The US Department of Justice will investigate claims that the Obama administration shielded the Lebanon-based Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah from criminal prosecution for its drug-trafficking and gun-running operations, as part of an effort to curry favor with Hezbollah’s patron, Iran.
Last week, Politico released an investigative report citing Drug Enforcement Administration and former Treasury Department officials who claimed that the previous administration blocked the prosecution of Hezbollah officials known to be involved in the smuggling of illegal narcotics and weapons – including chemical weapons – in an effort to bring Hezbollah’s patron state, Iran, to the negotiating table.
In 2015, the US, China, Russia, France, England, and the European Union signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – better known as the Iran nuclear deal – with the Tehran regime.
In the lead up to the signing of the JCPOA, the report claims, the Obama administration systematically shut down attempts to prosecute Hezbollah officials involved in smuggling operations and money laundering – including the shipping of drugs to the US.
According to former Treasury official Katherine Bauer told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs this February that the Obama administration had “tamped down” on investigations against Hezbollah officials in an effort to placate Iran.
“Hezbollah is using so-called legitimate businesses to fund, equip, and organize [its] subversive activities. Under the Obama administration, however, these investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking the boat with Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal.”
A years-long operation by the Drug Enforcement Administration to prosecute the members of the Hezbollah-affiliated drug and weapons trafficking rings, code named “Project Cassandra”, was blocked from seeking criminal charges against a number of suspects, former officials claim – something former White House spokesman Kevin Lewis denied.
“There has been a consistent pattern of actions taken against Hezbollah, both through tough sanctions and law enforcement actions before and after the Iran deal.”
The report sparked criticism and demands for an investigation into the allegations.
Republican Congressman Robert Pittenger (R. N.C.) asked House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy to open the investigation into the claims last week.
Over the weekend, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a review of Project Cassandra in an effort to ascertain whether claims of deliberate interference by the Obama administration are valid, Fox News reported.
“While I am hopeful that there were no barriers constructed by the last administration to allowing DEA agents to fully bring all appropriate cases under Project Cassandra, this is a significant issue for the protection of Americans,” Sessions said in a statement. “We will review these matters and give full support to investigations of violent drug trafficking organizations.”