Hezbollah-funding Lebanese businessman pleads guilty to money laundering
search

Hezbollah-funding Lebanese businessman pleads guilty to money laundering

Kassim Tajideen, 63, of Beirut, admits to role in conspiracy to avoid US sanctions; will likely spend 5 years in prison

Supporters of the Hezbollah terror group raise their fists and cheer as they listen to a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, via a video link, during a rally marking Hezbollah Martyr's Day in Beirut, Lebanon, November 10, 2018. (AP/Bilal Hussein)
Supporters of the Hezbollah terror group raise their fists and cheer as they listen to a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, via a video link, during a rally marking Hezbollah Martyr's Day in Beirut, Lebanon, November 10, 2018. (AP/Bilal Hussein)

WASHINGTON — A Lebanese businessman accused of providing millions of dollars to the Hezbollah terror group pleaded guilty Thursday and admitted his role in a money-laundering conspiracy in an effort to evade US sanctions, the Justice Department said.

Kassim Tajideen, 63, of Beirut, was accused of conspiring with at least five other people to conduct over $50 million in transactions with US businesses, in violation of sanctions that barred him from doing business with US people and companies because of his support for Hezbollah.

Tajideen and the five other people, whose names weren’t revealed, also engaged in transactions outside the US that transmitted more than $1 billion through US financial institutions, federal prosecutors said.

Tajideen was arrested in Morocco and extradited to the United States in March 2017. He appeared Thursday in federal court in Washington, DC, and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, in violation of a federal law known as the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

“This Department of Justice has put a target on Hezbollah,” Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a statement announcing Tajideen’s conviction. “We are going to keep targeting Hezbollah and other terrorist groups and their supporters, and we are going to keep winning.”

As part of his plea deal, Tajideen is expected to serve five years in a US prison, prosecutors said. He is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

The US considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization. In October, the Justice Department created a new task force aimed at zeroing in on Hezbollah and four other transnational criminal organizations that it had declared as priorities for federal law enforcement.

Formed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in 1982 to fight Israel’s invasion of Beirut, Hezbollah has morphed into a powerful political player in Lebanon, running its own media and communication channels and providing government-like services to followers in its strongholds.

The Justice Department announcement came days after Israel announced an operation to dismantle cross-border attack tunnels it says were dug by Hezbollah.

read more:
comments