The Iranian Revolutionary Apparatus and Hizbullah in West Africa

(Hudson Institute) Toulu Akerele - There has been an increase in the activities of Iranian partners and proxies in West Africa, including the outreach programs Iran and Hizbullah conduct with the Lebanese Shi'a diaspora in the region. These capitalize on weak governance as well as pre-existing international organized crime groups and smuggling routes. There is an urgent need for African countries and their partners to understand the nature and gravity of the threat posed by Iran-linked militant organizations. As a result of Lebanese fleeing wars, between 1960 and 1970, the Lebanese population in West Africa rose from 17,000 to 75,000, reaching 150,000 by 1985. Within West Africa, the Lebanese often dominate multiple sectors of the economy. Extensive fundraising operations for Hizbullah occur through Lebanese in Africa, as well as enabling it to engage in money laundering, the drug trade, and arms dealing. Hizbullah cells are surreptitiously provided cover by Iranian diplomatic offices as well as Iran's steady development of social infrastructure which is used to conceal illicit activity. There are 4 million Shi'a Muslims in Nigeria, 2 million in Tanzania, and 900,000 in Niger, with smaller numbers in the Ivory Coast, Kenya, Uganda, and Senegal. The writer is CEO of T.A.A.S. Ltd., consultant in counter-terrorism, cybersecurity and data protection.

2021-10-28 00:00:00

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