International investigations are revealing that Nicolás Maduro’s alleged front man, the Colombian Alex Saab, has a strong connection with the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
Authorities from the United States, Israel, and Colombia are tracking several financial transactions originating in Venezuela that ultimately ended up financing the terrorist group.
According to the Colombian daily El Tiempo, there are several financial transactions linked to Álex Saab that originated with the Central Bank of Venezuela and ended up in Asia after passing through tax havens. While Colombia is investigating Saab for money laundering, both the United States and Israel are seeking to track him down.
Saab was identified as one of the beneficiaries in the irregular import of food at a premium for the Venezuelan state program called the Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP).
This system, established by the regime, provides certain basic food items to households, at a subsidized cost, through preferential foreign exchange for the purchase and import of food items abroad.
Reports published show that Saab was connected to the distribution of food through the contracts that the Grand Limited Group company signed with the administration of Nicolás Maduro.
The investigations reveal that Alex Saab sold USD $200 million worth of food to Venezuela, following a negotiation and deal signed by Nicolás Maduro. The items were paid with preferential dollars, but invoiced with a surcharge.
For a few months the authorities have tracked the accounts of almost a dozen companies that belong to his circle, which allegedly have been involved in laundering billions of dollars by means of fictitious exports and imports. The concern of the Colombian authorities is that Saab left the country for Italy; however his lawyer Abelardo Della Spriella said that the businessman was in Venezuela.
Saab became one of the most powerful men in Venezuela, lurking in the shadows. The Venezuelan regime recently prohibited journalists from disseminating information about this businessman who apparently also had a relationship with Hezbollah.
Hezbollah and Venezuela
Both Chavez and Maduro have a history of supporting the operations of the Iranians and the Islamic Resistance Movement of Lebanon (Hezbollah).
The United States has issued dozens of reports in which it warns that the South American country has become a threat to the security of the region, after discovering alliances and cooperation between the executive branch of Venezuela and leaders of the Islamic terrorist group.
Hezbollah, which translates to “The party of God”, is an organization that began in Lebanon in 1982 after the Israeli occupation, which has a political arm and a military arm, and works with the support of Iran and the Syrian government of Bashar Al Assad, current allies and friends of the Chavista-Madurista regime. Hezbollah is considered a terrorist group by most Western countries.
The book Búmeran Chávez reveals, according to testimony of Rafael Isea, then Vice Minister of Finance and president of the Bank of Economic and Social Development (Bandes), who was present at the meeting held in Damascus in 2007, between Maduro, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, the signing of a pact that covered drug trafficking, money laundering, arms supply, and passport delivery, as well as the deployment of the radical Shia organization in Venezuela.
But there is more evidence that Chavismo has decided to ally with the terrorist group. A report in the Spanish newspaper ABC reveals that between 2008 and 2012, approximately 173 individuals from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Iran registered as Venezuelan citizens to facilitate their participation in the drug trafficking business and help in the transport of the drug.
In 2015 an official from the Scientific and Criminal Investigation Corps (CICPC), identified as Misael López Soto, who was an adviser to the Venezuelan embassy in Iraq, confessed that he witnessed that the Venezuelan government deliver diplomatic documents to terrorists from the Middle East.
Lopez explained in a video that employees of the embassy sell visas, passports, identity cards, and Venezuelan birth certificates to people from Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and Pakistan who pay between USD $5,000 and USD $15,000 to obtain the documents “under the complacent gaze of the Venezuelan diplomatic authorities.”
The statements of López Soto coincide with the capture of citizens who have been found Venezuelan passports.
In 2003, Hasil Mohammed Rahaham-Alan, who was traveling with a Venezuelan passport, was arrested on a British Airways flight to Heathrow Airport, which serves the city of London.
His flight departed from Caracas and made stops in Colombia and Barbados. With him he carried a grenade in his luggage, which warranted the evacuation of the terminal and a military response.
In 2008, the US Treasury Department issued a statement in which it stated that “it is extremely worrisome to see that the government of Venezuela employs and provides refuge for Hezbollah facilitators and fundraisers.”
This is because Ghazi Nasr al Din (identity card number 18.190.527), who was wanted by Interpol, allegedly served as Chargé d’Affaires of the Venezuelan Embassy in Damascus, Syria, and was subsequently named Director of Political Affairs of the Embassy of Venezuela in Lebanon. Currently documents from the National Electoral Council identify him as a voter from Damascus, Syria
According to the Brazilian magazine Veja, sources declared in 2015 that Nasr al Din allegedly maintained a network for manufacturing and distribution of authentic Venezuelan passports that were provided to hide the true identities of the terrorists.
The Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS), based in Washington, published in 2014 a paper entitled: Canada on guard: assessing the threat of Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba to immigration security; the authors claim that Venezuela issued at least 173 Venezuelan passports to radical Islamists seeking to enter North America.
The authors of this report, Victoria Henderson, general director of the Canadian Institute of Social and Economic Analysis (ISEA); Fernando Menéndez, researcher at the SFS and Joseph Humire, director of the SFS, linked Tareck El Aissami, who headed the Ministry of the Interior between 2008 and 2012, and allegedly created a money laundering network to cover the financing of extremist groups of the Middle East. In addition, they assert that El Aissami has long been coordinating the entry of Iranian terrorists into Venezuela.