Silvia Casagrande: The links between Hezbollah and organised crime
“This chance could be a wasted opportunity to investigate and confront the international Hezbollah’s activities” © AFP
Silvia Casagrande: The links between Hezbollah and organised crime
Last updated: May 6, 2013
Silvia Casagrande: The links between Hezbollah and organised crime

“This chance could be a wasted opportunity to investigate and confront the international Hezbollah’s activities”

The refined business efficiency of Hezbollah is opening up in all its complexity with growing concerns over its links with worldwide organised crime.

The survival of any organisation depends not just on its glory but also much needed funds. Hezbollah is no exception, and the need for financing has med the Islamic militant group stretch its efforts from the Middle East to the Americas in order to fuel its activities with a variety of illicit traffics and practices, as has been uncovered by many journalists and security experts in recent time.

The arrest of many Hezbollah members behind numerous illicit activities from money laundry to human trafficking across the American continent is a new topic of concern for worldwide security for the extended web they established so far. Popping into their local Lebanese bank branch to ask for financial advice, making deposits from illicit revenues and even engaging as far as in Nicaragua to build relationships with local crime organisers are all emerging as widespread Hezbollah practices that worry Western and Middle Eastern countries alike.

In detail, it seems Hezbollah has increased drug trafficking, already an accustomed practice since the 1970s, opted for new fraudulent activities such as reselling stolen goods or faking payment transactions across the US, and even adjusted the principle of “prostitution” with a peculiar interpretation of Islam to depict the practice as “temporary marriage” and therefore as a more respectable activity to increment their revenues.

However, despite all the arrests and uncovered links with South American cartels and organised crime groups, it seems it has not just been business as usual for Hezbollah in the last months. Due to the Syrian unrest and the weaker position of Assad after months of internal turmoil, even Hezbollah’s activities have been disturbed and maybe this year, more than ever before, is trying to save money for “its rainy days,” becoming more vulnerable.

In fact it seems Hezbollah now might have to adjust its position and reshuffle its activities to concentrate on its positions at home, which might offer them a chance to tackle the problem they pose with their illicit traffics in many countries. However, many countries where they operate appear reluctant to take actions against the organisation for fears of being involved in the “American style” war against terrorism, and end up glued to their policies. For this reason, this chance could be a wasted opportunity to investigate and confront the international Hezbollah’s activities, whose business might become more and more unpredictable in the near future.

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