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United States

US investigates whether Obama blocked Hezbollah ‘narco-terror’ investigations to aid Iran deal

US Attorney General John Sessions is looking into Obama-era cases after claims emerged about his administration meddling in investigations

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 January, 2018, 3:18am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 January, 2018, 3:18am

Us Attorney General John Sessions has ordered the Justice Department to investigate whether the Obama administration thwarted drug prosecutions related to Hezbollah for fear of jeopardising a nuclear deal with Iran.

The announcement comes as it emerges a team of prosecutors has been formed to investigate drug trafficking and money laundering - dubbed “narco-terrorism” - linked to the Iranian-backed militant movement.

The US considers Hezbollah to be a terrorist group and an Iranian proxy.

Sessions said the team will review evidence from the Obama-era Drug Enforcement Administration programme Project Cassandra.

The review was decided on in December, after Politico reported the programme had been targeting Hezbollah’s trafficking of cocaine but was stymied by Obama officials.

“The Justice Department will leave no stone unturned to eliminate threats to our citizens from terrorist organisations and to stem the tide of the devastating drug crisis,” said Sessions.

“The team will initiate prosecutions that will restrict the flow of money to foreign terrorist organisations as well as disrupt violent international drug trafficking operations.”

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President Donald Trump and Republicans have been urging the Justice Department to investigate Obama-era dealings.

Democrats say that is an effort to divert attention from the investigation on Russia meddling in the 2016 elections and allegations of collusion with the Trump campaign.

The announcement comes as the US prepares to look at sanctions against Iran.

President Donald Trump plans to extend waivers on sanctions against Iran that were suspended under the nuclear deal.

But he also intends to place new sanctions accusing Iran of ballistic missile, human rights and cyber violations.

The hope is to increase pressure on the country without breaking Obama’s nuclear agreement, two administration officials familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.