Some 25,000 Lebanese nationals live in the Tri-Border. American officials say Middle East terror groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah are receiving huge amounts of money from the region’s illegal activities. So much that it has become a very important source of terrorist support. How important?
“It’s critically important from the standpoint of consistency,” said Dennis Lormel, an investigator with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “The tri-border area is probably the most lucrative area for Hezbollah outside of the state sponsors.”
“We had agents specifically assigned who overlooked Hezbollah and they recognized very quickly that they needed to focus on the Tri-border area,” Lormel said. “Certainly with the corruption in the area and all the demographics and logistics, the Tri-border are is a very attractive area to operate from.”
Authorities say that from the Tri-Border, Hezbollah launched the terrorist attacks that destroyed the Israeli embassy and the Jewish Cultural Center in Argentina in the 1990s, killing 114 people.
The situation has drawn the attention of Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who says hundreds of millions of dollars coming out of the region is being laundered through New York banks.
“Huge Flow of Money”
“Between $50 million to $500 million goes to Hamas and Hezbollah,” Morgenthau said. “On a quiet day, $4 trillion goes through New York, so it’s relatively easy to hide a million or a billion dollars when you have this huge flow of money.”
In Paraguay, however, Hezbollah is not considered a terrorist organization, and there are no laws against donating to terror groups.
This afternoon I’ll be on The Gathering Storm‘s podcast at 3:30PM Eastern. The call-in number is (646) 915-9870. WC of The Gathering Storm blog and Always on Watch are the hosts.