“For all intents and purposes, the failed Lebanese state has become a puppet of Hezbollah and its patrons in Tehran.”
By YONAH JEREMY BOB AUGUST 27, 2020 18:53
A Hezbollah flag flutters in the southern Lebanese village of Khiam, near the border with Israel, Lebanon July 28, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/AZIZ TAHER)
An NGO has threatened to intercept the International Monetary Fund’s aid money earmarked for Lebanon if Hezbollah’s control over the state’s politics and finances is not ended beforehand.
In a recent letter to the IMF, Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center noted that it represents “hundreds of terror victims, both Israeli and United States citizens. Their family members were brutally murdered or maimed in terrorist attacks perpetrated by the Hezbollah terrorist organization,” and Iran.
Shurat Hadin president Nitsana Darshan-Leitner wrote that, “It has been well established that the government of Lebanon” has been “largely taken over, these past two decades” by Hezbollah. The letter highlighted Hezbollah’s control of the Lebanese parliament and of “every level of government and its financial system,” noting that “the current Lebanese president could not assume office until Hezbollah provided its consent.”
“For all intents and purposes, the failed Lebanese state has become a puppet of Hezbollah and its patrons in Tehran,” said Darshan-Leitner. Further, Shurat Hadin said, “Hezbollah is clearly moving to control the Central Bank through its Health Ministry with the fourth largest budget in the government as well as the Communication, Agriculture, and Water ministries.”
More specifically, in July 2019, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned key Hezbollah political and security figures, including Hezbollah representative in parliament, Amin Sherri, said the NGO.
The letter said that Hezbollah also manipulates the Lebanese banking system, including currency exchange houses, to sustain its global terrorist activities and has controlled an intricate worldwide money-laundering scheme since 2005.
It “utilizes a significant part of the Lebanese financial sector to clean hundreds of millions of dollars generated by its Business Affairs Component (BAC), a network consisting of predicate crimes such as dealing in conflict diamonds, and trafficking narcotics and weapons,” stated Darshan-Leitner.
Jammal Trust Bank was one piece of Hezbollah’s laundering system that was sanctioned by the US for its relationship with the Shi’ite terror group, and closed. Previously, the US has also taken legal action against Lebanese banks with Hezbollah and terrorist links for mega sums.
For a moment, Shurat Hadin complimented the IMF for “insisting on severe financial reforms, including capital controls and a revised 2020 budget before it grants a recent Lebanese request for up to $10 billion.”
However, the requested “fiscal reforms, and austerity measures, while crucial, do not address the real danger of why no IMF funds must be provided to Beirut while it remains under the control of Hezbollah,” said the letter. For example, Shurat Hadin said that the conditions do not require preventative measures “to ensure the aid reaches its intended recipients rather than redirected to Hezbollah through its web” of illegal enterprises.
Rather, the IMF must demand an end “to the dangers posed by Hezbollah’s position in the Lebanese government. Hezbollah’s control of the Lebanese banking system and the Lebanese Treasury must be terminated… the IMF must personally guarantee that none” of its funds will be embezzled by Hezbollah.
The letter threatens that; “The IMF is on notice that any funds it provides to Lebanon will be targeted by the victims of Hezbollah’s terrorism to enforce their court ordered judgments. Any banking institutions in Lebanon or abroad that transfers IMF funds to Hezbollah will be sued in relevant jurisdictions for aiding and abetting terrorism.”
It is unclear exactly how Shurat Hadin could enforce local country court’s judgments against IMF pass-through funds designated for Lebanon, but the NGO has shown a creative capacity in the past to seize pass-through funds meant for Iran or terror groups.