SUPPORTERS OF Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah display Hezbollah and Lebanese flags in Baalbek, Bekaa valley in eastern Lebanon in August last year. (Hassan Abdallah/Reuters).
(photo credit: HASSAN ABDALLAH / REUTERS)
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a new task force to investigate drug trafficking by Hezbollah in the United States. The task force is called the Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team.
At first glance, the move looks political – especially considering the media coverage the announcement received. Much of the coverage suggests that the Obama administration scuttled an investigation into Hezbollah in an effort to make nice to Iran. Media coverage, and many pundits, also suggest that the previous administration rationalized that by not ruffling the feathers of Hezbollah, which is one of Iran’s indisputable minions, Iran would be happier with the United States and actively continue negotiations on nuclear affairs and follow through with the nuclear agreement.
There certainly is a political angle here, but there is much more than political machination at stake.
The purpose of the new task force is not just to find out or explain what happened in the past. Its purpose is to shut down any current and future narcoterror related activity, by Hezbollah, from passing through the United States. The beauty of Hezbollah’s narcoterror activities – from their point of view is that they figured out how to use the United States as a thoroughfare for their narcotics money laundering trade.
It is by no means an exaggeration to say that stopping Hezbollah’s narcoterror network will enhance safety in the United States and further secure the larger Western world. An added benefit of shuttering Hezbollah’s money laundering drug activity is that Israel’s security will be significantly improved.
By now it should be abundantly clear to all, as it should have been to the Obama administration, that the profits gained from the hundreds of millions of drug trade dollars Hezbollah receives goes directly into their military coffers. It is that money that engines the murderous terror machine that attacks Israel over its northern border.
Hezbollah’s tentacles extend far and wide beyond their home base in southern Lebanon. They reach as far as South America, Central America, Africa and of course, other parts of the Middle East and now there is an operational hub in the United States. The terror they perpetrate is linked not only to drugs and narcotics and money laundering, but also to used car exchanges. In fact, used car exchanges are the foundation of Hezbollah’s money laundering system. They have also developed a large – a very large, illegal cigarette smuggling ring. The contraband cigarettes are shuttled from the southern states to Ohio and Michigan, thereby avoiding federal taxes and tax stamps.
In his announcement US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “The Justice Department will leave no stone unturned in order to eliminate threats to our citizens from terrorist organizations and to stem the tide of the devastating drug crisis.”
He continued, “The team will initiate prosecutions that will restrict the flow of money to foreign terrorist organizations as well as disrupt violent international drug trafficking operations.”
Sessions is assembling a group of experts to man the task force. Prosecutors, money laundering experts, terror experts, drug and DEA experts, organized crime experts and accounting experts will work hand in hand to shut down this illegal Hezbollah funding enterprise.
If, along the way, investigators discover that the Obama administration did indeed choose to turn a blind eye to illegal drug and terror linked activities in order to appease Iran, Attorney General Sessions will make those findings public. The Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team is actually beginning its work with by pouring over material and assessing information that they find in the files of Project Cassandra, the law enforcement initiative formed during the Obama administration to pursue Hezbollah’s drug smuggling operations in the first place.
In the end, Washington is Washington is Washington. Everything turns political, everything turns partisan. Everything, even admirable and necessary endeavors intended for the greater good like shutting down Hezbollah’s activities in the United States, turns political.
The author is a political commentator. He hosts the TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS TV. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern.