February 26, 2015 | Quote
The US Caught Two Members of Iran’s Lebanese Proxy Running an Amusement Park in Nigeria
The Fawazes were charged in Nigeria over their Hezbollah connections in 2013. While their businesses are still operating, it took the US Treasury nearly 2 years to sanction them.
Jonathan Schanzer, the vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former terror finance analyst for the US Treasury, says that the US might have waited to list the Fawazes and their businesses because they wanted a comprehensive idea of the size of their business network and its connection to US-designated groups.
“This story likely tipped off Treasury to a wider network that appears to have taken a year and a half to wrestle to the ground,” Schanzer told Business Insider.
Schanzer says that a Treasury listing of Hezbollah-linked entities may be a subtle way to maintaining pressure on the Lebanon-based group's main state sponsor: Iran. “On a broader level, we have seen increased congressional interest in going after Hezbollah because Treasury's hands are somewhat tied so long as the [nuclear negotiating] process drags on.” Listing these entities at this point digs into Hezbollah financing “without explicitly hitting Iran,” Schanzer says.
There's longstanding concern that Hezbollah has penetrated Nigeria. In May of 2013, a Hezbollah arms cache was found in northern Nigeria, while an illicit Iranian weapons shipment was impounded in a Nigerian port in 2010.
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