Once convicted of setting up phony companies to deposit stolen checks at local banks, Roda Taher fled South Florida for the Middle East to avoid prison time.
“Little scammers in Miami don’t wire $94 million to foreign bank accounts in places like China and Hong Kong,” said Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Washington-based nonprofit Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. “It’s very plausible to see this as a larger scheme for funding Hezbollah.”
Ottolenghi, whose foundation was formed in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, focuses on foreign policy and national security. A former Oxford University lecturer, Ottolenghi said Hezbollah, with assistance from Iran, has become ingrained in Paraguayan society and the other Tri-Border nations, helping criminal cartels and local mafias ship drugs and other contraband to markets in the United States, Europe and other parts of the world.
“They then launder revenues through sales of consumer goods,” Ottolenghi told a U.S. Senate subcommittee in May. “Finally, those profits fund terrorist activities.”
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