ABOVE + BELOW – ASSAD AHMAD BARAKAT

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https://www.counterextremism.com/extremists/assad-ahmad-barakat

  • Assaad Ahmad Barakat
  • Assad Ahmed Muhammad Barakat
  • Assad Hassan Barakat
  • Assad Barakat
  • Hajj As’ad Ahmad Barakat
  • Jach Assad Ahmad Barakat
  • Date of Birth   March 25, 1967
  • Place of birth   Lebanon
  • Place of residence   Foz do Iguacú, Brazil; Iquique, Chile; Ciudad del Este, Paraguay (as of 2006)
  • Extremist Use of Social Media   Not determined.
  • Education   Not determined.
  • Citizenship   Lebanese
  • Arrested   06/2002: tax evasion; 09/2018: identity theft
  • Custody   Brazilian

Overview

Assad Ahmad Barakat is a U.S.-designated key Hezbollah financier who has operated in the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of South America––the region that straddles the borders of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina.* Barakat, who has close ties with Hezbollah’s leadership, was the group’s chief of military operations and fundraising in the TBA in the 1990s.* He operated Hezbollah’s financial network in the region, and owned several businesses of his own that conducted money laundering activities to generate funds for the group.* Barakat was indicted by Paraguay in 2001, and served a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence in the country after he was arrested in Brazil in 2002.* He was released from Paraguayan custody in 2009.* He is wanted by Paraguayan authorities for identity theft and by Argentine authorities for money laundering on behalf of Hezbollah in an Argentine casino. In September 2018, Brazilian police arrested Barakat near the Paraguayan and Argentine borders.*

In the mid-1980s, Barakat immigrated from Lebanon to Paraguay to escape the Lebanese Civil War.*He soon began operating several businesses based in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, including Apollo Import Export and Mondial Engineering and Construction, through which he conducted money laundering schemes to generate funds for Hezbollah.* Barakat also operated additional businesses based in Lebanon, Chile, and the United States, at times with the assistance of his brothers Hatem and Hamzi.*He also collected funds for Hezbollah by pressuring Lebanese shopkeepers in the TBA to pay a quota to the group under threat of putting their family members on a “Hezbollah blacklist.”* Barakat regularly sent large sums of money to the group in Lebanon and Iran and even personally carried funds to Lebanon, traveling with a Paraguayan passport as of 2000.*

In addition to his direct fundraising roles, Barakat reportedly served as the deputy financial director of a mosque in Brazil, as the deputy for another Hezbollah financial official, Ali Muhammad Kazan, and eventually as the primary liaison in the TBA for Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah.* He was also reportedly one of two individuals in charge of distributing counterfeit U.S. currency in the TBA.*As of 2001, Barakat reportedly traveled to Lebanon and Iran annually to meet with Hezbollah’s leadership.*

Hezbollah

Type of Organization:

Militia, political party, social-service provider, terrorist, transnational, violent

Ideologies and Affiliations:

Iranian-sponsored, Islamist, jihadist, Khomeinist, Shiite

Place of Origin:

Lebanon

Year of Origin:

1982

Founder(s):

Ali Akbar Mohtashemi—Iran’s then-ambassador to Syria; Imad Fayez Mughniyeh; Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah; Abbas al-Musawi

Places of Operation:

Lebanon, Syria, Germany, Mexico, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, Iran, United Arab Emirates

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