Friday, December 15, 2006

Dearborn, Michigan: Where Hezbollah Gets Its Laundry Done

Just last week in greater Dearborn there were two barely reported money laundering-related stories. First, Elfat El Aouar, the wife, or possibly former wife, of federal fugitive and LaShish restaurant owner Talal Chahine, pleaded guilty to helping Chahine hide restaurant revenues from the IRS when she was financial manager for the chain.

The intended beneficiaries included Hezbollah. Chahine is believed hiding in southern Lebanon.

According to the Chicago Tribune, “[u]sing a double set of books, the owner of La Shish chain of 15 restaurants evaded taxes while funneling some $20 million to the Lebanese militant force Hezbollah in recent years.”

In a related story, Imad Majed Hamadeh, of neighboring Dearborn Heights, also was just convicted for his part in a multi-million dollar smuggling ring operating in the area handling contraband cigarettes, counterfeit Zig-Zag rolling papers, and counterfeit Viagra.

Profit beneficiaries included Hezbollah.

According to federal authorities, members of the ring (18 arrested in all), “charged a ‘Resistance Tax’ in excess of the contraband cigarettes’ black market price to fund Hezbollah.” Paying the tax enables Dearborn customers to smoke knowing they aren’t only killing themselves and evading a state tobacco tax, but are helping Hezbollah kills Israeli Jews and maybe even some American military men and women in Iraq. And every now and then some Lebanese civilians.

Meanwhile, “Federal prosecutors in Michigan say Hezbollah gets more support in their area than any other Mideast terrorist group. That may have drawn Mahmoud Kourani, a Hezbollah money man, to Dearborn, Mich. after slipping into the U.S. illegally through the Mexican border. The brother of a Hezbollah general, Kourani hosted fundraisers for the Party of God before he pleaded guilty last year to materially supporting the group. He will be deported after he finishes a 54-month prison sentence.” Read more about it here, and here.

Another article in the Chicago Tribune from last summer, “They’re 100% American, and Pro-Hezbollah,” describes how in Dearborn the “community leaders say Lebanese-Americans are not supporting terrorism against the United States. Even though the U.S. government has linked Hezbollah with the deadly attack on the Marine barracks and the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in the 1980s, Hezbollah has never attacked America at home, they argue, and has shown no interest in doing so.”

Not supporting terrorism? That's a pretty weak argument, since just because Hezbollah has never attacked America at home doesn't mean Hezbollah has never attacked America. Hezbollah’s slogan is “Death to America!,” and always has been. Hezbollah has been murdering Americans since its first year of existence. Here's just part of their long record of trying to live up to it.

And a report last week from Beirut only last Sunday described “more than a half-million pro-Hezbollah demonstrators chanting ‘Death to America!'’and ‘Death to Israel!’ in the heart of downtown,” so that “the Lebanese capital seemed more like a vision of Tehran.”

Nor is Hezbollah limiting itself to Lebanon. American intelligence sources report that Hezbollah is actively assisting in training the Mahdi army in Iraq, killing, by the way, a lot of Americans.

Another report has saidthat 1,000 to 2,000 fighters from the Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias had been trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon. A small number of Hezbollah operatives have also visited Iraq to help with training, the official said.

“This should come as no surprise, really, since many of Baghdad’s Shiites were out on the streets chanting 'Death to Israel' and 'Death to America' …in a show of support for Hezbollah militants battling Israeli troops in Lebanon.

“…’Allah, Allah, give victory to Hassan Nasrallah,’ the crowd chanted.

’Mahdi Army and Hezbollah are one. Let them confront us if they dare,’ the predominantly male crowd shouted, waving the flags of Hezbollah, Lebanon and Iraq.”

No one needs to pretend any more that Hezbollah isn't getting Lebanese civilians killed, too. A new war crimes report shows how Hezbollah’s use of civilian cover, (as was reported in tiny media whispers in July and August and therefore widely ignored), was a key part of Hezbollah's strategy in its recent war against Israel.

"’[The organization's operatives] live in their houses, in their schools, in their churches, in their fields, in their farms and in their factories,’ said Mr. Nasrallah in a TV interview on May 27, several weeks before the war. ‘You can't destroy them in the same way you would destroy an army.’

“Exactly what Mr. Nasrallah means is illustrated in the testimonials of the captured fighters. Asked why Hezbollah would risk the destruction of civilian areas by firing from them, [Hezbollah fighter Hussein Ali Mahmoud Suleiman] replied that while in theory private homes belonged to ‘the residents of the village . . . in essence they belong to Hezbollah.’

"....Islamists seek to use the restraint of Western powers against them. They shoot at our civilians from the safety of their own civilian enclaves that they know we are reluctant to attack. Then if by chance their civilians are killed, they call in CNN and al-Jazeera cameras.... ”


Michael said...

I remember after 9/11, hearing that people in La Shish restaraunts stood up and cheered when they saw the news.

I also remember all the stories at the time, that this was just racism, bigotry, etc.

The more I have learned about that chain, its owner, and its patrons, the more I think that it was racism and bigotry: theirs, against everyone else.

I hope the Feds catch him soon.

Anonymous said...

I have known waiters and waitresses who used to work for La Shish in Dearborn and Livonia. They now work for other restaurants and have told me that La Shish has lost so much business that it had to let their people go. It's nice to know that the American people will quietly let La Shish die a slow death. As much as I love the food, I no longer support any restaurant that is muslim. That is not racism (as much as CAIR likes to shout that it is). I cannot stand the religion and refuse to bow down or support anything they do in any way. As an American, that is my choice.

Anonymous said...

The problem is not just with La Shish. I have lived and shopped in East Dearborn for 14 years. If shop owners see you are paying cash they give you a little discount. The cash is accepted and placed in the drawer with no receipt or record of the transaction.

This is so common - they don't even try to hide it. They figure you will be happy enough with the extra savings you will not complain.

Anonymous said...

to the xenophobes posting in the comments:

1. the cuisine isn't muslim, its Lebanese. There IS a difference between one's religion and one's culture. For example. The most populous Muslim nation in the world isn't even in the middle east, its Indonesia.

2. They prefer cash because then they don't get raped by the credit card companies on fees, not necessarily because they are terrorists.