Archive for the ‘Hezbollah and Iran’ category

Hezbollah ‘Settlers’ Changing Syria’s Demography Under Iranian Direction

May 4, 2018

by Benjamin Kerstein MAY 3, 2018 1:36 PM Algemeiner

Source Link: Hezbollah ‘Settlers’ Changing Syria’s Demography Under Iranian Direction

{Settlements in Syria? Where’s the outcry from the UN? – LS}

 

Hezbollah “settlers” are reportedly replacing the native Syrian population as part of a conscious plan to change the country’s demographics.

Under Iranian direction, the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group has been fighting on behalf of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime since the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011. It also dominates southern Lebanon, where it has established a massive terrorist infrastructure in order to threaten Israel.

According to a column in the Lebanese paper Al-Nahar written by Ahmad Ayyash and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Hezbollah’s “involvement in the Syria war is not confined to military action aimed at propping up the Syrian regime. [Its goals] extend much further than that, and have to do with an Iranian settlement project whose implementation began several years ago. The aim [of this project] is changing the demography [of Syria] by settling [it with members of] Iran-backed [Shi’ite] militias from Afghanistan, Lebanon, and other countries in the region.”

Ayyash accused the world of “ignoring the ongoing plan of demographic cleansing, as part of which tens of thousands of Syrians were transferred from their homes in Ghouta to northern Syria several days ago, and thousands of others left eastern Al-Qalamun, near Damascus, [as part of a move] ‘brokered by Russia,’”

“[These] tens of thousands of Syrians left their ancestral homes,” added Ayyash, “where their families had been living for generations.”

Ayyash attributed this policy directly to Iran, which is Hezbollah’s chief financier and uses the group as a proxy to influence events in Lebanon and Syria.

“The world is oblivious [to the fact] that Iran has been acting vigorously to fill the demographic vacuum [left by these Syrians],” Ayyash wrote, with Hezbollah “acting as the chief executive arm of this [project].”

Hezbollah, Ayyash asserted, was actively preventing Syrian refugees from returning to their homes. “Several weeks ago,” he says, “Al-Nahar received information that people from Al-Qusayr had appealed to the Syrian regime for permission to return to their properties in that town, and had received permission to do so. But when they reached the town, they found themselves facing Hezbollah militiamen, who are still militarily occupying the town, and who ordered them back, saying: ‘Whoever gave you permission [to return is welcome] to give you back your property.’”

The ambitions of Hezbollah’s settlement project are large, Ayyash noted. “According to the information [we received], Hezbollah is investing in developing thousands of acres in this area, known for its fertile fields, and will directly reap the profits,” he said.

“One of the most disturbing aspects of the Iranian plan in Syria,” he added, “was reported by our colleague, [Lebanese journalist] Randa Taqi Al-Din, in the dailyAl-Hayat. She cited French sources, who assessed that Hezbollah will transform from the ‘Lebanese Hezbollah’ into the ‘Syrian Hezbollah,’ because its members are currently settling in Syria along with the Iranians.”

Pro-Hezbollah Website Says Group Could Have 500,000 Rockets Pointed at Israel in a Year

February 16, 2018

by TheTower.org Staff | 02.15.18 4:45 pm

Source Link:
Pro-Hezbollah Website Says Group Could Have 500,000 Rockets Pointed at Israel in a Year

{Ouch! – LS}

A pro-Hezbollah website boasted that in a year, the Iran-backed terror group could have 500,000 rockets, which, according to an expert, would give Hezbollah the ability to “saturate Israel with rockets,”making the next war “nasty,” Adam Kredo reportedWednesday for the Washington Free Beacon.

An article at the Dahiya website, a Lebanese pro-Hezbollah site, claimed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rejected a request by Russian President Vladimir Putin to remove the 70,000 missiles Iran has deployed across Syria. Assad, according to the article, has ordered his army to build and camouflage missile silos to allow Hezbollah to build its rocket arsenal in Syria alone to reach 500,000.

“The ability for Iran to move weaponry into Syria is only limited by Iran’s transportation fleet and what they have available in their arsenal,” Jonathan Schanzer, a former Treasury terror financing expert and currently senior vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told the Free Beacon. He added that this makes matters difficult for Israel as “Iran is exploiting the fog of war and it’s working.”

“The strategy may now be emerging: saturate Israel with rockets from two northern fronts and overwhelm their air defenses,” Schanzer assessed. “Israel has some big decisions ahead. The longer they wait to neutralize this threat, the more nasty that two-front rocket arsenal becomes.”

 

Trump administration, pushing back on Iran’s influence, slaps fresh sanctions on Hezbollah

February 2, 2018

By Adam Shaw | Fox News February 2, 2018

Source: Trump administration, pushing back on Iran’s influence, slaps fresh sanctions on Hezbollah

{Iran will make up the difference and further deprive it’s already suffering people from economic recovery. – LS}

The Trump administration announced Friday that it was slapping fresh sanctions on Hezbollah-linked individuals and businesses in Africa and the Middle East — a move to limit not only the operations of the terrorist group, but also Iran’s influence in the region.

The Treasury announced that it is targeting a network of companies and individuals in Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia and other countries linked to Hezbollah financier Adham Tabaja.

The sanctions freeze assets in the U.S. and prevent Americans from doing business with any of the six individuals and seven companies. The U.S. has designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization that also plays a major political role in Lebanon.

Senior officials told the Associated Press that it is the “first wave” of a campaign to put pressure on the Iranian-linked organization. In a statement, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin described the group as “responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans.”

“It is also Iran’s primary proxy used to undermine legitimate Arab governments across the Middle East,” he said. “The Administration is determined to expose and disrupt Hezballah’s networks, including those across the Middle East and West Africa, used to fund their illicit operations.”

Experts say that there is a sense that the administration is attempting to re-invigorate global efforts to push back against Hezbollah, while walking a fine line so it does not destabilize Lebanon.

“There is a position by the administration that they want to do it so as not to destabilize Lebanon’s economy and banking sector and do it in a way that targets global aspect of Hezbollah and in a way that minimizes Lebanon’s exposure,” Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the author of “The Third Lebanon War” told Fox News.

The U.S. estimates Iran sends Hezbollah about $700 million a year and officials say that Hezbollah has become Iran’s main proxy in the Arabic-speaking world. The U.S. is particularly concerned about Hezbollah’s presence in Syria and Yemen. Badran warned against making an “artificial” distinction between Hezbollah and Iran, arguing that it is largely an extension of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Most of the individuals targeted had not been publicly known to be financiers of Hezbollah, nor are they prominent names in Lebanon.

Report: Hezbollah May Use Suicide Ships in Next War with Israel

January 30, 2018

by Deborah Danan 29 Jan 2018 Via Breitbart

Source: Report: Hezbollah May Use Suicide Ships in Next War with Israel

{While the Iran profits in trade with the EU, Iran will soon be knocking on their door in the Mediterranean. – LS}

TEL AVIV – Lebanese terror group Hezbollah may use suicide ships in its next war with Israel, R.-Adm. Prof. Shaul Chorev told the Jerusalem Post.

“Hezbollah will not need to equip themselves with ships like Israel, but we must assume they will use asymmetric warfare to challenge Israeli technology like land-to-sea missiles or suicide ships like you see in Yemen,” Chorev, a former deputy chief of naval operations, said.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, led by Iran, have deployed suicide bombers in small boats to blow up large Saudi vessels in their fight against a Saudi-led coalition.

Chorev added that the next war with Hezbollah “could see a focus on the sea” with the terror group targeting “Israeli strategic assets.”

More than 90% of Israel’s imports arrive by sea, yet, Chorev said, the government and the public are unaware of the extent of the threat posed to maritime targets such as natural gas drilling rigs. The IDF believes Hezbollah is in possession of long-range missiles that can hit the rigs.

According to Chorev, by exploiting the civil war in Syria, Iran has “upgrade[d] its status in the region to almost that of a regional superpower.”

{A bit much, but no one can deny Iran has expanded its influence in the region. – LS}

Tehran “is on the verge of reaching the Mediterranean, including the use of Syrian ports by the Iranian navy,” he said, adding that Iranian control of eastern Mediterranean ports was a “real risk for Israel.”

It is therefore incumbent upon Jerusalem to persuade Washington and Moscow to do everything in their power to stop Iran’s navy from becoming further entrenched in Syria, he said.

“The Russians have come into the Middle East taking over from the Americans who have neglected the eastern Mediterranean,” Chorev said.

{I wouldn’t be too quick to place the blame on us Americans, Mr. Chorev. – LS}

Did Obama Tip Off Iran to Israeli Plan To Take Out World’s Premier Terrorist?

January 12, 2018

Did Obama Tip Off Iran to Israeli Plan To Take Out World’s Premier Terrorist? FrontPage MagazineAri Lieberman, January 12, 2018

We thought the Obama administration could stoop no lower when it was revealed that the administration transferred $1.7 billion in untraceable cash to the Islamic Republic as ransom for the release of four Americans hostages they were holding. We were wrong. In its twilight weeks, the administration gave its consent to allow the Iranians to receive 116 metric tons of natural uranium from Russia as compensation for its export of tons of reactor coolant. According to experts familiar with the transaction, the uranium could be enriched to weapons-grade sufficient for the production of at least 10 nuclear bombs

If you thought that the administration’s betrayal of America’s security could go no further, you were wrong. Last month Politico, not known as a bastion of conservatism, published a bombshell 50-page exposé detailing the Obama administration’s efforts to delay, hinder and ultimately shut down a highly successful DEA operation – codenamed Project Cassandra – aimed at tracking and thwarting Hezbollah drug trafficking, arms trafficking and money laundering schemes. As a result, Hezbollah continued to import drugs into the United States, continued to provide anti-U.S. insurgents with deadly EFPs and continued to launder drug money to the tune of billions.

If you thought that was the end of the story, you were wrong. It seems that with each passing day, another layer of deceit and betrayal committed by the Obama administration is uncovered. The latest Obama scandal involves a reported effort by the administration to thwart an Israeli operation to liquidate Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani. 

The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida reported that three years ago, Israel was on the verge of liquidating Soleimani near Damascus but the Obama administration tipped off Teheran of Israel’s plans. Soleimani is no ordinary general. He is arguably the world’s premier terrorist and is commander of Iran’s Quds Force, a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, responsible for its overseas mischief-making. Where there is drugs, misery and conflict, it’s a sure bet that Soleimani and his Quds Force are involved.

The elimination of Soleimani would have been a tremendous coup for the West, on par with or perhaps surpassing the assassination of Imad Mughniyah, chief of Hezbollah’s special operations. But the Obama administration, in its sycophantic zeal to curry favor with the mullahs, sabotaged the operation.

Of course, the facts alleged by Al-Jarida are just allegations and have not been confirmed but there is ample reason to believe the veracity of the claim. First, this would not the first time that the Obama administration betrayed an Israeli covert operation.

In 2012, the Obama administration leaked damaging information that inexplicably sought to sabotage a burgeoning strategic alliance between Israel and Azerbaijan. Such an alliance would have enabled Israel to seek alternate bases in close proximity to Iran from which it could conduct military operations including surveillance and rescue missions, refueling and maintenance and even direct military strikes. The embarrassing disclosure shed unwanted light on a covert military alliance that would have greatly enhanced Israel’s strategic capabilities vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic.

Then again in 2013, Israeli officials bitterly complained to the Obama administration over leaks sourced to administration officials that the Israeli Air Force had struck a military base near the Syrian port city of Latakia. The Israelis termed the leak “scandalous” and bitterly noted that it was not the first time that administration officials had publicly linked Israel to attacks aimed at preventing arms from falling into the hands of Hezbollah terrorists. At the time, the Israelis were attempting to keep a low profile but the administration’s leaks blew everything and Israel’s involvement could no longer be concealed.

But perhaps the most intriguing validation of the Kuwaiti newspaper’s allegation emerged from an unlikely source, a remarkable twitter exchange between New York Times columnist Bret Stephens and Obama’s former U.S. National Security spokesman, Tommy Vietor.

Stephens asked Obama’s National Security Adviser (and former aspiring fiction scribe) Ben Rhodes if there was any validity to the story. Tellingly, the normally talkative Rhodes refused to answer but Vietor chimed in to offer some revealing insight, calling the story unsubstantiated and noting the Obama administration does not condone assassinations.

Stephens hit back noting that the administration utilized SEAL teams and drone strikes to liquidate America’s enemies. Now here’s where it gets interesting. Vietor differentiated between Osama bin Laden and Qassem Soleimani referring to the latter as an “Iranian political leader,” and added that “an assassination of QS by Israel would be destabilizing to put it mildly.”

So there you have it. A top former Obama administration official, intimately involved with peddling Obama’s deleterious Iran policy, believes that Qassam Soleimani is a politician whose elimination from the scene would be “destabilizing.” Try selling that arrant rubbish to 470,000 dead Syrians.

Congress Demands DOJ Turn Over All Docs Related to Obama Scheme to Nix Hezbollah Terror Investigation

December 21, 2017

Congress Demands DOJ Turn Over All Docs Related to Obama Scheme to Nix Hezbollah Terror Investigation, Washinton Free Beacon , December 21, 2017

Fighters of the Shiite Hezbollah movement / Getty Images

U.S. drug enforcement agents who spoke to Politico about the matter accused the Obama administration of derailing an investigation into Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and money laundering efforts that began in 2008 under the Bush administration.

The investigation centered on Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militants who allegedly participated in the illicit drug network, which was subject to U.S. wiretaps and undercover operations.

Hezbollah is believed to have been laundering at least $200 million per month just in the United States, according to the report.

*********

Congress instructed the Department of Justice on Thursday to turn over all documents and communications that may be related to newly disclosed efforts by the Obama administration to handicap an investigation into the terror group Hezbollah and its Iranian benefactors, according to a letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The letter represents the first salvo in a new investigation by congressional leaders into allegations senior Obama administration officials thwarted a decade-long Drug Enforcement Agency investigation into Hezbollah’s illicit operations.

The Obama administration, in what congressional insiders described to the Free Beacon as a “potentially criminal” enterprise, interfered with the DEA’s investigation into Hezbollah drug activities in order to avoid angering the terror group’s chief patron Iran and preserve the landmark nuclear deal.

“I’ve long believed that the Obama administration could not have done any more to bend over backwards to appease the Iranian regime, yet news that the Obama administration killed the investigation into a billion dollar drug ring that lined the terrorist group Hezbollah’s pockets in order to save its coveted Iran deal may very well take the cake,” DeSantis said.

“Hezbollah is a brutal terrorist group with American blood on its hands and it would be unconscionable for American policy to deliberately empower such a nefarious group,” he said.

Congressional leaders have begun a formal investigation into the matter and petitioned the DOJ to hand over “all documents and communications” that may shine light on “interference with the DEA’s law enforcement efforts against Hezbollah,” according to a letter sent by Reps. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) and Jim Jordan (R., Ohio.).

“We have a responsibility to evaluate whether these allegations are true, and if so, did the administration undermine U.S. law enforcement and compromise U.S. national security,” the lawmakers wrote to Sessions, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Free Beacon.

The lawmakers are requesting the DOJ hand over to Congress all materials relating to a DEA operation known as Project Cassandra, which Politico first reported was part of an effort to investigate Hezbollah’s drug activities across Latin America.

The lawmakers also are demanding files and communications related to other Hezbollah investigations, including, but not limited to, Operation Titan, Operation Perseus, and the Iran-Hezbollah Super Facilitator Initiative, according to the letter.

DeSantis and Jordan also have requested DOJ produce documents related to key individuals linked to these investigations, including those in Hezbollah’s inner circle.

Additionally, the lawmakers are seeking “all documents and communications referring or relating to the potential designation of Hezbollah as a Transnational Criminal Organization,” as well as, “all documents referring or relating to efforts to prosecute targets related to Hezbollah through the” RICO Act.

DOJ must provide Congress with these communications and documents no latter than 5 p.m. on Jan. 8, 2018.

Lawmakers also have required DOJ brief them no later than Jan. 12, 2018, on the matter.

The request for information marks the first investigatory effort by lawmakers since Politico first disclosed that the Obama administration may have thwarted DEA investigations into Hezbollah as part of an effort to avoid upsetting Iran.

Multiple sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about the matter described the Hezbollah meddling as one part of a larger Obama administration effort to overlook Iran’s global terror operations.

Congress is particularly interested to learn whether key senior Obama administration officials, including former National Security Council staffer Ben Rhodes, were involved in meddling with the Hezbollah operation as part of an effort to preserve diplomatic relations with Iran and pave the way towards the nuclear deal.

The investigation by DeSantis and Jordan is being undertaken under the wider umbrella of oversight efforts into the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Iran that led to the nuclear deal.

Congressional officials and others have long maintained the Obama administration misled lawmakers and the American people about the nature of the deal in order to ensure its survival.

In addition to the latest information on the Hezbollah investigation, the Obama administration has been accused of helping Iran skirt international sanctions and providing Tehran with multiple cash infusions to ensure it remained at the bargaining table.

U.S. drug enforcement agents who spoke to Politico about the matter accused the Obama administration of derailing an investigation into Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and money laundering efforts that began in 2008 under the Bush administration.

The investigation centered on Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militants who allegedly participated in the illicit drug network, which was subject to U.S. wiretaps and undercover operations.

Hezbollah is believed to have been laundering at least $200 million per month just in the United States, according to the report

Hizballah’s Firm Grip Over Lebanon Fuels Region’s Sectarian Strife

November 15, 2017

Hizballah’s Firm Grip Over Lebanon Fuels Region’s Sectarian Strife, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Yaakov Lappin,November 14, 2017

Chief Iranian proxy Hizballah has a firm grip over Lebanon, and its bloody intervention in Syria was instrumental in preserving the brutal Assad regime. Yet Hizballah’s meddling in other regions of the Middle East usually does not receive as much attention.

That changed drastically earlier this month, when Saudi Arabia publicly accused the Shi’ite terrorist organization of firing a ballistic missile at its capital, Riyadh, from Yemen.

Saudi Arabia is alarmed at the rapid expansion of Iran and its proxies. It is leading a coalition of Sunni states in a war against the Iranian-supported Shi’ite Houthi radical organization, Ansar Allah, which has taken over parts of Yemen.

“It was an Iranian missile, launched by Hizballah from territory occupied by the Houthis in Yemen,” charged Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. A Saudi air defense battery shot the missile down before it struck Riyadh’s airport, but the incident has seen Saudi- Iranian tensions, which were already high, spike.

A United States Air Force source has reportedly confirmed the Saudi information about the Iranian origins of the missile.

Iran denied the Saudi accusation, and played down its links with the Houthis. But this denial flies in the face of mounting evidence of an important Hizballah and Iranian role in assisting Ansar Allah in Yemen.

Some of this evidence comes from Hizballah itself, or more precisely, its unofficial mouthpiece in Lebanon, the Al-Akhbar newspaper. Editor Ibrahim Al-Amin published a boastful article in July 2017 detailing Hizballah’s spread across the region.

“In Yemen, Hizbullah has become a direct partner in strengthening the military capabilities of the Houthi Ansar Allah, who consider Hizballah to be their truthful ally,” Al-Amin wrote.

The same article proudly said that in Iraq, Hizballah’s “experts are present in the biggest operations rooms … [Hassan] Nasrallah serves as the commander of the Popular Mobilization Units [the Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias] in Iraq.”

Hizballah’s activities around the Middle East have become a controversial topic in Lebanon, where a portion of the population opposes its monopoly on political and military power, its militant ideology, and Iran’s proxy control of the country.

Last year, Future TV, a station owned by the recently retired Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (who quit in protest of Iran’s takeover of Lebanon), broadcast what it said was a video of a Hizballah operative providing military-terrorist training to Houthi fighters.

“So I have (for example) the assassination, God willing, of the head of the Saudi Border Guard,” the Hizballah operative says in the video. “We take a group, a special unit, it goes in, assassinates, kills and plants a large bomb. This is what we call a special operation. I have a special operation in Riyadh”.

At this stage in the video, the Hizballah member briefing the Houthis is interrupted with a question: “[Is this] a suicide operation?”

He replies: “Possibly a martyrdom operation. We do not call it suicide. We call it a special operation.”

An examination of the flag used by Ansar Allah finds that its red and green colors are influenced by the Iranian flag, and more importantly, the motto etched on the flag: “Death to America, Death to Israel, A Curse Upon The Jews, Victory to Islam” is inspired by official Iranian mottos.

The Houthis have been influenced by Hizballah in more than one way, said Ely Karmon, a senior research scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel.

“The group’s use of militant anashid (jihadist anthems) in its videos further portrays it as more in line with Hizballah’s models of ‘resistance,'” he told the IPT. “Images depicting Houthi fighters with the sun as a background further draw a parallel to other Shi’ite jihadist groups, giving the Houthis spiritual legitimacy within the context of a Shi’ite jihadist organization.”

Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, the current Houthi leader, delivers speeches in a style inspired by Hizballah’s Nasrallah, Karmon said.

Houthi leaders also appointed a prominent Iranian-educated religious figure with close links to the Islamic Republic as the top Islamic authority in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a.

A May 2015 Financial Times report, “Lebanon’s Hizballah and Yemen’s Houthis open up on links,” cited Hizballah members saying they have “played a more active role on the ground in Yemen. A Houthi official in Beirut said relations with the Lebanese movement span over a decade, while a Hizballah commander said Houthis and Hizballah trained together for the past 10 years in Iran, then in Lebanon and in Yemen.”

The report added that Hizballah helped create the Houthi Al-Masira television channel, which is based in Beirut’s southern suburbs, a district under Hizballah control.

Earlier this year, Karmon assessed that “[a] physical Iranian presence based on a strategic cooperation with the Houthis, both ground and naval,” in Yemeni ports on the Red Sea, as well as control over other strategic waterways “represent a direct threat to Israel’s security and interests.”The Houthi takeover of Yemen’s capital and other regions increased Shi’ite Iran’s influence there, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported.

Based on publicly available information, it seems safe to conclude that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps uses Hizballah to strengthen the Houthis militarily in Yemen, and to help Iran increase its influence over this poor, war-torn state, which is also experiencing a humanitarian disaster on a grand scale due to the ongoing conflict.

Hizballah’s role as a regional proliferator of terrorism, radicalism, and high-level operational capabilities is a constant threat to the Middle East and beyond.

Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the Israel correspondent for IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence.