As well as the funding it receives from Iran, Hezbollah generates significant capital from its criminal activities. Its extensive criminal network encompasses almost every continent, generating billions of dollars to support its destructive agenda.
The most appropriate term to describe Hezbollah’s criminal enterprise is narco-terrorism, which refers to groups involved in drug trafficking in order to fund terror activities. The organization develops drugs in South America and Eastern Lebanon, and then shipping them across the world, mainly to Europe, where prices for narcotics are highest. Hezbollah then uses its drug-based income to fund its terrorist activities, funneling the money back to Lebanon through wire transfers and physical capital. Recently, Europe has seen a surge in drugs on the market, a trend experts attribute to Hezbollah’s illegal enterprise.
Many prominent drug busts have occurred in recent years in Europe, with Hezbollah members at the center. These were part of two international anti-narcotics operations called “Project Cassandra” and “Operation Cedar,” which were aimed at combatting Hezbollah’s narco-terrorism. Among the examples of Hezbollah’s criminal activity in Europe is Ayman Joumaa, who the US Treasury Department claims profited $200 million monthly from the sale of cocaine in Europe, including Germany.
Tellingly, officials estimate that Hezbollah profits roughly $1 billion annually from its illicit drug dealings and weapons trafficking, which is enough funding to continue terror operations worldwide for years to come.
Yet Hezbollah’s criminal enterprise does not stop with narcotics. Hezbollah supporters are often engaged in a range of licit and illicit activities that benefit the group financially. These include money laundering and credit card, immigration, and bank frauds. Hezbollah networks continue to use Europe as a base to recruit members, raise funds, procure weapons, conduct pre-operational surveillance, and execute operations, as they have for over three decades.
In Germany, Hezbollah has used local mosques to fund arms trafficking and other terror activities. Even art collectors have used their galleries and collections as fronts for smuggling money to Hezbollah. The organization also has a long history of leveraging connections with Lebanese expatriates in West Africa to smuggle diamonds.
In Africa alone, Hezbollah is guilty of extortion, human trafficking, counterfeiting, and connections to local dictators. Hezbollah’s criminal enterprise is well-connected and spread across the globe, allowing the terror group to operate everywhere and raise funds for its illicit activities.