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Iranian Khamenei’s business connection with Hezbollah exposed

Hezbollah, Al Qard Al Hasan Association, AQAH, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Counterterrorism

Iranian Khamenei’s business connection with Hezbollah exposed

Information leaked by an anonymous hacking group has reveled the business relations between Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and state-owned institutions under Khamenei’s command and Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.

Iran News Wire said, a recent report published by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) revealed detailed information on the hacked accounts in the Al Qard Al Hasan Association (AQAH) for nearly 40,000 individuals and entities, including those in Iran.

The anonymous hacking group known as SPiderZ initially exposed the information in December last year.

The Lebanese Hezbollah’s AQAH was founded in the early 1980s and has been able to expand despite international sanctions on the terrorist group.

According to FDD report, Al Qard Al Hasan Association offers three types of accounts including a basic Participation Account, a Contribution Account for well-off individuals, and a Social Cooperation Fund – a joint fund for “closely related people”, that is, family members, neighbors or business associates.

AQAH provides interest-free loans against collateral, such as gold, or against guarantee by a third party. The amount of AQAH lending was US$ 76.5 million in 2007, US$ 476 million in 2018 and US$ 480 million in 2019. The Association’s total scope of activity from 1983 until the end of 2019 amounted to US$ 3.5 billion.

The hacked documents show that among the holders of the al-Qard al-Hasan Association accounts are Hezbollah money launderers and financiers.

According to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies report, the hacked documents revealed Iranian account holders in the Al Qard Al Hasan Association, including sanctioned entities and persons of interest. These include:

The Lebanese branch of the “Martyrs Foundation,” (sanctioned by the US Treasury in 2007), Lebanese branch of the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee (aka the Emdad Islamic Charitable Committee) (sanctioned by the US Treasury in 2010), Mahan Air and Sky Gift, Iran’s largest commercial airline that supports the Islamic Revolutionary Gaurd Corps – IRGC (sanctioned by the US Treasury in 2011), Iran Air (sanctioned by the US Treasury in 2011 and in 2018), and East Star Travel Agency, a Lebanese business guide for Iran Air.

The documents also list an account for the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as an account for “the embassy”, possibly the Iranian embassy.

In addition, the documents included accounts for Iranian media entities in Beirut. Iran’s state TV, known as the IRIB had a euro account, which was sanctioned in 2013.

Iranian entities and other operatives in Lebanon included the Iranian Red Crescent, who held AQAH accounts in liras, USD, and euros.

A major Iranian account holder and depositor at AQAH is Issa Tabatabaei.

One of the earliest emissaries of the Islamic anti-Shah movement operating in Lebanon, Issa Tabatabaei, who represents Khamenei, is a revered figure in Hezbollah circles. He helped found many of the group’s institutions, such as the aforementioned Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, the Martyrs Foundation, and its al-Rasoul al-Aazam hospital, the latter two of which, along with other Hezbollah medical facilities, hold multiple accounts with the al-Qard al-Hasan Association.

Iran’s Bank Saderat’s Lebanon branch is the lone Iranian bank listed in the hack. AQAH maintains eight correspondent accounts with the bank, four in liras and four in dollars.

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An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow his on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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