Monday, March 29, 2010

Is Hezbollah Ramping Up in the US?

In the last five months U.S. federal authorities have charged several men, some U.S. citizens, of aiding Hezbollah, a State Department designated terrorist group. These arrests have terrorism analysts wondering if Hezbollah is ramping up its U.S. operations.

The first indictments were handed down in Philadelphia in November when four men were charged with conspiracy to support Hezbollah. One of the suspects - Moussa Ali Hamdan is a U.S national from Brooklyn - and all four remain at large. They were charged with conspiracy to export some 1200 colt machine guns to a port in Syria and also with conspiracy to provide material support to Hezbollah through proceeds made from the sale of fake passports and counterfeit money.

Only last month another four men were charged in Miami for illegally exporting electronics goods to a shopping center in Paraguay, which U.S. authorities say is used to funnel money to Hezbollah. According to the US Treasury Department, both the shopping center and its co-owner Muhammad Yusif Abdallah give a portion of the center's profits to Hezbollah. Abdallah is believed by the US to be a senior leader for Hezbollah in South America.

Just last summer, David Cohen, New York City's Deputy Police Commissioner on Intelligence warned that Hezbollah should not be underestimated. Cohen told a terrorism conference in Manhattan that Hezbollah " probably the most capable and disciplined terrorist organization in the world." Cohen said Hezbollah is closely linked, and works under the direction of the Iranian intelligence services and "poses a continuous danger to New York City."

Hezbollah's spokesman Ibrahim Mousawi, reached for comment in Beirut, asked that questions be emailed to him. Despite several emails he has not responded.