50 Sunday, January 12, 2020 09:47

Trump prioritizes fight against Iran-backed narcoterrorist network Obama neglected: DEA official

The Trump administration is prioritizing the threat posed by Hezbollah and the rest of Iran’s terrorist proxy network in ways President Barack Obamas administration never did, said the DEA’s top narcoterrorism agent. John Fernandez, the assistant special agent in charge of the Special Operations Divisions Counter-Narcoterrorism Operations Center, told the Washington Examiner it was clear Trump had a stronger approach to combating and dismantling Iranian-backed terrorist operations, especially those of the Lebanese Hezbollah, and said that was good for the country’s safety.

“I think it’s safe to say that under the previous administration it was not prioritized as the threat that President Trump has prioritized it as,” said Fernandez, who has been with the agency for decades, including during the Obama administration. “And President Trump’s approach on it has been on a comprehensive scale, hitting it from every resource and every tool and every authority that the U.

S. government has — not just military, not just intelligence community, but law enforcement as well.” The DEA official pointed to ramped-up coordinated efforts from his agency as well as Customs and Border Protection and the Treasury Department and said he thought that, when comparing the Trump and Obama strategies, the “more robust approach has had a bigger effect and a bigger impact on the overall criminal network” and “a more positive effect for our national security.

” Fernandez made the comments during a discussion last week at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in response to a question about allegations that the Obama administration had slowed or stalled the U.S. governments effort to combat Hezbollah’s lucrative drug trafficking networks (dubbed “Project Cassandra”) during negotiations leading up to 2015’s Iran nuclear deal.

The special agent had little doubt Trump’s approach was more serious than Obama’s, but he said, “It’s not a black and white issue like, ‘this administration totally screwed up and everything they did was wrong,’ and I think a lot of our good investigations were being conducted during the previous administration.

” Hezbollah was founded in the 1980s in Lebanon, but it now operates on six of seven continents on behalf of Iran, from whom it receives the vast amount of its funding, although money from Hezbollah’s criminal operations makes its way back to Iran’s coffers too. Hezbollah is responsible for a spate of terrorist attacks against the United States, including the 1983 Marine barracks bombing which killed 241 U.

S. service members. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Quds Force, guided many of Hezbollah’s operations. The Iranian general, who also oversaw efforts which took the lives of at least 603 U.S. military members in Iraq, was killed in a U.S. airstrike earlier this month.

. “They killed more Americans than any other.....

News Code: 376994  |  Washington Examiner
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