A new investigation has found that the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Justice road-blocked efforts to take to task Hezbollah terrorists who were trafficking cocaine and weapons, and laundering dirty money, around the world, because doing so might have jeopardized the Iran nuclear deal – which the Obama Administration “really, really” wanted.
POLITICO recently released an investigative report in which it found the Obama Administration had “derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States.”
“Project Cassandra” was the campaign that targeted Hezbollah. It was launched in 2008 following evidence compiled by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that “Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities,” POLITICO reported.
Project Cassandra was able to target Hezbollah’s networks and top terrorists over the course of eight years. Law enforcement officials on the project followed cocaine shipments, tracked dirty money, and traced the conspiracy to what they believed was the inner circle of Hezbollah and its Iranian sponsors.
However, as the investigation grew deeper – and the conspiracy pointed higher and higher up the chain of command of terrorists – the Obama Administration set up an “increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way, according to interviews with dozens of participants who in many cases spoke for the first time about events shrouded in secrecy, and a review of government documents and court records,” POLITICO reported
“When Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests,” POLITICO said.
POLITICO delved further into the walls faced by those members of Project Cassandra who wanted to go after top Hezbollah terrorists:
In practice, the administration’s willingness to envision a new role for Hezbollah in the Middle East, combined with its desire for a negotiated settlement to Iran’s nuclear program, translated into a reluctance to move aggressively against the top Hezbollah operatives, according to Project Cassandra members and others.
One Obama-era Treasury official, Katherine Bauer, in little-noticed written testimony presented last February to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, acknowledged that “under the Obama administration … these [Hezbollah-related] investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking the boat with Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal.”
Project Cassandra members say administration officials also blocked or undermined their efforts to go after other top Hezbollah operatives including one nicknamed the ‘Ghost,’ allowing them to remain active despite being under sealed U.S. indictment for years. People familiar with his case say the Ghost has been one of the world’s biggest cocaine traffickers, including to the U.S., as well as a major supplier of conventional and chemical weapons for use by Syrian President Bashar Assad against his people.
And when Project Cassandra agents and other investigators sought repeatedly to investigate and prosecute Abdallah Safieddine, Hezbollah’s longtime envoy to Iran, whom they considered the linchpin of Hezbollah’s criminal network, the Justice Department refused, according to four former officials with direct knowledge of the cases.
This was all done in order to not upset the Iranians.
“‘During the negotiations, early on, they [the Iranians] said listen, we need you to lay off Hezbollah, to tamp down the pressure on them, and the Obama administration acquiesced to that request,'” a former CIA officer told POLITICO. “It was a strategic decision to show good faith toward the Iranians in terms of reaching an agreement.”
The Obama Administration “really, really, really wanted the deal,” the former officer told POLITICO.
The Iranian nuclear deal was drawn up in 2015 with Iran, the U.S. and five other nations. Its framework includes stipulations that Iran would redesign, convert and reduce its number of nuclear facilities in order to lift nuclear-related economical sanctions, which would reportedly free up billions of dollars in oil revenue and frozen assets for Iran. The U.S. and Iran also agreed to their own terms, along with terms penned with other nations.
However, Iran has not held up its end of the deal, the Trump Administration has said. President Donald Trump has referred to the deal as the “one of the worst” and a “one-sided transaction” for the United States.
President Trump said in October that the U.S. will not certify the Iran nuclear deal, and it is now up to Congress to address the deal’s “serious flaws” in order to protect the American people from any threats of nuclear weapons.
Trump said if Congress can’t reach a solution, then the Iran nuclear agreement would be “terminated.”
The President has called the deal “one of the worst” and “the most one-sided transaction the United States has ever entered into,” and he reiterated his sentiments when he announced the U.S. would not certify the deal yet – he said the “rogue regime” of Iran is only perpetuating terrorism around the world, and is becoming more aggressive in doing so.
“The Iranian dictatorship […] remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” the President has said, saying the regime provides assistance to al-Qaida, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorists.
As for the 2015 landmark deal forged by Iran and the Obama Administration, Trump has said: “We got weak inspections in exchange for no more than a purely short-term, temporary delay for Iran on its path toward nuclear weapons.”
Additionally, along with pushing the deal back to Congress, the President authorized the U.S. Treasury to impose sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which he called a “corrupt personal terror force.”