US Sanctions Lebanese Laundering Group Linked To Hezbollah
The United States is sanctioning Lebanese national Kassem Chams's money laundering organization, Chams Exchange, for providing services to Hezbollah and drug kingpins, US Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker said in a press release on Thursday.
"Kassem Chams and his international money laundering network move tens of millions of Dollars a month in illicit narcotics proceeds on behalf of drug kingpins and facilitate money movements for Hezbollah," Mandelker said in the release.
"We are targeting the financial infrastructure of these narcotics traffickers as part of this administration's unprecedented campaign to prevent Hezbollah and its global terror affiliates from profiting off violence, corruption, and the drug trade."
Marshall Billingslea, the U.S. Treasury’s assistant secretary on terror financing said that the tone lately spoken by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah denoted the success of US sanctions in draining the militia’s sources of funding. He also said that a Colombia-based terrorist organization is smuggling hundreds of millions of dollars for Hezbollah.
Chams Exchange launders drug proceeds throughout the world on behalf of narcotics trafficking organizations and facilitates money movements for Hezbollah. Chams moves money to and from Australia, Colombia, Italy, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Spain, Venezuela, France, Brazil, and the United States as part of its narcotics money laundering activities.
An earlier report by German magazine Der Spiegel indicated that the Hezbollah militia was benefiting from drug trafficking in Latin America, particularly through Venezuela, one of the countries in which the Lebanese network operates.
Last month, the Canadian newspaper Global News revealed that the United States, in cooperation with international intelligence agencies, had uncovered a network linked to the Colombian drug cartel La Oficina funneling billions of dollars to fund the activities of the Hezbollah militia.
The Syrian Coalition earlier said that the Hezbollah militia is complicit in the Assad regime’s war against the Syrian people. It stressed that the Iranian-backed sectarian militia is playing a terrorist, subversive role in the region and seeking to destabilize the region and foment sectarian strife.
Washington accuses Hezbollah of involvement in attacks on its targets outside the country for the benefit of the Tehran government, including the suicide attack against the US Embassy in Beirut in April 1983, the attack on the US Marines in Beirut in October 1983, and the suicide car bombing targeting the U.S. embassy annex in East Beirut in September 1984. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)