The United States Leads Multilateral Efforts on Countering Hizballah’s Global Terrorist and Other Illicit Activities
On June 22-23, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism and the U.S. Department of Justice hosted the eleventh meeting of the Law Enforcement Coordination Group on countering Hizballah’s global terrorist and other illicit activities. More than 100 law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and financial regulators from over 30 governments across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas participated in this meeting at Europol’s Headquarters in The Hague, along with INTERPOL and the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law.
The U.S. delegation comprised of State, DOJ, National Counterterrorism Center, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury representatives.
Understanding Hizballah’s Extensive Financial and Procurement Networks Around the World
This year’s LECG focused on Hizballah’s financial state and the various schemes and mechanisms it utilizes to raise and move funds, a timely and critical subject as Hizballah adapts in response to Lebanese and Iranian economic struggles. Officials highlighted how Hizballah leverages various funding sources to maintain its global terrorist activities and infrastructure, including receiving direct financial support from Iran, generating revenue from oil networks, and leveraging formal and informal financial systems.
Countries also briefed on how Hizballah maintains financial and procurement networks across the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas to secure sufficient funding and remain a resilient organization. Attendees discussed Hizballah’s ongoing efforts to smuggle and procure weapons, dual use technology, and drugs in and through the Middle East. Officials also noted Hizballah’s ability to secure donations from supporters and move funds through charities, including in Europe and elsewhere. Additionally, participants emphasized Hizballah’s complex financial and money laundering schemes through both front companies and legitimate businesses across Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
Promoting Information Sharing and International Coordination to Restrict Hizballah’s Operating Space Globally
The meeting notably featured case studies on Hizballah’s recent financial and procurement activities, as well as governmental actions to disrupt these schemes. Case studies included: Hizballah’s oil smuggling networks; al Qard al-Hassan (AQAH), a major Hizballah-linked financial institution; Hizballah financier Nazem Ahmad; and several recent U.S. and international prosecutions of Hizballah members and supporters.
Through these case studies, officials shared lessons learned and best practices on how to leverage law enforcement and financial tools to restrict Hizballah’s destabilizing activities. Attendees also highlighted how information sharing and international coordination with other countries enabled their governments to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate Hizballah-related cases more effectively.
Participants also emphasized how more countries designating, banning, or otherwise restricting Hizballah’s activities amplifies a unified message from the international community that Hizballah will be held accountable for their actions. Attendees discussed how 14 governments across Europe, South America, Central America, and the Pacific have taken these types of actions since 2019 and how building international momentum on these efforts is key to restrict Hizballah’s global operating space.
Participants acknowledged how the LECG is an invaluable multilateral avenue to bolster international coordination and stressed the need for continued collaboration in countering Hizballah. The next global LECG will convene again in the summer of 2024, with regional sessions taking place later this year.
About the Author: John Yim is a Strategist in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism.