Iran continues to smuggle gold to fund Hezbollah
In spite of a weakening economy and domestic unrest, Tehran continues to fund the terror organization
Israel's minister of defense issued an order indicating that an Iranian smuggling operation uncovered last May continues to be a concern. The smuggling operation involves the illegal trade of Iranian oil to Venezuela in return for gold bullion, which is used to fund the Lebanese-based Hezbollah terrorist organization.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant signed a document revealing that dozens of kilograms of gold were smuggled from Venezuela to Europe and Syria. The gold was transported from Caracas to Tehran via Mahan Air, a privately-owned Iranian airline based in Tehran. The profits from the smuggled gold were then transferred to Hezbollah, according to the findings.
The smuggling ring was uncovered by a joint effort between the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing of Israel (NBCTF) and the Defense Ministry, along with the Israel Police and the Israel Tax Authority.
“Iran sells oil to Venezuela to evade US, European and international sanctions. The price of oil is paid in gold,” read the report.
The operation was carried out by various individuals, including Iranian businessman Badr Ad-Din Naimi Musawi, who owns real estate in Britain and an international trading company in Dubai. Musawi helped smuggle gold out of Venezuela to sell to Iran and Turkey.
Ali Kasir, representative of Hezbollah's Economic Affairs Ministry in Tehran, and Mohammad Kasir, head of Hezbollah's logistics unit, reportedly are also involved in the operation.
Hezbollah maintains an active presence in Venezuela and, together with a large Lebanese Shiite expatriate community, there is a lot of sympathy for their cause.
While Iran continuing to invest in Hezbollah amid a difficult financial and political situation might seem illogical, David Daoud, research director of Lebanon, Israel and Syria at United Against Nuclear Iran, told i24News last year that Iran sees Hezbollah’s fight against Israel as a significant enough priority to continue funding.
He also noted that Hezbollah has been facing its own financial crisis, which threatens its ability to function as a proxy for Iran’s interests.
“Regardless of whether Hezbollah is actively confronting Israel, Iran has an interest in Hezbollah growing. The Iranian regime wants to export its revolution and, beyond fighting Israel, Hezbollah provides the critical service as a proxy of spreading the Shia ideology,” he said.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.