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Altruism 1 fans. Tristan 4 fans. ADE: Middle East 30 tracks - 98 fans. Heavy Sheet. Avalon , Illumination , Xerox. Blocked Efforts, Missed OpportunitiesAsher knew how to successfully implode the financial underpinnings of an illicit, state-sponsored trafficking network because he'd already done it, just a few years earlier, as the Bush administration's point man on North Korea. In Beirut, Asher and his team worked with an Israeli intelligence operation to penetrate the Lebanese bank's inner workings and diagram its Byzantine money flows.
They gathered evidence showing how Joumaa Ayman Saied Joumaa Accused drug kingpin and financier whose vast network allegedly smuggled tons of cocaine into the U. Much of the freshly laundered cash, the records show, was then wired to about U. Task force agents also documented how Safieddine was a financial liaison providing Hezbollah '-- and, of potentially huge significance, Iran '-- with VIP services at the bank, including precious access to the international financial system in violation of U.
The Manhattan prosecutors agreed to file criminal charges against the bank and two senior officials that they hoped to turn into cooperating witnesses against Hezbollah and Safieddine, several participants said.
But the Justice Department never filed the criminal charges, and also stymied investigations into other financial institutions and individuals that task force agents targeted as part of the planned RICO RICO case The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act increases the severity of penalties for crimes committed in as part of organized crime.
The Obama White House said privately that it feared a broader assault on Lebanese financial institutions would destabilize the country. But without the threat of prison time, complicit bank officials clammed up. And without pressure on the many other financial institutions in Lebanon and the region, Hezbollah simply moved its banking business elsewhere.
Soon afterward, Kelly said, he ran into one of the unit's top prosecutors and asked if there was ''something going on with the White House that explains why we can't get a criminal filing.
Justice Department officials involved, including then-U. Attorney Preet Bharara and other prosecutors, declined requests to discuss the bank case or others involving Hezbollah. A month later, prosecutors indicted Joumaa, accusing him of working with Mexico's Zetas cartel and Colombian and Venezuelan suppliers to smuggle 85 tons of cocaine into the U. Task force agents hoped those cases would win them the political support needed to attack the Hezbollah criminal network and its patrons in Tehran.
Instead, the opposite appeared to be happening. DEA officials weren't included in the Justice and FBI news conference on the assassination plot, and claim it was because the Obama White House wanted to downplay the drug-terror connection. And Joumaa's indictment didn't mention Hezbollah once, despite DEA evidence of his connections to the group dating back to By the end of , senior officials at the Justice Department's National Security and Criminal divisions, and at the State Department and National Security Council, had shut down, derailed or delayed numerous other Hezbollah-related cases with little or no explanation, according to Asher, Kelly, Maltz and other current and former participating officials.
Agents discovered ''an entire Quds force network'' in the U. In Philadelphia, the FBI-led task force had spent two years bolstering its case claiming that Safieddine had overseen an effort to purchase 1, military-grade assault rifles bound for Lebanon, with the help of Kelly and the special narcoterrorism prosecutors in New York. Now, they had two key eyewitnesses. One would identify Safieddine Abdallah Safieddine Hezbollah's longtime envoy to Iran who allegedly oversaw the group's ''Business Affairs Component'' involved in international drug trafficking.
And an agent and prosecutor had flown to a remote Asian hotel and spent four days persuading another eyewitness to testify about Safieddine's role in an even bigger weapons and drugs conspiracy, multiple former law enforcement officials confirmed to POLITICO. Convinced they had a strong case, the New York prosecutors sent a formal prosecution request to senior Justice Department lawyers in Washington, as required in such high-profile cases.
Justice Department officials declined to comment on the case. Kelly had been searching for an appropriate DEA code name to give to collaborating agencies so they could access and contribute to task force investigative files. Now the project had its name: Cassandra. Standing Down on HezbollahAfter Obama won reelection in November , the administration's pushback on Hezbollah drug cases became more overt, and now seemed to be emanating directly from the White House, according to task force members, some former U.
One reason, they said, was Obama's choice of a new national security team. The appointment of John Kerry as secretary of state was widely viewed as a sign of a redoubled effort to engage with Iran. Obama's appointment of Brennan '-- the public supporter of cultivating Hezbollah moderates '-- as CIA director, and the president's choice of the Justice Department's top national security lawyer, Lisa Monaco Lisa Monaco Lisa Monaco replaced John Brennan as the White House counterterrorism and homeland security adviser.
Another factor was the victory of reformist candidate Hassan Rouhani as president of Iran that summer, which pushed the talks over a possible nuclear deal into high gear. The administration's eagerness for an Iran deal was broadcast through so many channels, task force members say, that political appointees and career officials at key agencies like Justice, State and the National Security Council felt unspoken pressure to view the task force's efforts with skepticism.
One former senior Justice Department official confirmed to POLITICO that some adverse decisions might have been influenced by an informal multi-agency Iran working group that ''assessed the potential impact'' of criminal investigations and prosecutions on the nuclear negotiations.
Monaco was a particularly influential roadblock at the intersection of law enforcement and politics, in part due to her sense of caution, her close relationship with Obama and her frequent contact with her former colleagues at the Justice Department's National Security Division, according to several task force members and other current and former officials familiar with its efforts.
Some Obama officials warned that further crackdowns against Hezbollah would destabilize Lebanon. Others warned that such actions would alienate Iran at a critical early stage of the serious Iran deal talks. He said he criticized it at the time as being misguided and hypocritical. Monaco declined repeated requests for comment, including detailed questions sent by email and text, though a former White House subordinate of hers rejected the task force members' description of her motives and actions.
The White House was driven by a broader set of concerns than the fate of the nuclear talks, the former White House official said, including the fear of reprisals by Hezbollah against the United States and Israel, and the need to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East. His former associates, however, said that he remained committed to preventing Hezbollah from committing terrorist acts, and that his decisions were based on an overall concern for U.
For their part, task force agents said they tried to work around the obstacles presented by the Justice and State Departments and the White House. Often, they chose to build relatively simple drug and weapons cases against suspects rather than the ambitious narcoterrorism prosecutions that required the approval of senior Justice Department lawyers, interviews and records show.
Their ace in the hole, Kelly and Asher said they told Justice officials, wasn't some dramatic drug bust, but thousands of individual financial transactions, each of which constituted an overt criminal act under RICO. Much of this evidence grew out of the Lebanese Canadian Bank investigation, including details of how an army of couriers for years had been transporting billions of dollars in dirty U.
And the task force was on the tail of every one of them, he said, thanks to an enterprising DEA agent who had found a way to get all of their cellphone numbers. Such on-the-ground spadework, combined with its worldwide network of court-approved communications intercepts, gave Project Cassandra agents virtual omniscience over some aspects of the Hezbollah criminal network.
And from their perch in Chantilly, they watched with growing alarm as Hezbollah accelerated its global expansion that the drug money helped finance. Both Hezbollah and Iran continued to build up their military arsenals and move thousands of soldiers and weapons into Syria.
Aided by the U. Iran and Hezbollah began making similar moves into Yemen and other Sunni-controlled countries. And their networks in Africa trafficked not just in drugs, weapons and used cars but diamonds, commercial merchandise and even human slaves, according to interviews with former Project Cassandra members and Treasury Department documents.
Hezbollah and the Quds force also were moving into China and other new markets. But Project Cassandra's agents were most alarmed, by far, by the havoc Hezbollah and Iran were wreaking in Latin America. The strategy worked in Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela, which evicted the DEA, shuttering strategic bases and partnerships that had been a bulwark in the U. In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez was personally working with then-Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Hezbollah on drug trafficking and other activities aimed at undermining U.
Former Venezuelan president Former Venezuelan president Former Venezuelan president Within a few years, Venezuelan cocaine exports skyrocketed from 50 tons a year to , much of it bound for American cities, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime statistics show.
And beginning in , DEA agents watched as a commercial jetliner from Venezuela's state-run Conviasa airline flew from Caracas to Tehran via Damascus, Syria, every week with a cargo-hold full of drugs and cash.
They nicknamed it ''Aeroterror,'' they said, because the return flight often carried weapons and was packed with Hezbollah and Iranian operatives whom the Venezuelan government would provide with fake identities and travel documents on their arrival. From there, the operatives spread throughout the subcontinent and set up shop in the many recently opened Iranian consulates, businesses and mosques, former Project Cassandra agents said.
But when the Obama administration had opportunities to secure the extradition of two of the biggest players in that conspiracy, it failed to press hard enough to get them extradited to the United States, where they would face charges, task force officials told POLITICO. One was Syrian-born Venezuelan businessman Walid Makled, alias the ''king of kingpins,'' who was arrested in Colombia in on charges of shipping 10 tons of cocaine a month to the United States.
While in custody, Makled claimed to have 40 Venezuelan generals on his payroll and evidence implicating dozens of top Venezuelan officials in drug trafficking and other crimes. He pleaded to be sent to New York as a protected, cooperating witness, but Colombia '-- a staunch U.
The other, retired Venezuelan general and former chief of intelligence Hugo Carvajal, was arrested in Aruba on U. Carvajal ''was the main man between Venezuela and Iran, the Quds force, Hezbollah and the cocaine trafficking,'' Kelly said.
Instead, Venezuela was now the primary pipeline for U. It had also become a strategically invaluable staging area for Hezbollah and Iran in the United States' backyard, including camps they established to train Shiite militias. And at the center of much of that activity was the Ghost The Ghost One of the most mysterious alleged associates of Safieddine, secretly indicted by the U.
Project Cassandra agents came to regard the Ghost as perhaps the most important on-the-ground operator in the conspiracy because of his suspected role in moving drugs, money and munitions, including multi-ton loads of cocaine, into the United States, and WMD components to the Middle East, according to two former senior U. Now, he and Joumaa Ayman Saied Joumaa Accused drug kingpin and financier whose vast network allegedly smuggled tons of cocaine into the U. Now, they had information that Fayad, a joint Lebanese and Ukrainian citizen, and the Ghost were involved in moving conventional and chemical weapons into Syria for Hezbollah, Iran and Russia to help President Assad crush the insurgency against his regime.
Adding to the mystery: Fayad served as a Ukrainian defense ministry adviser, worked for the state-owned arms exporter Ukrspecexport and appeared to have taken Bout Viktor Anatolyevich Bout Vladimir Putin's arms dealer, known as the "Lord of War. So when Fayad's name surfaced in a DEA investigation in West Africa as a senior Hezbollah weapons trafficker, agents scrambled to create a sting operation, with undercover operatives posing as Colombian narcoterrorists plotting to shoot down American government helicopters.
The Fayad sting '-- and his unprecedented value as a potential cooperating witness '-- was just one of many reasons Project Cassandra members had good cause, finally, for optimism. But Project Cassandra's years of relentless investigation had produced a wealth of evidence about Hezbollah's global operations, a clear window into how its hierarchy worked and some significant sanctions by the Treasury Department.
A confidential DEA assessment from that period concluded that Hezbollah's business affairs entity ''has leveraged relationships with corrupt foreign government officials and transnational criminal actors ' Some top U. Special Operations and Southern commands, who warned Congress that Hezbollah's criminal operations and growing beachhead in Latin America posed an urgent threat to U. In early , Kelly and other task force members briefed Attorney General Eric Holder, who was so alarmed by the findings that he insisted Obama and his entire national security team get the same briefing as they formulated the administration's Iran strategy.
So task force leaders welcomed the opportunity to attend a May summit meeting of Obama national security officials at Special Operations Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida. Task force leaders hoped to convince the administration of the threat posed by Hezbollah's networks, and of the need for other agencies to work with DEA in targeting the growing nexus of drugs, crime and terror. The summit, and several weeks of interagency prep that preceded it, however, prompted even more pushback from some top national security officials.
They said senior Obama administration officials appeared to be alarmed by how far Project Cassandra's investigations had reached into the leadership of Hezbollah and Iran, and wary of the possible political repercussions. As a result, task force members claim, Project Cassandra was increasingly viewed as a threat to the administration's efforts to secure a nuclear deal, and the top-secret prisoner swap that was about to be negotiated.
Monaco's former subordinate, speaking under on condition of anonymity, said the White House did not attempt to curb DEA-led efforts against Hezbollah because of the Iran deal. But the subordinate said the White House felt a need to balance the drug agency's interests with those of other agencies who often disagreed with it.
In addition, the briefings for top White House and Justice Department officials that had been requested by Holder never materialized, task force agents said. Holder did not respond to requests for comment. Also, a top intelligence official blocked the inclusion of Project Cassandra's memo on the Hezbollah drug threat from being included in Obama's daily threat briefing, they said.
And Kelly, Asher and other agents said they stopped getting invitations to interagency meetings, including those of a top Obama transnational crime working group. That may have been because Obama officials dropped Hezbollah from the formal list of groups targeted by a special White House initiative into transnational organized crime, which in turn effectively eliminated DEA's broad authority to investigate it overseas, task force members said.
We walked away with nothing. They also struck out repeatedly, they said, in obtaining the administration's approval for offering multimillion-dollar ''rewards for justice'' bounties of a type commonly issued for indicted kingpins like Joumaa, and for the administration to unseal the secret indictments of others, like the Ghost The Ghost One of the most mysterious alleged associates of Safieddine, secretly indicted by the U.
And task force officials pushed the Obama team, also unsuccessfully, to use U. Frustrated, he wrote another of his emails to DEA leaders in July , asking for help. The email stated that the used-car money-laundering scheme was flourishing in the United States and Africa.
Subject: Email subject unknown ' The USG lack of action on this issue has allowed Hizballah to become one of the biggest Transnational Organized Crime groups in the world. As we have shown in our investigations the Super Facilitator network uses this criminal activity to provide massive support to the Iranian Hizballah Threat Network and other terror groups helping fuel conflict in some of the most sensitive regions in the world.
See below string of emails for an example of how long DOJ has been under-performing on this issue to the detriment of national security Email recreation Douglas Farah, a transnational crime analyst, said he tried to raise the Project Cassandra investigations with Obama officials in order to corroborate his own on-the-ground research, without success.
Asher, meanwhile, said he and others began hearing ''from multiple people involved in the Iran discussions that this Hezbollah stuff was definitely getting in the way of a successful negotiation,'' he said. One Obama national security official even said so explicitly in the same State Department meeting in which he boasted about how the administration was bringing together a broad coalition in the Middle East, including Hezbollah, to fight the Islamic State terrorist group, Asher recalled.
As the nuclear deal negotiations were intensifying ahead of a November diplomatic deadline, Obama himself secretly wrote to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to say the two countries had a mutual interest in fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, The Wall Street Journal reported. Kerry, who was overseeing the negotiations, rejected suggestions that the nuclear deal was linked to other issues affecting the U.
S-Iranian relationship. And no discussion has ever taken place about linking one thing to another. They're standing separate from anything else. DEA operations in the Middle East were shut down repeatedly due to political sensitivities, especially in Lebanon, according to one former CIA officer working in the region.
He said pressure from the White House also prompted the CIA to declare ''a moratorium'' on covert operations against Hezbollah in Lebanon, too, for a time, after the administration received complaints from Iranian negotiators. The Obama team ''really, really, really wanted the deal.
As a result, ''We were making concessions that had never been made before, which is outrageous to anyone in the agency,'' the former intelligence officer said, adding that the orders from Washington especially infuriated CIA officers in the field who knew that Hezbollah ''was still doing assassinations and other terrorist activities. Nonetheless, feeling that he had few options left, Asher went public with his concerns at a congressional hearing in May saying, ''the Department of Justice should seek to indict and prosecute'' Hezbollah's Islamic Jihad Organization as an international conspiracy using the RICO RICO case The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act increases the severity of penalties for crimes committed in as part of organized crime.
That was the only way, he testified, for U. The nuclear deal was signed in July , and formally implemented on Jan. A week later, almost two years after his arrest, Czech officials finally released Fayad to Lebanon in exchange for five Czech citizens that Hezbollah operatives had kidnapped as bargaining chips. Afterward, the U. Embassy in the Czech Republic issued a statement saying, ''We are dismayed by the Czech government's decision. But to be fair, there was a lot of shit we did during the Iran deal negotiations that pissed the Iranians off.
Customs and Border Patrol, arrested an undisclosed number of Hezbollah-related suspects in France and neighboring countries on charges of using drug trafficking money to procure weapons for use in Syria. In announcing the arrests, the DEA and the Justice Department disclosed for the first time the existence of Project Cassandra, as well as its target, the drug-and weapons-trafficking unit known as Hezbollah's Business Affairs Component.
In a news release, DEA also said the business entity ''currently operates under the control of Abdallah Safieddine'' and Tabaja Adham Tabaja Lebanese businessman, alleged co-leader of Hezbollah Business Affairs Component and key figure directly tying Hezbollah's commercial and terrorist activities. That's why Project Cassandra members insisted on including Safieddine Abdallah Safieddine Hezbollah's longtime envoy to Iran who allegedly oversaw the group's ''Business Affairs Component'' involved in international drug trafficking.
They wanted it in the public record, in case they had no further opportunity to expose the massive conspiracy they believed he had been overseeing. A last hurrahThe news release caused a stir. And the French government called off a joint news conference planned to announce the arrests. Two weeks later, after firing off another angry email or two, Kelly said he was told by his superiors that he was being transferred against his wishes to a gang unit at DEA headquarters. He retired months later on the first day he was eligible.
Several other key agents and analysts also transferred out on their own accord, in some cases in order to receive promotions, or after being told by DEA leaders that they had been at the Special Operations Division for too long, according to Kelly, Asher, Maltz and others. Meanwhile, the administration was resisting demands that it produce a long-overdue intelligence assessment that Congress had requested as a way of finally resolving the interagency dispute over Hezbollah's role in drug trafficking and organized crime.
It wasn't just a bureaucratic exercise. More than a year earlier, Congress '' concerned that the administration was whitewashing the threat posed by Hezbollah '' passed the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act. That measure required the White House to lay out in writing its plans for designating Hezbollah a ''significant transnational criminal organization. Agents from Project Cassandra and other law enforcement agencies ''investigate criminal activities as a matter of course and are therefore best positioned to judge whether a group has engaged in transnational organized crime,'' wrote Levitt, who is also a former FBI analyst and author of a respected book on Hezbollah.
Once the Obama administration left office, in January , the logjam of task force cases appeared to break, and several task force members said it wasn't a coincidence. An alleged top Hezbollah financier, Kassim Tajideen Kassim Tajideen An alleged top financier for Hezbollah, whose global business empire allegedly acted as a key source of funds for its global terror network.
Asher said task force agents had kept his case under wraps, hoping for a better outcome in whatever administration succeeded Obama's. The Trump administration also designated Venezuelan Vice President Tareck Aissami Tareck El Aissami Venezuelan vice president involved in alleged decade-long drugs, weapons and fake passport conspiracy between Caracas government, Hezbollah and Iran.
Ironically, many senior career intelligence officials now freely acknowledge that the task force was right all along about Hezbollah's operational involvement in drug trafficking.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah '-- in league with Iran, Russia and the Assad regime '-- has all but overwhelmed the opposition groups in Syria, including those backed by the United States. Hezbollah continues to help train Shiite militants in other hotspots and to undermine U. It also continues its expansion in Latin America and, DEA officials said, its role in trafficking cocaine and other drugs into the United States. And it is believed to be the biggest trafficker of the powerful stimulant drug Captagon that is being used by fighters in Syria on all sides.
Progress has been made on other investigations and prosecutions, current and former officials said. But after an initial flurry of interest in resurrecting Project Cassandra, the Trump administration has been silent on the matter.
In all of the Trump administration's public condemnations of Hezbollah and Iran, the subject of drug trafficking hasn't come up. In West Africa, satellite imagery has documented that the Hezbollah used-car money-laundering operation is bigger than ever, Asher told lawmakers in recent testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Hezbollah's used-car money-laundering operation in West Africa Satellite images show the growth of used cars in lots close to Port of Cotonou in Benin. Hezbollah used-car money-laundering operation in West Africa Satellite images show the growth of used cars in lots close to Port of Cotonou in Benin.
On June 1, federal authorities arrested two alleged Hezbollah operatives who were conducting ''pre-operational surveillance'' on possible targets for attack, including the FBI headquarters in New York and the U. The June arrests ''bring into sharp focus that the Iranians are making contingency plans for when the U.
Turf battles, especially the institutional conflict between law enforcement and intelligence agencies, contributed to the demise of Project Cassandra, Maltz said. But many Project Cassandra agents insist the main reason was a political choice to prioritize the Iranian nuclear agreement over efforts to crack down on Hezbollah.
My instinct as a guy doing this for 28 years is that it certainly contributed to why we got pushed aside and picked apart. There is no doubt in my mind. Lin, Janet Michaud and Lily Mihalik. Photos of world leaders via Getty. Fulbright supports a ruling "Elite" Walter Lippman on the need to manipulate pubic opinion Col. Actually these skeptics are important to the conspirators; they are the "useful idiots" so cherished by Lenin.
Primarily, this work was written for anyone who suspects that there is much more to modern European and American history than can be learned from the standard and approved history textbooks.
This work is written for the Godfearing citizen who finds it difficult to believe that our country fought two world wars and spilled the blood of our sons supposedly to make the world free for all mankind, when in actuality we made it possible for two bloodiest empires in history to enslave over a fourth of the world's people in godless communism.
In this work we have tried to answer some obvious questions. Why is there a conspiracy? Who are some of the conspirators? Where does the funding come from? What is the motivation?
When did it all begin? In such a brief work, we don't pretend to present all of the answers or name all of the conspirators or their naive "useful idiots.
The assertion that this conspiracy is a plot to overthrow Western Christian civilization is borne out by the evidence. This work is nothing more or less, than a primer about the players and payers in the plot. Hopefully, the reader will be provided with an understanding of certain international events which otherwise would be inexplicable. His famous "V" for victory signal was recognized around the world and became symbolic of a people unwilling to surrender to an evil oppressor.
Twenty years earlier, Churchill had warned of an even greater threat; but his words went unheeded. In a magazine article, Winston Churchill spoke of "this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstruction of society.
When told by fellow Democrat Martin Dies that some of his most sensitive appointments were communists, FDR angrily retorted, "Several of the best friends I have are communists. It is a fatally flawed system which denies the existence of God, the dignity of man and the freedom of the marketplace. To the communist leader, the end always justifies the means, which was amply demonstrated by Deng Tsiao-ping in Peking's Tiananmen Square on June 4, , when over 2, peaceful demonstrators, many of whom were students asleep in tents, were systematically slaughtered.
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