By: Kerry Patton
On December 13, the New York Times revealed everything US politicians needed to know about Hezbollah. And that is they operate throughout South and Central America alongside numerous narco-terrorists like Colombia’s FARC and Mexico’s Los Zetas. The Party of God makes a lucrative amount of drug money that gets pushed into the Middle East where it funds their reign of terror. Hezbollah uses numerous banking firms to launder their money, and a not insignificant percentage of it is generated in the United States.
What wasn’t revealed in the New York Times article though is a very unique and alarming point that very few accept, and that is Hezbollah is no longer just one terrorist organization working alone. As a result of the assassination of Lebanon’s Prime Minister in 2005, Hezbollah, Amal, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) and a handful of other terrorist groups aligned to join forces. This is known as the March 8 alliance, and it puts the Al Qaeda network to shame.
[Editor’s note: For a different perspective on Hezbollah’s presence and threat in the US, see the new Correspondent’s Watch, Hezbollah Presence in the United States is No Surprise]
Few know anything about Amal or SSNP. For those who remember the 1983 Marine Corp bombing incident, it was an Amal militia outfit that was responsible and that later became known as Hezbollah. For those with little background on SSNP, it arguably is one of the world’s premier assassination terror organization.
Rarely do these organizations ever work independently anymore. In fact, intelligence demonstrates that even a Sunni terror network known as Al Qaeda operates frequently with several Shiite terror groups such as Hezbollah. Don’t believe me? Go back and read the 9/11 Commission report.
Today, Islamic terror groups like these are aligned with Latin American terrorists. Colombia’s FARC, along with the Mexican-based Los Zetas Cartel, have aligned to create a global network that intermixes faith; proving that religion has nothing to do with today’s global war on terrorism – for now.
If you’ve ever wondered why Mohmar Qaddafi used FARC mercenaries during the Libyan revolution, look no more – the reason is found in the alliance between Latin American and Middle Eastern terrorist organizations.
The US Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has done an exceptional job investigating Hezbollah money laundering schemes within the United States. On December 15, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York released an alarming report demonstrating that more than $300 million in wired funds coming into the United States from Hezbollah. Fear not that Hezbollah operates inside Latin America; fear that they operate inside the United States.
And here Hezbollah has made a lucrative amount of money from its varied illicit criminal enterprises like cigarette smuggling. A smuggler can make about $2 million from a single truckload of cigarettes. And these types of Hezbollah operations have been known since early 2004 when criminal cases unfolded in virtually every state on the eastern corridor from Maine to Florida.
But the terrorist group’s operations do not solely involve financing. Going back and understanding their alliances, it is easy to see that Hezbollah promotes terrorist activities even inside the United States. In 1988, a team of SSNP operatives intended to cause havoc inside the US, but were intercepted in Vermont. Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attack was assisted by Hezbollah operatives. And most recently, Hezbollah supported the foiled assassination attempt against Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States.
Meanwhile, although America is one of the leading diamond purchasers in the world and tighter control over the world’s diamond industry has evolved, Hezbollah nevertheless operates alongside African nation-states along with clientele aligned with the world’s leading diamond distributor.
Iran has supported Hezbollah since its inception with millions of dollars annually. But it’s beginning to appear that Hezbollah may no longer need Iran. The terrorist group has demonstrated that is has sophisticated international financial fundraising capabilities. America loves “sex, drugs and rock and roll” as much as we love our drugs, diamonds and cigarettes. And Hezbollah has their fingers in all three of these financially lucrative industries … and is using their avowed enemy, the United States, to financially benefit from them. On our own soil.
We now that Hezbollah uses these three avenues of commerce to fund itself. How many more business will we find Hezbollah involved in? It’s anyone’s guess. But what we do know is that Hezbollah is exceptional in what they do, and have proven that, with or without a nation-state supporter like Iran, it will remain as the world’s most capable terrorist organization.
Not only do they finance their terror initiatives with global support; today, they conduct terrorist attacks anywhere, anytime – outside and inside the US.
A combat service disabled veteran, Kerry Patton is a senior analyst for WIKISTRAT. He has worked in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe focusing on intelligence and security and interviewing current and former terrorists, including members of the Taliban. He is author of, Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies, and the children’s book, American Patriotism. You can follow him on Facebook.