Argentine Federal Police confirmed recently that they have apprehended a fundraising network enlisted by Hezbollah that operated in the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
The raid, carried out by the Financial Information Unit of the Argentine police focused on the al-Barakat clan, headed by Assad Ahmed Barakat, a group of Lebanese nationals living in Argentina, who are believed to be involved in money-laundering and financing acts of terrorism carried out by the Lebanese-based Shi’ite terrorist group backed by Iran.
Hezbollah has been linked to the 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, which killed 29, and the July 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85.
Authorities arrested 14 suspects and seized the group’s assets, estimated at some $10 million. According to local media reports, the raid was made possible largely due to American and Israeli intelligence.
This was the first time Argentina’s government targeted a Hezbollah fundraising network in the country.
A statement issued on Friday by the Financial Information Unit said the Barakat clan is suspected of smuggling, counterfeiting, falsifying documents, extortion, drug and trafficking, money-laundering and terrorist financing.
“In relation to this illegal act, it is suspected that it [the Barakat clan] would raise funds for the Lebanese Hezbollah organization,” the agency said.
Barakat has been designated a terrorist by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, meaning his assets are frozen there as well, and that he is unable to operate financially in the United States.
Earlier this year, the United States and Argentina agreed to work together to cut off Hezbollah funding networks and money-laundering that finance terrorism across Latin America.