War on Terrorism

Friday, March 24, 2017

DEA News: Top Hizballah Terror Financier Arrested



Kassim Tajideen is a specially designated terrorist charged with evading U.S. sanctions

WASHINGTON – DEA and other federal officials today announced the arrest of Kassim Tajideen, a prominent financial supporter of the Hizballah terror organization. Tajideen is charged with evading U.S. sanctions imposed on him because of his financial support of Hizballah. 

Tajideen, 62, of Beirut, Lebanon, was arrested overseas on March 12, 2017, based on an 11-count indictment unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia following his arrival to the United States. Tajideen made his initial court appearance today before Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather.   Tajideen pleaded not guilty and was ordered held pending a detention hearing set for March 29. 

The arrest and indictment are the result of a two-year investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and assisted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The effort is part of DEA’s Project Cassandra, which targets Hizballah’s global criminal support network – dubbed by the DEA as the Business Affairs Component (BAC) that operates as a logistics, procurement and financing arm for Hizaballah.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips of the District of Columbia, DEA Special Agent in Charge Raymond Donovan of the Special Operations Division, and CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan made the announcement. 

“Kassim Tajideen posed a direct threat to safety and stability around the world,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Donovan. “A prominent money man for Hizballah, Tajideen acted as a key source of funds for their global terror network. DEA and our partners are unrelenting in our pursuit of the world’s most dangerous terror and criminal networks and their many facilitators who threaten the rule of law and innocent lives.”

“Because of his support for Hizballah, a major international terrorist group, the U.S. government imposed sanctions on Kassim Tajideen in 2009 that barred him from doing business with U.S. individuals and companies,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco.  “Those sanctions are a powerful tool in our efforts to combat terrorists and those who would support them.  Indeed, the sanctions posed such a significant threat to Tajideen’s extensive business interests that he allegedly went to great lengths to evade them by hiding his identity from the U.S. entities he did business with, and from the government agencies responsible for enforcing the sanctions.  Thanks to the diligent work of our prosecutors and law enforcement partners, we broke through the web of intermediaries Tajideen allegedly used to conceal his involvement, and he has been brought to the United States to face justice.”

“Kassim Tajideen is alleged to have willfully flouted U.S. sanctions that were based on his prior support for Hizballah, a designated foreign terrorist organization,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security McCord. “Those sanctions are designed to protect our national security and public safety by limiting terrorists’ access to resources, and this extradition sends a clear message that we are resolved to find and hold accountable those who violate these laws.”

“The investigation of this case and the arrest and extradition of this defendant demonstrates our commitment to enforcing vitally important sanctions laws that are in place to protect our national security and foreign policy interests,” said U.S. Attorney Phillips. “Because of the hard work of law enforcement here and abroad, Kassim Tajideen will now face charges in an American courtroom.” 

The indictment charges Tajideen with one count of willfully conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, seven counts of unlawful transactions with a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. The indictment also indicates that the government will seek a forfeiture money judgment against the defendants equal to the value of any property, real or personal, which constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to these offenses.

According to the indictment, Tajideen allegedly presided over a multi-billion-dollar commodity distribution business that operates primarily in the Middle East and Africa through a web of vertically integrated companies, partnerships, and trade names.  The indictment further alleges that Tajideen and others engaged in an elaborate scheme to engage in business with U.S. companies while concealing Tajideen’s involvement in those transactions. 

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control named Tajideen a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on May 27, 2009.  This designation prohibits U.S. companies from transacting unlicensed business with Tajideen or any companies which are operated for his benefit – in essence stripping Tajideen’s global business empire of its ability to legally acquire goods from, or wire money into, the United States.  However, the indictment alleges that Tajideen restructured his business empire after the designation in order to evade the sanctions and continue conducting transactions with U.S. entities.  Tajideen and others are alleged to have created new trade names and to have misrepresented his ownership in certain entities in order to conceal Tajideen’s association.  The scheme allowed Tajideen’s companies to continue to illegally transact business directly with unwitting U.S. vendors, as well as to continue utilizing the U.S. financial and freight transportation systems to conduct wire transfers and move shipping containers despite the sanctions against Tajideen. 

According to the indictment, between approximately July of 2013 until the present day, the conspirators illegally completed at least 47 individual wire transfers, totaling over approximately $27 million, to parties in the United States.  During the same time period, the conspirators caused dozens of illegal shipments of goods to leave U.S. ports for the benefit of Tajideen, without obtaining the proper licenses from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. 

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

This investigation was carried out by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, the DEA and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s National Targeting Center Counter-Network Division, with assistance from the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas A. Gillice and Deborah Curtis and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline L. Barkett of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Joseph Palazzo from the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section.
Participating investigative agencies in DEA’s Project Cassandra include the DEA’s New Jersey Field Division and Special Operations Division and various DEA country offices, as well as the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

INTERPOL Washington to Attend Counter ISIL Ministerial Meeting



INTERPOL Washington Acting Director Wayne Salzgaber will attend a meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition working to defeat ISIS on March 22, 2017, at the U.S. Department of State. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will host the 68 foreign ministers and senior Coalition leaders from around the world.

As one of the international organizations represented in the Coalition, INTERPOL, the largest international police organization, will be represented by INTERPOL Secretary General Jϋrgen Stock. INTERPOL Washington is the U.S. National Central Bureau representing the United States in INTERPOL. INTERPOL provides a global framework of resources for combating transnational crime and terrorism, including leading a multinational fusion cell and analytical database containing biometric and other data of value to law enforcement and border control authorities responsible for determining threats from foreign fighters within their jurisdictions.

The Ministerial is intended to accelerate international efforts to defeat ISIS in the remaining areas it holds in Iraq and Syria and to maximize pressure on its branches, affiliates, and networks. The Coalition regularly meets at the Small Group level to coordinate and enhance combined efforts to counter ISIS.

The ministerial participants will discuss detailed priorities for the Coalition’s multiple lines of effort, including military, foreign terrorist fighters, counterterrorist financing, counter-messaging, and stabilization of liberated areas, to increase the momentum of the campaign. Ministers will also discuss the ongoing humanitarian crises in Iraq and Syria that are affecting the region.

For more information on the Global Coalition, please visit the State Department webpage: https://www.state.gov/s/seci/ .

A component of the U.S. Department of Justice, INTERPOL Washington is co-managed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. As the designated representative to the International Criminal Police Organization on behalf of the Attorney General, INTERPOL Washington serves as the national point of contact for all INTERPOL matters, coordinating international investigative efforts among member countries and the more than 18,000 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in the United States.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Denaturalization Lawsuit Filed Against Convicted Al Qaeda Conspirator Residing In Illinois



The United States has filed a civil action in the Southern District of Illinois against a 47-year-old naturalized citizen, formerly of Cleveland, Ohio, accused of unlawfully procuring his U.S. citizenship, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division and U.S. Attorney Donald S. Boyce for the Southern District of Illinois.

Iyman Faris, a native of Pakistan, is currently serving a criminal sentence at the U.S. Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois for conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely, al Qaeda, and for providing material support to al Qaeda. In October 2003, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia sentenced Faris to 20 years in prison. The civil complaint alleges that Faris entered the United States fraudulently by using another’s passport that he willfully misrepresented the circumstances under which he entered the United States on subsequent applications for immigration benefits, and that he twice testified falsely to obtain immigration benefits. Additionally, the complaint alleges Faris lacked the required attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution at the time of his naturalization, as proven by his 2003 federal conviction for providing material support to al Qaeda, a designated terrorist organization. Faris was naturalized as a U.S. citizen on Dec. 16, 1999.

“The Department’s Office of Immigration Litigation will continue to pursue denaturalization proceedings against known or suspected terrorists who procured their citizenship by fraud,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Readler. “The U.S. government is dedicated to strengthening the security of our nation and preventing the exploitation of our nation’s immigration system by those who would do harm to our country.”

“The prosecution of this case demonstrates the commitment of the Department of Justice to preventing immigration fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Boyce. “It is important to ensure the path to legal naturalization remains secure and free of fraud. When people enter the United States, immigrate, and later become citizens, all done through fraud and misrepresentation, their unlawful actions harm the integrity of our immigration system.”

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a naturalized U.S. citizen’s citizenship may be revoked, and his certificate of naturalization canceled, if the naturalization was illegally procured or procured by concealment of a material fact or by willful misrepresentation.

This case was investigated by the Civil Division’s Office of Immigration Litigation, District Court Section and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The litigation is being handled by Trial Attorney Edward S. White of the Office of Immigration Litigation and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Biersbach of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois.

The claims made in the complaint are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.