Rep. Royce: Hezbollah Active in Blood Diamonds

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Congressman Ed Royce, a Republican representing Orange County, California, addressed a hearing on Hezbollah’s global reach, held in Washington D.C. on September 28, 2006. During a panel hearing on international terrorism Royce chaired, he opened the hearing by saying, “The Hezbollah threat is grave indeed.”

Royce charged that Hezbollah’s network operates in western Africa, “where Hezbollah has been active trading blood diamonds.”

“Hezbollah isn’t just a menace to Israel, Lebanon, and the region,” Royce said, but added that evidence from the United States State Department concluded  Hezbollah has “established cells in Europe, Africa, South America, North America, and Asia.”

A key witness Royce brought forward to the hearing described Hezbollah’s network existing in more than 40 countries with a significant presence in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. [Guerrillas spotted in Paraguay smuggling diamonds on September 26.]

Royce chairs the International Terrorism and Nonproliferation Subcommittee. “I was in Haifa (Israel) this summer as it rained rockets on much of northern Israel. These were terrorist attacks: Rockets fired indiscriminately, intended to kill and intimidate civilians,” he said. During the hearing, other testimony concluded that Iran and Syria had not ceased arming Hezbollah, despite United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.

Additionally, Royce said there were more than 200 cases in 2005 alone where the FBI suspected Hezbollah activity within the borders of the United States — mainly this activity was linked to fundraising or  criminal activity to raise cash.

“Salim Boughader Mucharrafille, a Lebanese-Mexican operating out of Tijuana, smuggled at least 200 individuals, including Hezbollah sympathizers, into the United States,” Royce said. “Even after the 9/11 Commission report on terrorist travel highlighted this link between human smugglers and terrorists, border security efforts remain woefully neglected.”

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