Lebanese convicted of financing Hezbollah in US returns home

Supporters of the Lebanese Shiite movements Hezbollah and Amal ride motorbikes as they protest a statement made by the US ambassador criticising the former group on June 28, 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 08 July 2020

Lebanese convicted of financing Hezbollah in US returns home

  • Kassim Tajideen was sentenced last year in a federal court in Washington
  • There was no immediate comment from US or Lebanese officials on his early release

BEIRUT: A Lebanese businessman serving a five-year sentence in the United States for providing millions of dollars to the militant Hezbollah group arrived Wednesday in Beirut after his early release, local media reported.
Kassim Tajideen was sentenced last year in a federal court in Washington for his role in a money laundering conspiracy aimed at evading US sanctions. He was arrested in Morocco and extradited to the US in 2017, where he was he was charged with laundering money for Hezbollah.
There was no immediate comment from US or Lebanese officials on his early release.
Lebanon’ National News Agency reported Tajideen’s arrival. A local Lebanese TV station, LBC, broadcast a video taken with a mobile phone of his arrival at the Beirut airport. He stepped out of small jet, wearing a face mask as a necessary coronavirus precaution. The video shows a man rushing toward Tajideen, hugging him and stooping down to Tajideen’s feet in celebration of his release.
A Washington federal judge had ordered the release of Tajideen in May. The National, an English language newspaper in eh United Arab Emirates, said the 64-year-old Tajideen was granted compassionate release due to health conditions and fears of coronavirus infections in prison. The US Department of Justice had contested the release.
Tajideen was accused of conspiring with at least five other people to conduct over $50 million in transactions with US businesses, in violation of sanctions that barred him from doing business with US nationals and companies because of his support for Hezbollah. Washington has designated the Iran-backed Hezbollah a terrorist group.
Tajideen pleaded guilty last December and agreed to forfeit $50 million.
In March, a Lebanese military tribunal ordered the release of a Lebanese-American held in the country for nearly six months on charges of working for an Israeli-backed militia two decades ago. Amer Fakhoury’s release raised speculation that Tajideen may be granted early release in return.
Fakhoury, 57, who had faced decades-old murder and torture charges in Lebanon, became a US citizen last year, and is now a restaurant owner in Dover, New Hampshire. US officials had called for imposing sanctions on Lebanon to pressure Beirut to release him..


Saudis warn UN of oil spot in shipping lane near decaying Yemen tanker

Updated 7 min 19 sec ago

Saudis warn UN of oil spot in shipping lane near decaying Yemen tanker

  • The UN has been waiting for formal authorization from Yemen’s Houthi movement to send a mission to the tanker
  • The UN has warned that the Safer could spill four times as much oil as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off Alaska

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia warned the UN Security Council on Wednesday that an “oil spot” had been seen in a shipping transit area 31 miles (50 km) west of a decaying tanker that is threatening to spill 1.1 million barrels of crude oil off the coast of Yemen.
The Safer tanker has been stranded off Yemen’s Red Sea oil terminal of Ras Issa for more than five years. The United Nations has warned that the Safer could spill four times as much oil as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off Alaska.
In a letter to the 15-member body, reviewed by Reuters, Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi wrote that experts had observed that “a pipeline attached to the vessel is suspected to have been separated from the stabilizers holding it to the bottom and is now floating on the surface of the sea.”
The United Nations has been waiting for formal authorization from Yemen’s Houthi movement to send a mission to the Safer tanker to conduct a technical assessment and whatever initial repairs might be feasible.
The Security Council and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have both called on the Houthis to grant access.
Al-Mouallimi wrote that the tanker “has reached a critical state of degradation, and that the situation is a serious threat to all Red Sea countries, particularly Yemen and Saudi Arabia,” adding “this dangerous situation must not be left unaddressed.”
Yemen has been mired in conflict since the Iran-allied Houthi group ousted the government from the capital Sanaa in 2014. A Saudi-led military coalition in 2015 intervened in a bid to restore the government.