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Justice Dept. Reopens Hezbollah Drug Smuggling Probes

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is setting up a special task force on Hezbollah’s drug trade activities to revive investigations that languished during the Obama administration.

“The Justice Department will leave no stone unturned in order to eliminate threats to our citizens from terrorist organizations and to stem the tide of the devastating drug crisis,” Sessions said Thursday in announcing the establishment of the Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team.

The announcement follows the publication by Politico last month of an article on Project Cassandra, a probe of Hezbollah drug trafficking led by the Drug Enforcement Agency that languished toward the end of the Obama administration. Politico quoted some of the former agents who ran the project as saying that the Obama administration’s eagerness to seal the nuclear deal led it to obstruct the program. Hezbollah is an ally of Iran.

Obama officials denied that claim, saying that interagency spats and broader concerns about U.S. interests caused the problems.

“In an effort to protect Americans from both threats, the Justice Department will assemble leading investigators and prosecutors to ensure that all Project Cassandra investigations as well as other related investigations, whether past or present, are given the needed resources and attention to come to their proper resolution,” Sessions said in a statement.

“The team will initiate prosecutions that will restrict the flow of money to foreign terrorist organizations as well as disrupt violent international drug trafficking operations,” Sessions said.

 

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