Jailed Hezbollah financier granted early release, returned to Lebanon

“At this time, a charter flight to Lebanon has been scheduled for July 2020 and Mr Tajideen is on the manifest.”

The Hezbollah flag (photo credit: REUTERS)
The Hezbollah flag
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The United States released a convicted Hezbollah financier early on compassionate grounds, and will return him to Lebanon shortly, according to AFP news agency.
Kassim Tajideen had originally been sentenced to serve five years for providing financial support to Hezbollah, which the US lists as a designated terrorist organization. But at a May 28 hearing, Washington Federal District Court Judge Reggie Walton granted compassionate release, ruling that, at 64, Tajideen's age and "serious health conditions" left him at particular risk of contracting coronavirus within the prison system.
Justice Department arguments that Tajideen was of reasonable health for a man of his age, and that there was no coronavirus in the prison he was held in, were rejected by Walton.
A June 11 court filing by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stated that he had been released from federal prison following a two-week quarantine for coronavirus, and moved to a county detention center to await deportation.
“At this time, a charter flight to Lebanon has been scheduled for July 2020 and Mr. Tajideen is on the manifest,” the court filing by ICE said, according to AFP.
A wealthy businessman before his incarceration, with companies from Belgium to Lebanon and across central and West Africa, Tajideen is said to have handed tens of millions of dollars to the Hezbollah, in addition to giving the group other support. in 2009, the United States deemed him a “specially designated global terrorist,” and in March 2017 he was arrested in Morocco.
In December 2018, he pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy, for which he was handed a five-year sentence and the forfeiture of $50 million seized by US officials.
There has been speculation that his release was in response to Lebanon releasing Amer al-Fakhoury, a naturalized US citizen. Fakhoury was released as he was suffering from late stage cancer and therefore at risk from the coronavirus, the authorities said.
But Tajideen's lawyer William Taylor denied a link, telling AFP: “This was a straight-up compassionate release, you can see that from the papers. Had nothing to do with Fakhoury.”