Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah
U.S. President George Bush
WASHINGTON – The FBI uncovered a network attempting to smuggle Hizbullah agents into the United States through Mexico, FBI Director Bob Muller revealed at a House of Representatives hearing.
Hizbullah agents aided others connected to Hizbullah to enter the U.S., Muller said without elaborating.
According to estimates, the U.S. currently has 11 million illegal immigrants from Mexico. U.S. officials have expressed their fears in the past of cooperation between drug cartels and terror organizations in terms of border infiltrations.
The FBI director said during the hearing that apart from Hizbullah members, there was an attempt to smuggle four Chinese atom scientists into the U.S.
This is not the only sign, however, of Hizbullah's operation inside the U.S. On Thursday, 19 people were indicted of extortion, money laundering, thefts and illegal trade aimed at collecting money for Hizbullah.
The money was collected by selling fake Viagra, originating in China and central Europe, and cigarettes smuggled from U.S. which have no purchase tax on cigarettes to Michigan, where there is purchase tax, in order to win the difference.
The cigarette smuggling operation included a massive transfer of cigarettes worth up to half a million dollars in a week. The prosecution estimated that the state of Michigan lost USD 20 million, which Hizbullah members put in their pockets.
The network was uncovered in the city of Dearborn, a Detroit suburb, the largest Arab concentration in the U.S. The entire operation, however, was activated from Lebanon, Canada, Brazil, Paraguay and China.
Inside the U.S., cigarettes were smuggled to Michigan from North Carolina, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and West Virginia, where large quantities of cigarettes were purchased or stolen and transported to Michigan. According to the statement of claim, large quantities of cigarettes were stolen from the RJ Reynolds tobacco company's storerooms in Kentucky.
Hizbullah's shopping list
Nine of the accused were arrested Wednesday by a War on Terror task force. Another eight of the accused managed to flee the U.S. and are residing in Lebanon, Canada and other places in the world.
The operation to recruit tens of thousands of dollars in the U.S. for Hizbullah began in 1996 and was first uncovered in 2002 following the September 11 terror attacks and the U.S. government's decision to form a joint task force to uncover terror organizations, just like the law authorities managed to crack the mafia – through the money route.
The organization for Hizbullah, which has been operating for at least eight years, transferred some of the money to Beirut, to families and orphans of Hizbullah fighters who died in battles against Israel, and of those who carried out bombing attacks.
The Hizbullah headquarters sent its people in Canada and the U.S. a shopping list, which included night vision equipment, laptops and other sophisticated equipment the organization required for its war on the northern border.