Lebanese Businessman Sentenced to 5 Years in U.S. Prison and $50m Fine for Aiding Hezbollah

Kassim Tajideen was found guilty of laundering money for the Iran-backed group

A rally in honor of Hezbollah, May 2019.
Hassan Ammar/AP

A Lebanese business man was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay a $50 million fine for laundering money for Hezbollah, the U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday.

Kassim Tajideen, 63, had previously pled guilty to conspiracy to launder money in violation of U.S. sanctions.

Tajideen was arrested by Morroccan authorities on March 12 at Casablanca airport on an arrest warrant issued two days earlier by Interpol's Washington office for alleged fraud, money laundering and financing of terrorist activities. He was extradited to the United States.

In 2009, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Tajideen, a Lebanese citizen who also holds citizenship from Sierra Leone, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

According to the U.S., Tajideen is an important part of Hezbollah's financial operations.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Treasury sanctioned Tajideen's brothers, Hussein and Ali, for supporting the Iranian-backed terrorist organization. Further, it has been reported that Ali was a Hezbollah commander in Lebanon.

The U.S. sanctions focused on the brothers business network, including real-estate, construction, diamonds, food trade in Gambia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Angola and the British Virgin Islands.

The 2010 sanctions forbade U.S. citizens from doing business with the brothers, however their business continued to operate.

“This defendant knowingly violated sanctions and put our nation’s security at risk,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Criminal Division.

“Today’s sentencing highlights our efforts to prosecute those who violate sanctions meant to stem the flow of money to terrorists groups,” said U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia. “Our message to those who violate sanctions is that you will be found, and you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”