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Havoc in the Middle East backgrounder

Iran and Hezbollah’s Exploitation of Africa

The Lebanese diaspora has led some to come to Africa and engage at every level of the local economies with a clan and cash-based system kept amongst friends and family. This has helped Hezbollah gain a foothold in areas where people of Lebanese descent have migrated.   Share this:

Leveraging the Lebanese Diaspora

Much of the Lebanese diaspora business community in Africa is a source of donations and taxes for Hezbollah, and these individuals and businesses also send money to Lebanese charities and social service providers, many of which are run by or give their money to the terror group. This fact is especially evident in West African countries like Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra-Leone, where Hezbollah has long-maintained a presence for financial reasons, among others.


Furthermore, Hezbollah has been known to extract payments from the Lebanese diaspora population in West Africa. The International Monetary Fund estimated in 2008 that external remittances from the diaspora made up 20% of Lebanon’s GDP, a staggering amount.

The $2 Million dollar Plane Crash

On December 25, 2003 plane crash from Cotonou, Benin to Beirut unveiled a complicated cash smuggling operation run by Hezbollah.

A Hezbollah courier on border the flight, was found to have over $2 million on board from contributions to Hezbollah from the African countries of Benin, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

Hezbollah’s African Amusement Park

Furthermore, the US Treasure Department sanctioned four Lebanese citizens living in Gambia, Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. It also imposed sanctions on Ali and Husayn Tajideen, business partners of Kassim Tajideen (SDGT). These brothers had financial operations in West Africa, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and the Virgin Islands to funnel millions of dollars to Hezbollah.


Additionally, business figures in Nigeria have helped finance the terror group, even using venues like amusement parks and supermarkets. There are numerous examples of Hezbollah activity in West Africa for financial reasons. Imad Mughniyeh himself, for example, was spotted there on a fundraising mission after 9/11.

Blood Diamonds

Perhaps the most nefarious sources of funding in Africa are “blood diamonds,” which Hezbollah has exploited for money across the continent since the 1980s in Angola, Burkina Faso, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Namibia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Kassim Tajideen actually owns Congo future and facilitates diamond trade for Hezbollah in Africa. In Sierra Leone, for example, the majority of diamond buyers are Lebanese.

Hezbollah has also introduced al-Qaeda to the African diamond trade.

Weapons Transport and Bases for Terror Operations

Beyond finances, Hezbollah uses both East and West Africa to smuggle weapons to militants on the continent to attack Israeli and western targets and to arm Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

There are several instances of Nigerians helping the terror group and Iran, including on May 30, 2013 when Nigerian authorities seized large amounts of weapons and explosives in the northern city of Kano. Hezbollah and Iran also have a strong presence in Kenya where two Iranian nationals were arrested with large quantities of explosives in Nairobi.

Such evidence illustrates how Hezbollah and Iran are using Africa to plan attacks and have a very extensive network throughout the continent. Hezbollah is also active in Somalia, where the group has reportedly offered money to Somali fighters to join the terror group.

The friendliest country on the continent is Sudan, Iran’s main African ally. Tehran is able to, often through Hezbollah, use Sudan’s port on the Red Sea to send weapons to Hamas and use the country as a safe haven.