Chavez. Denies allegations
WASHINGTON – A report released Monday by the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) accuses the Venezuelan government of sheltering Hizbullah members, helping raise funds for the Lebanese terror organization and laundering money for the group.
According to the report, Venezuelan diplomat Ghazi Nasr al-Din, who is of Lebanese descent, and Venezuelan-Arab businessman Fawzi Kanan are the contacts between Caracas and Hizbullah.
The report also revealed that Nasr al-Din served as Charge d' Affaires at the Venezuelan Embassy in Damascus, Syria and was in charge of diplomatic issues in his country's embassy in Beirut. He brought two Hizbullah representatives in the Lebanese parliament to Venezuela in order to raise funds. The two also inaugurated an Islamic community center in the country.
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Following the investigation, assets belonging to Nasr al-Din and Kanan have been frozen and the two have been banned from doing business in the United States or with US citizens and residents.
The Washington Times reported that Kanan is also suspected of planning kidnappings and terror attacks and visiting Iran with Hizbullah members for training purposes.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has denied any affiliation between his country and Hizbullah, the American allegations were only aimed at encouraging the world to take action against Caracas.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said the allegations came from "the world's No. 1 terrorist, (US President) George Bush. There are no terrorists in Venezuela. If they want to search for terrorists, they should look for them in the White House."