Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lebanese Canadian Bank and Hizbullah

The New York Times article yesterday would fail as a paper for an undergraduate course in any junior college in the US.  No doubt. I received many reactions to the article. Here is one from someone who wishes to remain anonymous:  "I read your analysis of the NYT article at your news service blog.
Attached is the indictment (only 6 pages long) of Ayman Joumaa mentioned in the article. The indictment makes no mention of Hezbollah or the Lebanese Canadian Bank, or for that matter any bank at all. So Joumaa's alleged criminal activities appear simply dropped into the NYT article, to inflate the article's effect, I guess. But assuming Joumaa did in fact assist with drug running and money laundering, there's no concrete evidence cited in the NYT article to link him to Hezbollah. The supposed link is based on interviews with anonymous DEA and Treasury officials, who claim (based on what?) Hezbollah took a cut of drug proceeds that went through Lebanese Canadian Bank's Beirut operations. Moreover, even if it's true people belonging to or linked to Hezbollah took cuts, what does that prove? Every year US and EU politicians are found guilty of taking bribes. If 1 or 2 US or French legislators take illicit money, no one thinks (at least not usually), "OK, that means the entire US or French govts. are criminal enterprises."
You forgot to mention in your post that the Harb guy stumbled into a meeting with an undercover US govt. agent, just like the Iranian-American car salesman did. Alleged crooks from the Middle East operating in Latin America sure are unlucky. Notice that the article, strangely, doesn't mention Harb's fate. Supposedly he was on the verge of revealing a major Hezbollah-drug dealing connection, but got spooked at the last minute. The article says he was "convicted." But was he arrested by US authorities and convicted? Is he sitting in a US jail? What happened to him? If he's in a US jail, why isn't he talking? Not only did the Iranian-American allegedly talk, he immediately waved his right to legal counsel. If Harb is capable of describing Hezbollah connections, he sounds more valuable than Joumaa. Even the most junior reporter would take care to tell readers what became of Harb...Well, the situation involving Mr. Harb is now indeed mysterious.  According to the NYT, he is in US federal prison: Despite being in US hands, he's not talking about Hezbollah's alleged connection to drug dealing? Even though John O. Brennan, the president’s countert errorism adviser, is quoted in the NYT story today as saying, “I thought that if Hezbollah was involved in the drug trade . . . let’s make sure that gets out”? How odd. Or not, if there is no real evidence of a connection."