Search

Security Brief: IFET & B/L Week of January 17, 2022

Week of Monday, January 17, 2022 | Issue 2

Sara Kulic, Jennifer Kelly, IFET Team; Beatriz Adell Quesada, Angeliki Siafaka, Behavior/Leadership (B/L) Team


The Flag of Lebanese Hezbollah[1]


Date: January 18, 2022

Location: US

Parties involved: US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC); Hezbollah; Hezbollah members Adel Diab, Ali Mohamad Daoun, and Jihad Salem Alame; Dar Al Salam for Travel & Tourism

The event: The OFAC imposed sanctions on three Hezbollah-linked businessmen, Adel Diab, Ali Mohamad Daoun, Jihad Salem Alame, and their Lebanon-based travel company, Dar Al Salam for Travel & Tourism to disrupt financial facilitators who raise and launder funds for Hezbollah. Hezbollah continues to evade sanctions through a network of financial facilitators who provide the group with material and financial support to fund acts of terrorism and destabilize Lebanon’s political institutions. Lebanon experiences an economic crisis, while Hezbollah continues to profit from “business ventures and backdoor political deals,” blocking economic reforms in the country. The sanctions mean “all property and interests in property of the individuals and entity named above, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, must be blocked and reported to OFAC.”[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The sanctions are unlikely to significantly disrupt Hezbollah’s funding as the group will very likely continue to launder money and generate profits through legitimate means. The OFAC’s attempts to combat Hezbollah’s illicit financing will likely result in the group transferring its US financial operations to other countries to evade sanctions and continue raising illicit profits. Hezbollah will very likely focus on countries with lax money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF) controls, including Panama and the Bahamas.

  • Hezbollah will very likely retain power in Lebanon and continue to obstruct economic reforms in the country, which will very likely further the Lebanese economic crisis, increasing unemployment and the poverty rate. Economic distress and worsening conditions will very likely lead to violent civil unrest. Continued instability will very likely make it more difficult to monitor Hezbollah activities and corruption in the country, likely offering the group more opportunities to expand its illicit and terrorist activities.

Date: January 18, 2022

Location: US

Parties involved: Former US President Donald Trump; Trump Organization; New York Attorney General Letitia James; Republican Party supporters; Democratic Party supporters

The event: A court filing on January 18, 2022 against the Trump Organization accuses the family business of overstating the value of their biggest assets by millions of dollars to get tax breaks. A series of documents filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James contains examples of Trump properties involved in fraudulent behavior, including six properties in New York and Scotland. Donald Trump has denied any wrongdoing, instead accusing Letitia James, a Democrat, of conducting a “witch hunt” with political motivations.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Donald Trump’s supporters will very likely perceive the court filing as an attempt to undermine his 2024 re-election chances. By presenting himself as a victim of politically-motivated persecution, Donald Trump is likely to generate anger and a sense of injustice among his supporters, who will likely direct these feelings at members and supporters of the Democratic Party. Tensions between supporters of the Republican and Democratic parties are very likely to deepen political polarization in American society. The increasing polarization is very likely to contribute to a rise in extremist political violence and violent clashes between opposing party supporters.

  • The exploitation of real estate for illicit financial activities almost certainly has a negative impact on the economy, depriving the country of significant amounts of tax revenue. Low-income workers very likely experience the worst impact of tax evasion, as a lack of tax revenue very likely leads to less funding for public education and healthcare. There is a roughly even chance that the Trump Organization will try to influence the civil proceedings through corruption, including political connections and bribery.

Date: January 21, 2022

Location: Nigeria

Parties involved: Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission; US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control; United Nations Security Council; Terrorist groups

The event: It is reported that Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission is introducing a new rule aiming to reinforce the monitoring of financial links to terrorist organizations. The new rule requires capital market players “to screen and verify every client” to confirm that they are not connected to any terrorist organization designated by the Nigerian government, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, and the United Nations Security Council. Although similar rules already exist in Nigeria, this new rule gives greater powers to the Securities and Exchange Commission.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The stricter regulations will likely help improve the country’s ability to identify suspicious transactions and boost its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing efforts. The increased monitoring will likely lead terrorist groups to increase their involvement in criminal activities and cooperation with criminal organizations in the region to raise funds, which would also likely enable them to use criminal networks to move funds.

  • Reinforcing terrorist-financing controls within Nigeria will very likely encourage terrorist groups in the region to move their financial operations to neighboring countries such as Niger. Terrorist groups' transfer of their financial operations to neighboring countries is likely facilitated by Nigeria's porous borders. Nigeria-based terrorist groups will also likely exploit the cryptocurrency market to launder money and generate funds, which will almost certainly strengthen their operations and increase the threat of terrorist attacks in the region.

Specialty reports are designed to inform clients of existing and emerging threats worldwide. To defeat terrorists and individuals intent on harming, it is critical to understand and investigate them. We collect and analyze intelligence on terrorists and extremists, their organizations, individuals who are threats, and their tactics and attacks to develop solutions to detect, deter, and defeat any act of terrorism or violence against our client. We also conduct investigations to identify persons of interest, threats, and determine the likelihood of a threat and how to stop them. To find out more about our products and services visit us at counterterrorismgroup.com.


________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1]The flag of the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah” by FotograFFF licensed under Shutterstock

[2] Treasury Sanctions Hizballah Financiers in Lebanon, U.S. Department of the Treasury, January 2022, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0558

[3] Donald Trump investigation reveals new details of alleged fraud, BBC, January 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-60050141

[4] Nigeria Stiffens Oversight of Terror Financing With Latest Rule, BNN Bloomberg, January 2022, https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/nigeria-stiffens-oversight-of-terror-financing-with-latest-rule-1.1711019

33 views