Hezbollah and Drug Lords: A Dangerous Alliance
In the early days of the War on Terror, back when the United States was only fighting one war, in Afghanistan, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage made a bold statement: "Hezbollah may be the 'A-Team of terrorists,'" Armitage said, referring to the Lebanese-based, Iranian-controlled organization, "and maybe al-Qaeda is actually the 'B'-Team."
Hezbollah has certainly been killing Americans for longer than al-Qaeda has -- beginning in 1983 with the truck bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut which killed 241 Marines. As recently as June 2006, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield told reporters that Hezbollah teams were involved in attacking U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq.
Now, in an alarming new development, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has broken apart an international drug smuggling and money laundering ring which links Hezbollah to the Colombian cocaine cartels though a Lebanese operative named Shukri Mahmud Harb.
This is the first time the U.S. has tied a terrorist organization to a major cocaine cartel. "The profits from the sale of drugs went to finance Hezbollah," says Gladys Sanchez, the chief investigator for the special prosecutor's office in Bogotá. The DEA took the lead on the investigation, which went by the code name Operation Titan.