The net is closing around Hezbollah

A high-profile court case in France and the designation of its leader's son as a global terrorist shows this group for what it really is

epa07155721 Lebanese supporter of Hezbollah listen to the speech of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on a giant screen, during a ceremony to mark the party's Martyrs Day at the hall of martyr Sayyed Mohammad Baker Al-Sadr at Al Mahdi school in Al-Hadath, southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, 10 November 2018. Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech, Where he talked about the political situation and the military conflicts in the Arab countries, and then touched on the Lebanese situation and political disputes between the Lebanese parties that disrupts the formation of a new government after the parliamentary elections.  EPA/NABIL MOUNZER
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Layer by layer, Hezbollah’s thin veneer of political legitimacy is being torn away, exposing a corrupt organisation as steeped in the worst excesses of the global drugs trade as it is embroiled in the export of Iranian-inspired terror. In a series of actions led by the US government, the organisation and members of its far-flung network of supporters have been designated terrorists and criminals and subjected to far-reaching sanctions designed to disrupt its global funding networks. Such edicts, though welcome and vital instruments in the battle against the pernicious influence of the Iranian proxy, make for dry reading. But now the visceral details of Hezbollah’s cynical operation are to be laid bare in a French courtroom.

With the trial in Paris of a Lebanese crime ring accused of trafficking cocaine for a Colombian cartel, and laundering the profits to buy weapons for the group in Syria, the world will see the inner machinations of Hezbollah in all their sordid, callous detail. Justice must be allowed to take its course. Each of the 15 defendants should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. But the evidence to be presented in court will demonstrate graphically why the US Justice Department last month designated Hezbollah a "transnational crime organisation", in company with several Columbian drug cartels. Over the next two weeks the trial will hear details of a vast drugs-smuggling and money-laundering operation linked to Hezbollah. Operating over four continents, the gang's members are accused of handling tens of millions of dollars in narcotics and luxury smuggled goods.

It is clear that the world's patience with Hezbollah is running out. This month, a fresh wave of sanctions was announced in Washington, targeting among others Jawad Nasrallah, the son of the organisation leader, Hassan Nasrallah, and Al Mujahidin Brigades, a military group in Palestine with ties to Hezbollah. Both have been categorised as "specially designated global terrorists", in order to deny Hezbollah "the resources to plan and carry out terrorist attacks". At the beginning of last month, the US Treasury gave the same designation to Hezbollah financier Muhammad Abdallah Al Amin. Sanctions were imposed upon him and six of his companies for their links to a Hezbollah funding group led by Lebanese businessman Adham Tabaja. Tabaja was himself sanctioned in 2015 by the US Treasury for supporting Hezbollah's financial operations and terrorist activities.

Formed in 1982 and responsible for a series of terrorist outrages, including the suicide truck bombings of the US embassy and marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, Hezbollah has been engaged in Lebanese politics since 1992. Now, almost 21 years to the day since the organisation was first labelled a terror organisation by the US, Hezbollah’s facade is in tatters and its rotten heart exposed for all the world to see.