Hezbollah supporter sent to prison in US

Hezbollah supporter sent to prison in US

Elad Benari

Lebanese businessman designated as financial supporter of Hezbollah sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to forfeit $50 million.

Hezbollah supporters

A Lebanese businessman designated by US authorities as an important financial supporter of the Hezbollah terrorist organization was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to forfeit $50 million, the Justice Department said Thursday, according to AFP.

Kassim Tajideen, 63, pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to launder money as part of a scheme to evade US sanctions.

He was named a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in May 2009 by the Treasury Department based on tens of millions of dollars in financial support given to Hezbollah.

In a plea, Tajideen admitted to conspiring with at least five other people to conduct more than $50 million in transactions with US businesses, in violation of prohibitions barring his involvement with US persons or companies.

“His sentencing and the $50 million forfeiture in this case are just the latest public examples of the Department of Justice’s ongoing efforts to disrupt and dismantle Hezbollah and its support networks,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski, according to AFP.

Tajideen, who operated a network of businesses in Lebanon and Africa, was extradited to the United States in March 2017 after his arrest overseas.

Hezbollah has been a US designated terrorist group since 1997 and is regularly sanctioned by Washington.

Last month, the US Treasury placed two Hezbollah members of Lebanon’s parliament on its sanctions blacklist, marking the first time Washington has taken aim at the Iran-allied group’s elected politicians.

Last October, President Donald Trump signed new sanctions targeting Hezbollah.

A week earlier, five groups, including Hezbollah, were designated as transnational criminal organizations to target with tougher investigations and prosecutions.

Before that, the Treasury sanctioned one of the financiers of Hezbollah and its representative to Iran, as well as five entities based in Europe.

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