Hezbollah – "like the Gambinos on steroids"

– A web of intrigue –

Leave everything you’re doing and read this 5-page report in the New York Times on Hezbollah’s finances, the role the Lebanese Canadian Bank played and the global criminal network that kept the wheels turning for the “party of god”.

The report is full of little details that make it a must-read. If you can’t read it now, at least add it to Instapaper or Readability.

Also: The Amazingly Complex Scheme Involving the Lebanese Canadian Bank.

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  • [ j ]

    excellent article.

    reading it, i couldn’t help but wonder about the real scale of such operations and how they transcend a few people and a few banks here and there. the big picture is much, much more dim, mustafa, and we all know it.

    corruption, unethical trade, money laundering and fraudulent business is at the heart of the livelihood of many lebanese businesses both locally and overseas (and yes, unquestionably, it’s at the heart of the hezbollah story). it seems to me that the web of interrelationships linking it is so densely knit that it involves people from all social, political, and sectarian strata in lebanon. heck, at the global scale, i bet it also involves the trade and special-interest lobbies of those same people who are exposing it all.

    i was walking through the diamond souks in beirut last week and i was wondering where all those diamonds are coming from? very few are certified and NONE of the salespeople knew anything about the origins of their products? when i asked them (that includes mouawad’s sales people–mouawad is supposed to be of the most prestigious brands locally) about whether their diamonds are ethical, they laughed and said that they have no clue.

    the same applies to ag, raw materials and much of what we consume. i met many traders throughout the years, especially during my travels to sudan, who told me utterly horrific stories (based on their personal experiences) about the ethics of some lebanese businessmen throughout africa: coffee and cocoa trade, metals, gold and raw materials.

    the same applies to domestic trade: endless corruption at ports of entry, illegal trade and massive deals that get swept under the rug, day in day out.

    suddenly, and despite its impressive breadth and detail, and knowing what i and many citizens like me know about the “system” in this place, the NYtimes article seems relatively bland–more like a hollywood movie. to me, the problem is much, much bigger than car shipments, a family bank and exchange houses.

    imagine the shockwave that we would cause if we, average citizens, would set up an underground transparency and anti-corruption clearinghouse in lebanon, where we would do extensive, long-term, investigative journalism and expose the mass scale of corruption and fraud in this country.