1 The Long War Journal: US designates two Hezbollah operatives in Venezuela as terrorists
Written by Bill Roggio on June 19, 2008 1:30 AM to 1 The Long War Journal
Available online at: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/06/us_designates_two_he.php
The US Treasury Department has added two Venezuelans to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists for their support of Hezbollah. Ghazi Nasr al Din, a Venezuelan diplomat, and Fawzi Kan'an, a businessman, both provide support for the Lebanese-based terror group.
Ghazi Nasr al Din was born in Lebanon who currently serves as a Venezuelan diplomat and the president of a Shia Islamic center. "Nasr al Din served until recently as Charge d' Affaires at the Venezuelan Embassy in Damascus, Syria, and was subsequently appointed the Director of Political Aspects at the Venezuelan Embassy in Lebanon," the US Treasury reported in a press release.
Nasr al Din used his diplomatic cover to meet with senior Hezbollah leaders in Lebanon and fundraise for the terror group. "Nasr al Din has counseled Hezbollah donors on fundraising efforts and has provided donors with specific information on bank accounts where the donors' deposits would go directly to Hezbollah." He also helped Hezbollah operatives get to Iran to "attend a training course."
Fawzi Kan'an is businessman who runs two Venezuela-based travel agencies. He was born in Lebanon but is a naturalized Venezuelan.
Kan'an is described as "a significant provider of financial support to Hezbollah" who also uses his business to funnel money to Lebanon and assist in the movement of operatives.
Treasury also implicates Kan'an as an operational planner who may have plotted kidnappings and terror attacks. "Kan'an has also traveled with other Hezbollah members to Iran for training," Treasury stated.
His two businesses, the Biblos Travel Agency the Hilal Travel Agency, have been designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entities.
The Wednesday announcement by the Treasury Department was the first direct link by the US government between the nation of Venezuela and Hezbollah. "It is extremely troubling to see the Government of Venezuela employing and providing safe harbor to Hezbollah facilitators and fundraisers," said Adam J. Szubin, the Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury Department.
Hezbollah has long had inroads into South America. Hezbollah has used the tri-border region between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay to recruit, train, raise and launder money, and plot attacks.
In 1994, Hezbollah bombed a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Eight-five people were killed and more than 200 wounded in the bombing.
Argentina implicated Hezbollah and Iran in the attacks. In October 2006, Argentine prosecutors charged former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, former Hezbollah military commander Imad Mugniyah, and six others with plotting and executing the attacks. Mugniyah was killed in a car bombing in Damascus, Syria, in February 2008.
"We deem it proven that the decision to carry out an attack July 18, 1994 on the AMIA (the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association, a Jewish charities association headquarters in Buenos Aires) was made by the highest authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran which directed Hezbollah to carry out the attack," said Argentine chief prosecutor Alberto Nisman.