Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hizballah in South America

The L.A. Times reports on Hizballah's South American drug smuggling operations and the revenue generated by the activity.
Culminating a two-year investigation, authorities arrested at least 36 suspects in recent days, including an accused Lebanese kingpin in Bogota, the Colombian capital. Chekry Harb, who used the alias "Taliban," acted as the hub of an unusual and alarming alliance between South American cocaine traffickers and Middle Eastern militants, Colombian investigators allege...

..On Oct. 13, Colombian police arrested Harb, who lived on a resident's visa in Bogota with his family, after learning that he had an Air France ticket to Syria for the next day and becoming concerned that he might flee. They also arrested the other accused boss, Ali Mohamad Rahim, and Harb's brother, Zacaria, both Lebanese immigrants who had been living in Bogota. Chekry Harb is in his late 50s and Rahim in his early 40s, officials said.

Colombian officials said the three are among 15 of the suspects who will be extradited to the United States.
These activities are by no means "news" to those who know the group and have been following its activities (although it is nice to see some validation once in a while). In fact, a mention of these activities - drug smuggling in South America; along with diamond smuggling in Africa, human smuggling into Europe, weapons smuggling into Lebanon and across the Middle East, and money laundering/smuggling the world over as a result of these operations - was made in the second post ever put up on this blog:
The dismantling of Hizballah is a complicated affair. Hizballah itself is a multilayered organization that bases its very existence on its ability to shroud a vast majority of its activities from the public eye while maintaining an intimite and powerful presence among its supporters in the activites it conducts in the open. Domestically Hizballah is a charitable organisation, a political party, an armed resistance force, and an islamic movement; on a regional level they provide training to other armed groups in the region ( e.g. Muqtada Sadr's boys and Hamas) and act as liberators vowing to liberate Al Qudz and free Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails; and finally on the international level they are smugglers of money, diamonds, weapons, drugs, and people.

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