Monday, July 24, 2006
WBI INC TERRORISM RESEARCH CTR
Hezbollah banks under attack in Lebanon.
Israel seeks to destroy group’s financial infrastructure.
WASHINGTON - Israeli intelligence sources tell NBC News that among the targets hit in Lebanon in the last week are as many as a dozen financial institutions — part of a previously secret campaign to destroy Hezbollah's financial infrastructure.
The messages are for all the Lebanese banks," says Brig Gen. Dani Arditi. "Assistance to Hezbollah is direct assistance to a terrorist organization."
Among the targets: Eight offices of Hezbollah's treasury, which the Israelis claim caught Hezbollah by surprise.
"We know that they are looking for money," says Arditi. "They are very, very desperate to have some cash, and they don't have [any]."
The Israelis say they also struck branches of two major banks — Al Baraka and Fransabank — which they claim help Hezbollah receive and move money around the world. They say a third bank — the Middle East and Africa Bank — also is on their hit list. The banks deny any ties to Hezbollah.
But an appeal last week on Lebanese TV asked for money for the Hezbollah resistance to be sent to an account at the Middle East and Africa Bank.
An NBC producer called the number. She was told to go to any U.S. bank and wire money but not tell anyone it was for Hezbollah.
The Middle East and Africa Bank had a relationship with the U.S. bank, Wachovia. After NBC News informed Wachovia of the Hezbollah fund-raising appeal, Wachovia terminated the relationship.