Report: Hezbollah funded by drug trade in Europe

By chillinwill · Jan 10, 2010 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    German police suspect the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, of using drug trafficking in Europe to fund part of its activities, German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday.

    According to the report published on the magazine's website, German police arrested two Lebanese citizens living in Germany last October after they transferred large sums of money to a family in Lebanon with connections to Hezbollah's leadership, including the Shiite group's Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah.

    Suspicion was first raised in May 2008, when police found 8.7 million Euros in the bags of four Lebanese men at the airport in Frankfurt.

    Police searched the men's apartment in Speyer, Germany, and found an additional half a million Euros.

    According to the report, police suspected the men were selling cocaine in Europe and sending the profits back to Lebanon.

    The report added that the two suspects went through training at a Hezbollah camp. The suspects deny the charges against them.

    Israel has in recent years accused Hezbollah of drug trafficking along the Lebanon-Israel border.

    However, Nasrallah has denied Israel's charge of "narcoterrorism." In a speech last November, he accused Israel of trying to put a political spin on what in his view is simply a drug operation run by Lebanese drug dealers in collusion with Israeli border guards.

    Israeli police say that based on evidence gathered from interrogating busted traffickers, nothing happens on the Lebanon-Israel border without Hezbollah's consent.

    By Assaf Uni
    January 9, 2010

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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Hizbullah denies profiting from German drug trade

    Hizbullah denies profiting from German drug trade

    BEIRUT: Hizbullah on Sunday dismissed as “totally untrue” allegations published by a European magazine that the group was raising funds through drug dealing in Germany. According a report carried Saturday in the German magazine Der Spiegel, which has published several reports in the past intended to embarrass the group, German police are said to believe Hizbullah may have members in the country selling drugs and sending the profits back to Lebanon.

    The magazine’s website cites as evidence of this the fact that German police arrested two Lebanese residing in Germany last October after they allegedly transferred a large quantity of money to a family in Lebanon close to senior Hizbullah officials. It claimed the police believe the men received Hizbullah military training – a charge the men have denied.

    The report went on to say that police also found 8.7 million euros ($12.53 million) in the luggage of four Lebanese men at Frankfurt Airport in May 2008. A police search of the men’s apartment unearthed an additional 500,000 euros ($720,850). Police suspect the men were selling cocaine throughout Europe to raise funds for Hizbullah, it added.
    Hizbullah’s spokesperson Ibrahim Moussawi told The Daily Star the allegations were “totally untrue” and didn’t deserve further comment.
    Der Spiegel has published similar reports targeting Hizbullah in the past. In May last year, it claimed the group was responsible for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri. “Intensive investigations in Lebanon are all pointing to a new conclusion: that it was not the Syrians, but instead special forces of … Hizbullah that planned and executed” Hariri’s Valentine’s Day assassination, the report said.

    A spokeswoman for the prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is tasked with prosecuting suspects in the assassination, told The Daily Star at the time it was unclear where the magazine had gotten its information.

    Hizbullah meanwhile dismissed the story, written by journalist Erich Follath, as a complete fabrication intended to tip the balance of the June parliamentary elections in the favor of their rivals.

    The latest report comes amid a renewed war of words between Israel and Lebanon, and follows several accusations by Tel Aviv that the Shiite group is involved in drug trafficking along the border.

    Israel’s Anti-Drug Authority ran a campaign in 2008 aimed at deterring Israelis from buying drugs it said funded Hizbullah operations. One banner showed an image of the party’s secretary general, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, emerging like a genie from a smoking pipe next to the words: “At the end of every joint sits Nasrallah … whoever uses narcotics are lending a hand to the next terror attack.”

    The authority claimed four to five tons of heroin entered Israel in 2008, mostly through Lebanon. Hizbullah officials have repeatedly denied all accusations that it runs a drug smuggling operation, saying Lebanese drug dealers work in cahoots with Israeli border officials.

    In 2006, Israeli army lieutenant colonel Omar al-Heib was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for providing Hizbullah with maps and information about military maneuvers in return for heroin, hashish and money.

    Lebanon’s drug trade, mainly hashish, flourished in the lawless years of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 Civil War. The trade was stemmed after intervention by the Lebanese Army, and in 1997, the United Nations removed Lebanon from its list of big drug producers. Nevertheless, a 2009 report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime found that “farmers appear to be resuming cannabis cultivation.”

    Tensions between Israel and Lebanon have heated up in recent months, with Tel Aviv on Thursday accusing Hizbullah of planting 300 kilograms of explosives near the border. On the same day, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel would be ready for a war against Lebanon by May this year. “Israel would consider the government of Lebanon responsible for any shooting from Lebanon against citizens of Israel,” Barak told Israeli radio.

    By Dalila Mahdawi
    Daily Star staff
    Monday, January 11, 2010
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