Report: Obama administration derailed anti-Hezbollah project to secure Iran deal
Politico investigation reveals previous American administration undermined an ambitious law enforcement campaign and allowed the Lebanese terror organization to engage in drug-trafficking and money-laundering operations—including inside the US— to ensure nuclear deal would remain on track. 'This was a policy decision,' says finance analyst.
Project Cassandra was an ambitious law enforcement campaign launched in 2008 by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), aimed at targeting the Lebanese terror organization's criminal activity. According to Fox News, however, "by tossing a string of roadblocks holding back the project, Obama administration officials helped allow the 35-year-old anti-Israel criminal enterprise to evolve into a major global security threat bankrolling terrorist and military operations."
“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” David Asher, who helped establish and oversee Project Cassandra as a Defense Department illicit finance analyst, told Politico. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”
According to the report, for eight years agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 US and foreign security agencies. They followed cocaine shipments, tracked a river of dirty cash, and traced what they believed to be the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.
But when Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.
Project Cassandra members told Politico that administration officials also blocked or undermined their efforts to go after other top Hezbollah operatives, including one nicknamed 'The Ghost'— one of the world’s biggest cocaine traffickers, including to the US, as well as a major supplier of conventional and chemical weapons for use by Syrian President Bashar Assad against his people.
Former Obama administration officials, however, denied that they had derailed any actions against Hezbollah or its Iranian allies for political reasons.
“There has been a consistent pattern of actions taken against Hezbollah, both through tough sanctions and law enforcement actions before and after the Iran deal,” Kevin Lewis, an Obama spokesman who worked at both the White House and Justice Department in the administration, told Politico.
But according to Asher, “The closer we got to the (Iran deal), the more these activities went away. So much of the capability, whether it was special operations, whether it was law enforcement, whether it was (Treasury) designations—even the capacity, the personnel assigned to this mission—it was assiduously drained, almost to the last drop, by the end of the Obama administration.”