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Key Hezbollah financier pleads guilty in US

A protester holding a flag of Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group marches during a demonstration in Istanbul, Tuesday, May 15, 2018.
AP Photo/Emrah Gurel
The U.S. accused Tajideen of operating multiple Hezbollah front companies across the Middle East and Africa

Lebanese businessman Kassim Tajideen, designated by US authorities as an important financial supporter of Hezbollah, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges related to evading sanctions against him, a Justice Department statement said.

Tajideen, 63, of Beirut pleaded guilty before a Washington court and faces five years in prison and a forfeiture of $50 million if his deal with prosecutors is accepted.

He was named a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in May 2009 by the Treasury Department over his links to Hezbollah, a Shiite political party and militant group in Lebanon.

Tajideen has been detained since extradition to the United States in March 2017 after his arrest overseas, the statement added.

"We are going to keep targeting Hezbollah and other terrorist groups and their supporters, and we are going to keep winning," said Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who hailed the guilty plea.

“This is the latest example of DEA’s recent successes against Hezbollah’s global criminal support network and reflects DEA’s determination in combatting this transnational criminal organization,” said Special Agent in Charge Donovan.

Hezbollah has been a US designated terrorist group since 1997 and fights alongside the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's civil war. 

Prior to his arrest, Tajideen operated multiple Hezbollah front companies across the Middle East and Africa with his brothers Hussain and Ali Tajideen, the U.S. Treasury asserts. 

According to his plea, Tajideen conspired with at least five other persons to conduct over $50 million in transactions with U.S. businesses, in violation of the sanctions.

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