In the wake of a Politico report last month that the Obama administration dismantled an investigation into Hezbollah’s drug smuggling in order to secure the nuclear deal with Iran, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the formation of a team to investigate the terror group’s involvement in the drug trade, Politico reported Thursday.
According to a Justice Department statement, those making up the Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team (HFNT) will include investigators and prosecutors who will “begin by assessing the evidence in existing investigations,” including those of Project Cassandra, the program that was stymied by the Obama administration.
“The Justice Department will leave no stone unturned in order to eliminate threats to our citizens from terrorist organizations and to stem the tide of the devastating drug crisis,” Sessions said, explaining the impetus for the creation of the team. “In an effort to protect Americans from both threats, the Justice Department will assemble leading investigators and prosecutors to ensure that all Project Cassandra investigations as well as other related investigations, whether past or present, are given the needed resources and attention to come to their proper resolution. The team will initiate prosecutions that will restrict the flow of money to foreign terrorist organizations as well as disrupt violent international drug trafficking operations.”
Though the team will be overseen by the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, it will cooperate with the department’s National Security Division, United States Attorneys’ offices, as well as officials with the Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.
Matt Levitt reported last month that, in an apparent departure from the previous administration, the Trump administration “is clearly eager to counter Iran and sees Hezbollah as a key proxy for Tehran involved in many of what officials have called the Iranian regime’s ‘malign activities,” by seeking to disrupt Hezbollah’s activities in the Western Hemisphere.
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