Lebanese businessman convicted of financing Hezbollah in US returns home

Kassim Tajideen was serving a five-year prison term in the United States for providing millions of dollars to Hezbollah in a money laundering scheme

A handout picture obtained on July 8, 2020 from the family of Businessman Kassim Tajideen, accused by Washington of being a major financial contributor to Hezbollah, shows Tajideen upon his arrival to his residence in Beirut on July 8, 2020. The Lebanese businessman jailed in the United States over allegations of funding Shiite movement Hezbollah arrived back in Beirut on July 8, his family said, after being granted early release from prison due to poor health. The 64-year-old Tajideen had been extradited to the United States after he was designated as a financier of Hezbollah, a key Lebanese political player that Washington has listed as a "terrorist organisation". In late May, a US judge granted an emergency request for compassionate release on the grounds that Tajideen's age and "serious health conditions" made him vulnerable to the novel coronavirus in prison. - === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / KASSEM TAJEDDINE FAMILY" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ===
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A Lebanese businessman serving a five-year sentence in the US for providing Hezbollah with millions of dollars arrived in Beirut yesterday after an early release, local media reported.

Kassim Tajideen was sentenced last year in a federal court in Washington for his role in a money laundering conspiracy designed to evade US sanctions.

He was arrested in Morocco and extradited to the US in 2017, where he was charged with laundering money for Hezbollah.

Lebanon’s National News Agency reported on Tajideen’s arrival as he stepped out of a small jet.

Footage shows a man rushing towards Tajideen, who is wearing a face mask, and hugging him.

A federal judge had ordered the release of Tajideen, 64, in May.

He was granted a compassionate release because of health conditions and fears that he may contract coronavirus in prison.

The US Department of Justice had contested the release.

Tajideen was accused of conspiring with at least five other people to conduct transactions worth more than $50 million (Dh183.6m) with US businesses, in breach of sanctions.

He had been barred from doing business with US nationals and companies because of his support for Hezbollah.

Washington has designated Iran-backed Hezbollah a terrorist group.

Mr Tajideen pleaded guilty last December and agreed to forfeit $50m.

In March, a Lebanese military tribunal ordered the release of a Lebanese-American held in the country for nearly six months on charges of working for an Israeli-backed militia two decades ago. Amer Fakhoury’s release raised speculation that Tajideen may be granted an early release in return.

Mr Fakhoury, 57, who had faced decades-old murder and torture charges in Lebanon, became a US citizen last year, and is now a restaurant owner in Dover, New Hampshire. US officials had called for imposing sanctions on Lebanon to pressure Beirut to release him.