The U.S. Department of the Treasury has designated Kassim Tajideen and Abd Al Menhem Qubaysi, two Africa-based supporters of the Hizballah terrorist organization, as terrorists providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. The U.S. has announced the freezing of any assets these Lebanese traders may have under U.S. jurisdiction and is prohibiting Americans from engaging in any transactions with them.
Kassim Tajideen is an important financial contributor to Hizballah who operates a network of businesses in Lebanon and Africa. He has contributed tens of millions of dollars to Hizballah and has sent funds to Hizballah through his brother, a Hizballah commander in Lebanon. In addition, Kassim Tajideen and his brothers run cover companies for Hizballah in Africa.
In May 2003, following a four month international investigation by Belgium's Economic Crimes Unit, judicial police raided the Antwerp offices of Soafrimex, arresting the owner Kassim Tajideen and several company officials and freezing the firm's bank accounts. A few weeks later, the police also arrested his wife Huda Saad. Tajideen was then arrested in connection with fraud, money laundering, and diamond smuggling.
Arrested for diamond smuggling and money laundering in Antwerp
Soafrimex is a Lebanese-Antwerp export company, located in the Van Stralenstraat in Antwerp. Kassim Tajideen is not listed in any of the diamond company guides nor does he have any known connections to Antwerp diamond dealers. Nevertheless Kassim and his wife Huda Saad have been accused by the Belgian authorities of ‘large-scale tax fraud, money laundering and trade in diamonds of doubtful origin, to the value of tens of millions of euros'.
Soafrimex exports food stuffs to African countries such as Congo, Sierra Leone and South Africa. (Sugar; Wheat). Kassim Tajideen remained in a Belgian prison for quite a while, before being released on 125.000 Euro bail. His wife was also released. The Belgian police, according to published reports, found clear evidence of fraud, and possible the use of conflict diamonds as a means of payments and money laundering.
Kassim serves also chairman of Luanda-based Golfrate Holdings (Angola) Lda, which is believed to Angola's leading producer and distributor of essential consumer goods. Employing over 1,400 people, Kassim supplies to a wide network of retail stores, supermarkets, etc. He also owns local manufacturing units. He later expanded his interest into various other parts of Africa, moved to Angola in 1990 by opening a warehouse which grew into a karge trading company of Angola. He acquired Golfrate Holdings in 2005 from a Malawian born British citizen. In addition, he sits in various boards i.e. Congo Futur, Afri-belg, Arosfran. Another Belgian company he owns, or is related to, is Afroliner NV.
Abd Al Menhem Qubaysi is a Cote d'Ivoire-based Hizballah supporter and is the personal representative of Hizballah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. Qubaysi communicates with Hizballah leaders and has hosted senior Hizballah officials traveling to Cote d'Ivoire and other parts of Africa to raise money for Hizballah. Qubaysi plays a visible role in Hi zballah activities in Cote d'Ivoire, including speaking at Hizballah fundraising events and sponsoring meetings with high-ranking members of the terrorist organization.
Qubaysi also helped establish an official Hizballah foundation in Cote d'Ivoire which has been used to recruit new members for Hizballah's military ranks in Lebanon.
"We will continue to take steps to protect the financial system from the threat posed by Hizballah and those who support it," says Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey. "Not only is Hizballah itself a terrorist organization with global reach, it also recently acknowledged publicly that it provides support to Hamas."
Diamonds in the Hands of Hizballah
According to a U.S. government statement, "Hizballah is a Lebanon-based terrorist group, which, until September 11, 2001, was responsible for more American deaths than any other terrorist organization. Hizballah is closely allied with Iran and often acts at its behest, but it also can and does act independently. In addition, the group has been a strong ally in helping Syria advance its political objectives in the region, although Hizballah does not share the Syrian regime's secular orientation."
In a background briefing on Hizballah following the designation of Kassim Tajideen and Abd Al Menhem Qubaysi as sanctioned indviduals, the U.S.,government notes that Iran and Syria provide significant support to Hizballah, giving money, weapons and training to the terrorist organization. In turn, Hizballah is closely allied with and has an allegiance to these states. Iran is Hizballah's main source of weapons and uses its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to train Hizballah operatives in Lebanon and Iran. Iran provides hundreds of m illions of dollars per year to Hizballah.
The Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council, is the group's highest governing body and has been led by Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah since 1992. Hizballah is known or suspected to have been involved in numerous terrorist attacks throughout the world, including the suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut in September 1984.
Hizballah also perpetrated the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 en route from Athens to Rome, and has been implicated in the attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992 and a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires in 1994. The U.S. Government has indicted members of Hizballa h for their participation in the June 1996 truck bomb attack of the U.S. Air Force dormitory at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Most recently, in July 2006, Hizballah terrorists kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, triggering a violent conflict that resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties in Lebanon and Israel.
The Kimberley Process has commenced an investigation into the Guinea-Lebanon axis because of highly suspicious diamond transactions between the countries.