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Former Israeli defense ministers points out international failure to deal with Iran

Addressing the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism’s annual conference in central Israel earlier this month, former Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon charged that the international community is not dealing with terrorist regimes like Iran because it has now become used to the status quo.

Referring specifically to Lebanon being in the clutches of Iran-backed Hezbollah, Ya’alon told the conference at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya that “the world has become accustomed to the fact that Lebanon was kidnapped by a terrorist organization operated by another country [Iran].”

One highly significant and perhaps lesser known confirmation of Ya’alon’s statement is the fact that numerous well known international banks have been caught funneling funds to Iran in contravention of international sanctions.

The MM-Law LLC counter-terrorism law firm in Tel Aviv has specifically highlighted the role that well known international high street banks have played in supporting Iran. Indeed, this Israeli firm is seeking compensation for victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism both at home and abroad from these banking institutions.

According to the MM-Law website, court documents show that Credit Suisse, for instance, “trained its Iranian clients to falsify wire transfers so that such messages would pass undetected through the U.S. financial system” between 1995 and 2006. Because of this Credit Suisse agreed to forfeit $536 million in connection with violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and New York State Law.

While Iraq and Syria lie in ruins due largely to Iran-backed terrorism and Iran’s backing of Assad, Credit Suisse continues be a leading global financial institution headquartered in Zurich. 

“According to court documents,” the MM-Law website reported, “from as early as the mid-1990s until September 2006, Barclays Bank PLC knowingly and willfully moved or permitted to be moved hundreds of millions of dollars through the U.S. financial system on behalf of banks from Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma, and persons listed as parties or jurisdictions sanctioned by OFAC in violations of U.S. sanctions.”

Barclays accepted responsibility and agree to forfeit $298 million in connection with violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and Trading with the Enemy Act.

Barclays continues to operate as a major multinational bank headquartered in London.

Other banks referred to by MM-Law include Britain’s well known National Westminster bank and France’s historic Credit Lyonnaise, both of which allegedly “continued to provide banking services, including converting currencies to U.S. dollars and easing transfer of funds to Hamas entities in Gaza and the West Bank, in violation of the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act.”

“To date, nine foreign banks have admitted to entering into criminal conspiracies with Iran to provide it with billions of dollars in violation of U.S. and international laws — all while knowing Iran was a ‘State Sponsor of Terrorism’ and a leading source of American injuries and casualties in the Iraq War,” MM-Law alleged.

In his recent address to the United Nations General Assembly 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that when sanctions against Iran were removed through former U.S. President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal, Iran would not join the international community but, rather, would “devour one country after another.”

During his own speech to the UN last week, U.S. President Donald Trump also focused on Iran, saying that its government “must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.”

On Oct. 15, Trump will have to advise the U.S. congress whether Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal or not. In his speech to the UN, Trump described the agreement as “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions” and “an embarrassment.”

It remains to be seen what will be done about it.

Meanwhile, in his own speech at the UN, Iranian President Rouhani said his nation is “unmoved by threats and intimidation.”

Karen Faulkner
Karen Faulkner is a British Israeli citizen. She has a Master's degree in Human Rights & Transitional Justice from Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

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