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Testimony

Attacking Hezbollah’s Financial Network: Policy Options

Testimony for House Foreign Affairs Committee
8th June 2017

Download the full testimony here. 

I will be brief about the challenge we face, touch on the strategy I helped the previous administration develop against Hizballah’s illicit activities and finances, and then propose where we need to go next to achieve a long sought, but so far unattained, strategic effect against this pernicious, but highly capable, criminal resistance and terrorist organization and its state sponsors and partners.

  • Over the last decade, Lebanese Hizballah has morphed from being a terrorist organization and politico-military (pol-mil) resistance movement to becoming a transnational criminal terrorist resistance organization fueled by a large and global illicit financial and business apparatus.
  • Hizballah’s drugs-for-intelligence program has evolved into a massive drugs-forprofit initiative.
  • Hizballah, partnered with Latin American cartels and paramilitary partners, is now one of the largest exporters of narcotics from South and Central America to West Africa into Europe and is perhaps the world’s largest money laundering organization.
  • Organized crime—ranging from cocaine and heroin trafficking to selling counterfeit currency and cigarettes, along with massive money laundering via the Lebanese banking system—has become a much larger source of funding for Hizballah than support from Iran.
  • Hizballah’s External Security Organization (i.e. its terrorist wing) uses crime forexporting its influence, increasing followers around the world, and generating income.
  • Defending against, attacking, and defeating Hizballah’s growing military capacity requires defending against, attacking, and defeating its global financial and facilitation network.
  • We built the means to do this but for reasons that remain mysterious, elusive, and hard to comprehend, much of what we built was willfully scrapped toward the end of the previous administration.
  • Rebuilding this capacity and strategy will require significant resourcing, prioritization, and oversight by this Committee.
Beginning in the summer of 2008, I had the honor of advising the Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of the Treasury, Special Operations Command, Department of State, and Customs and Border Protection on developing and spearheading the implementation of a strategy to pursue Hizballah’s web of illicit activities and finances, focusing on Hizballah’s rapidly expanding involvement in cocaine trafficking and money laundering of the proceeds.