A recent report reveals that the Obama White House, in a desperate attempt to appease the Ayatollahs in Iran, let Hezbollah off the hook. The report outlines how the DEA was on to Hezbollah’s illicit network of drug and arms trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities, yet the Obama administration stalled or blocked any prosecutions that would have disrupted the terror group’s nefarious activities so that Iran would agree to the nuclear deal. This stunning revelation adds more evidence to why the JCPOA was a bad deal.
For years Hezbollah built an extensive network in Latin America to raise money for its terrorist activities. Addressing Hezbollah’s illicit activities across the globe, but in particular the Western Hemisphere, has been a top priority for Congress for many years. Through hearings and legislation we have exposed the direct ties between Hezbollah and criminal groups in the region that allowed Hezbollah to amass nearly $1 billion annually. Yet the U.S. failed to take sufficient action to disrupt this massive flow of money, drugs, and arms that have made Hezbollah the most power terrorist group in the world.
In 2014, a GAO review noted that only two of 12 requirements that were mandated by the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act were being addressed. Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s activity in our hemisphere increased. In June 2017, an individual with alleged ties to the terrorist group was arrested in Paraguay and extradited to the U.S. That same month, another individual was arrested for attempting to provide support to Hezbollah in targeting the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Panama. These events followed the 2014 arrest of a Hezbollah operative in Peru, an Iranian-linked assassination attempt on the Saudi Ambassador in Washington in 2011, and the deadly terrorist attacks against two Jewish targets in Argentina in the 1990s. Moreover, the special prosecutor who uncovered Iran and Hezbollah’s role in the Argentina attacks was murdered in 2015.
Together with my colleagues, Chairman Cook of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee and Chairman Ros-Lehtinen of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, I have sent a letter to President Trump urging him to address the shortfalls that occurred under the Obama administration in terms of dismantling Hezbollah’s illicit activities. We in the House have provided the tools necessary to pursue Hezbollah, passing H.R. 3329, the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act, which includes Section 105 mandating a U.S. strategy to address Iran and Hezbollah’s networks in the Western Hemisphere and requiring the alignment of U.S. actions with our regional partners. We are prepared to do more to make up for years of negligence under the Obama White House that allowed these killers to go unbothered. And that’s just the way it is.