- lack of basic research and/or critical thinking
- wishful thinking
- outright bias in reporting
Hezbollah, With $100 Bills, Struggles to Repair Lebanon DamageMighty philanthropic activity for a known band of terrorists who otherwise seem to be having money problems. Maybe it's that the money is not what it seems to be. Some photos of Hizbollah sites show sheets of uncut $100's while the US Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing store states that the largest denomination available as uncut sheets are $50 bills (in sheets of 16 for $900 -- a $100 premium, yes Virginia, they are printing money). Fortunately, the Blogosphere is on top of it as usual: From Brian at Snapped Shot comes these two entries: From here:
By Kambiz Foroohar
On an August morning, men in T- shirts and baseball caps guard metal barricades that block the street leading to the al-Mehdi al-Shahid high school in southern Beirut, Lebanon, black sports bags hanging menacingly off their shoulders.
Inside, other guards in jeans watch as 500 people wait for aid beneath yellow flags that bear a fist clenching a Kalashnikov assault rifle, the symbol of Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim group that fought Israel to a draw earlier in the month.
Upstairs, past posters of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, silver-haired Ali Ahmad Sharara tells a Hezbollah worker that he lost his home in Israeli bombings and now lives with his children. "It's so badly damaged that it will fall down or be pulled down," says Sharara, a former shoe factory owner.
Without hesitating, the worker reaches into a black plastic shopping bag and takes out $12,000 in a bundle of new $100 bills. Sharara, 62, pockets more than twice the average annual Lebanese salary. All told, Hezbollah may pay out as much as $180 million in cash for rent and furnishings for people made homeless after the group's July 12 kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers incited 33 days of Israeli bombing, says Riad Salameh, governor of Lebanon's central bank.
For Sharara, the payout comes after he registered with Hezbollah as a war victim just 48 hours earlier.
"If Hezbollah hadn't taken care of those who'd lost their homes, it would lose support," Lebanese Finance Minister Jihad Azour says. "Politically they had to do it."
A sudden lack of context
Now that Hezbullah has suddenly morphed into a philanthropic organization, we learn from this photograph that they are distributing approximately US$12,000 to the needy in areas destroyed by Israel. Of course, what is our intrepid photographer obviously not curious enough to know? Well, that Hezbullah has already been dinged for counterfeiting U.S. currency:
One of the most prominent and influential members of the Hizballah terrorist organization, along with two of his companies, was designated by the Treasury Department today under Executive Order 13224. Assad Ahmad Barakat has close ties with Hizballah leadership and has worked closely with numerous Islamic extremists and suspected Hizballah associates in South America's tri-border area (TBA), made up of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina...Emphasis Brian's His other entry: The latest on the Funny Money Scandal
Barakat has also been involved in a counterfeiting ring that distributes fake U.S. dollars and generates cash to fund Hizballah operations. As of early 2001, Barakat was one of two individuals reportedly in charge of distribution and sale of the counterfeit currency in the TBA.
Wow! It would seem that our original story is taking off in more directions than we'd ever imagined! For starting with a mere, "Hezbullah has been known for counterfeiting," and seeing the context of the discussion evolve into such a detailed analysis of the photographic evidence is awe-inspiring, to say the least. Once again, this proves to me that investigative journalism isn't dead:�it lives on in cyberspace, even if it's been dead in the mainstream media for a decade.What follows is a wonderful ramble. Great reading. Of course, Allahpundit weighs in: Photographic evidence of Hezbollah counterfeiting? (Update: Cameo from Scar Lady?) There seems to be an issue about the signatures on the bills. Finally, here is the US Treasury Office of Public Affairs:
With that in mind, I'd like to summarize, if I may, the discoveries of some of my fellow bloggers.
Treasury Designates Islamic Extremist, Two Companies Supporting Hizballah in Tri-Border AreaPhilanthropy my big hairy ass. Money laundering pure and simple. And not very subtle about it. A bunch of poltroons...
One of the most prominent and influential members of the Hizballah terrorist organization, along with two of his companies, was designated by the Treasury Department today under Executive Order 13224. Assad Ahmad Barakat has close ties with Hizballah leadership and has worked closely with numerous Islamic extremists and suspected Hizballah associates in South America's tri-border area (TBA), made up of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
"Today, we are designating a key terrorist financier in South America who has used every financial crime in the book, including his businesses, to generate funding for Hizballah," said Juan Zarate, the Treasury Department's Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Executive Office for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes. "From counterfeiting to extortion, this Hizballah sympathizer committed financial crimes and utilized front companies to underwrite terror."
Barakat is currently serving six and a half years in a Paraguay prison for tax evasion, and was detained in June 2002 by Brazil - at the request of Paraguay - on suspicion of tax evasion and criminal association.