Whitaker’s DoJ busts Hezb’allah financier after reviving investigation that Obama had stymied
Money is the mother’s milk not just of politics, but of terrorism as well. But moving millions of dollars across national boundaries to a terror group like Hezb’allah tends to leave a paper trail, which is why law enforcement agencies trying to stop terrorism focus on financial evidence.
One of many scandals that marred the Obama administration is the obstruction of a major anti-terror financing investigation called Project Cassandra. Via Politico:
In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.
The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.
Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.
They followed cocaine shipments, some from Latin America to West Africa and on to Europe and the Middle East, and others through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States. They tracked the river of dirty cash as it was laundered by, among other tactics, buying American used cars and shipping them to Africa. And with the help of some key cooperating witnesses, the agents traced the conspiracy, they believed, to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.
They were accomplishing a lot to prevent crime at home and terror abroad. Until:
But as Project Cassandra reached higher into the hierarchy of the conspiracy, Obama administration officials threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way, according to interviews with dozens of participants who in many cases spoke for the first time about events shrouded in secrecy, and a review of government documents and court records. When Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.
But those roadblocks disappeared under President Trump. That’s why this announcement from the DoJ was released Thursday:
Kassim Tajideen, the operator of a network of businesses in Lebanon and Africa whom the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated as an important financial supporter to the Hezbollah terror organization, pleaded guilty today to charges associated with evading U.S. sanctions imposed on him.
The announcement was made by Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker (snip)
Tajideen, 63, of Beirut, Lebanon, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, in furtherance of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). Tajideen was designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in May 2009 as a result of his provision of significant financial support to Hezbollah, which was named a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Department of State. This designation prohibited Tajideen from being involved in, or benefiting from transactions, involving U.S. persons or companies without a license from the Department of the Treasury.
“This Department of Justice has put a target on Hezbollah,” Acting Attorney General Whitaker said. (snip)
According to the statement of facts signed by Tajideen in conjunction with his plea, after his designation, Tajideen conspired with at least five other persons to conduct over $50 million in transactions with U.S. businesses that violated these prohibitions. In addition, Tajideen and his co-conspirators knowingly engaged in transactions outside of the United States, which involved transmissions of as much as $1 billion through the United States financial system from places outside the United States. [emphases added]
Were Obama still in office, this would not have happened.