
The finances of the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group, designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by dozens of countries across the globe, have been hit hard in recent years by sanctions imposed by Washington.
The US has also passed the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, threatening sanctions against anyone who finances the group in any significant way. But the designation has not affected Hezbollah’s patron Iran, which continues to provide the terrorist group with financial and military support.
Hezbollah also receives significant financial aid by supporters who live abroad, as well as through charities and a wide variety of criminal activities including fraud and trafficking in drugs, arms and blood diamonds.
Hezbollah’s crime network is global and based primarily in Africa, not in Lebanon. The group also runs an international network of criminal and narcotic rings both in Africa, as well as North and South America.
Hezbollah operatives also rely on legitimate business enterprises that in truth are shell companies which raise, launder and transfer vast sums to the group.
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