[DEBATE] : U.S. Accusations of Venezuelan Support for Hezbollah "Mud Slinging" Says Venezuelan Official
critical.montages at gmail.com
Sat Jun 21 17:34:53 BST 2008
The USG lost the FARC angle against Venezuela, so now it's really reaching.
U.S. Accusations of Venezuelan Support for Hezbollah "Mud Slinging"
Says Venezuelan Official
June 20th 2008, by James Suggett - Venezuelanalysis.com
Mérida, June 19, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)-- A "new, unfounded
accusation" is how the President of Venezuela's Bolivarian
Civil-Military Front, Lieutenant Colonel Héctor Herrera, described
allegations by the U.S. Treasury Department that a Venezuelan diplomat
and Venezuelan travel agent, both of Lebanese decent, are financial
supporters of the Lebanon-based political and military organization
The accusations "are more of the same," said Herrera, whose
Civil-Military organization recently test-ran military maneuvers with
Venezuelan reservists to defend against a simulated foreign invasion.
"Just like the [accusation about] Venezuela's link with the Armed
Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC)," added Herrera.
Herrera was referring to still unsubstantiated accusations by the U.S.
and its chief Latin American ally Colombia that Venezuela and Ecuador,
which have negotiated the release of 6 high-profile FARC hostages
recently, have financed the Colombian insurgents.
According to a press release from the U.S. Department of the Treasury
on Wednesday, the U.S. government has ordered a freeze on the U.S.
assets of Ghazi Nasr al Din and Fawzi Kan'an, and prohibited U.S.
citizens from engaging in business transactions with these
Venezuelans, in accordance with Executive Order 13224, which aims to
cut off support to terrorists.
Adam Szubin, the Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control
(OFAC) in the Treasury Department, stated "it is extremely troubling
to see the Government of Venezuela employing and providing safe harbor
to Hezbollah facilitators and fundraisers. We will continue to expose
the global nature of Hezbollah's terrorist support network, and we
call on responsible governments worldwide to disrupt and dismantle
The U.S. government claims Ghazi Nasr al Din used his previous
position at the Venezuelan Embassy in Syria and as President of the
Shi'a Islamic Center in Caracas to "counsel" Hezbollah donors and give
them "specific information on bank accounts" used by Hezbollah, which
the U.S. and several other countries label a terrorist organization.
Ghazi Nasr al Din is currently the Political Affairs Director for the
Venezuelan Embassy in Lebanon.
OFAC also claims Ghazi Nasr al Din "discussed operational issues" with
Hezbollah and "facilitated the travel" of members of the organization,
once to Caracas and another time to Iran.
Travel assistance for Hezbollah's "fundraising efforts" is also the
charge against Fawzi Kan'an, whose two travel agencies in Caracas were
penalized by OFAC Wednesday.
"These are all lies," Fawzi Kan´an told several reporters in phone
interviews from one of his travel agencies Wednesday.
Kan´an explained that he came to Venezuela in 1986 as a refugee from
violence in his home country. He claimed to be neither political nor
linked with either Hezbollah or the Venezuelan government.
"When someone walks in to buy a ticket I don't have the right to ask
them what religion they are. I have all kinds of clients," said
In an official statement, Hezbollah declared Wednesday that the two
men accused by the U.S. are not members of the organization. Hezbollah
denounced the "stupid manner" in which the U.S. conducts its foreign
affairs, and said it would release a broader statement on the matter
on a future date, according to the news agency EFE.
The Venezuelan Communication and Information Minister, Andrés Izarra,
told the press Thursday that the Lebanese government has not expressed
concern to Venezuela about the accusations raised by OFAC.
"We do not have any formal complaint from Lebanon regarding this or
any other issue," Izarra announced. "If they had any problem requiring
investigations, they would have informed our country about it, and
they have not," the minister explained.
Minister Izarra recognized Hezbollah's status as a legitimate
political organization within Lebanon and in the eyes of many
countries, including the European Union. "Unlike the U.S. we do not
intervene in the internal affairs of others," Izarra asserted.
The U.S. has fiercely criticized Venezuela for sustaining friendly
relations with Iran. Venezuela and Iran recently proposed the creation
of a $1.2 billion joint investment fund, and in past deals Iran has
shared bicycle and agricultural technology with Venezuela.
In Herrera's opinion, the U.S.'s persistent accusations against
Venezuela "are conjectures, alarmist opinions, what they're after is
to sling mud on the reputation and the management of President Hugo
Herrera further asserted that the U.S. should not accuse others of
being terrorists because the U.S. is the principal terrorist and
sponsor of terrorist groups worldwide.
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