Wednesday, October 17, 2018

US designates Lebanon's Hezbollah a 'transnational crime organization' - Yoni Hersch and Israel Hayom Staff

by Yoni Hersch and Israel Hayom Staff

Shiite terrorist group, four other crime syndicates are a ‎‎"top transnational organized crime threats" ‎the U.S. plans to target with tougher measures, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says

The United States on Monday designated Lebanon's ‎Hezbollah and four other groups as international ‎crime organizations.‎

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions named the ‎Iranian-backed terrorist group, alongside Central ‎American street gang MS-‎‎13, Mexico's Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, the Sinaloa Cartel, an ‎international ‎organized crime ‎syndicate based in ‎Mexico, and Colombian drug cartel Clan ‎del Golfo as ‎‎"top transnational organized crime threats" that ‎Washington plans to target with tougher ‎investigations and prosecutions. ‎

A special team of "experienced international ‎narcotics trafficking, terrorism, organized crime, ‎and money laundering prosecutors" will investigate ‎individuals and networks providing support to ‎Hezbollah, Sessions said in a press conference.‎

‎"With this new task force in place, our efforts will ‎be more targeted and more effective than ever," ‎Sessions added, explaining that in 90 days task-‎force members will give him specific recommendations ‎‎"to prosecute these groups and ultimately take them ‎off of our streets."‎

The United States has in the past imposed several ‎rounds of sanctions on Hezbollah and officials ‎affiliated with the Shiite group, which the State ‎Department designated as a terrorist organization in ‎‎1997.‎

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announce the designation, Monday

Sessions described the latest designations as “our ‎next steps to carry out President [Donald] Trump’s ‎order to take MS-13 and other [transnational ‎criminal organizations] off of our streets.‎

‎"Taking on transnational criminal groups like the ‎cartels is a priority for this president and for his ‎administration. The same day I was sworn in as ‎attorney general, President Trump ordered me to ‎disrupt and dismantle these groups."‎

Session said the five organizations had been ‎identified by the FBI, Drug Enforcement ‎Administration, the Organized Crime and Drug ‎Enforcement Task Force, and the Justice Department’s ‎Criminal Division.‎

The special task force, headed by Deputy Attorney ‎General Rod Rosenstein, will "coordinate our efforts ‎and develop a plan to take each of these groups off ‎of our streets for good," he said. ‎

It will comprise specialized subcommittees, each led ‎by a prosecutor experienced in investigating and ‎prosecuting the target group.‎

The subcommittee on Hezbollah will be headed by Ilan ‎Graff, an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern ‎District of New York overseeing the prosecution of ‎two alleged Hezbollah members, the first Hezbollah ‎operatives to be charged with terrorism in the ‎United States, and staffed by members of the ‎Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team. ‎

‎"Transnational Criminal Organizations – whether they ‎are gangs, drug trafficking cartels or terrorist ‎groups – are a scourge," Rosenstein said Monday. ‎‎"They sow violence and sell poisonous drugs. They ‎bribe public officials and fuel corruption and they ‎terrorize law-abiding citizens."‎

Yoni Hersch and Israel Hayom Staff


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