The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday announced an extension of sanctions against Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based Shiite militant group, for its support of the Syrian government.
Hezbollah, which the United States has long designated a terrorist organization supported by Iran, has provided training, advice and extensive logistical support to President Bashar al-Assad's military campaign against an uprising that began last March, the department reported.
The agency accused the group of directly training Syrian government personnel inside Syria, and facilitating the training of Syrian forces by the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.
"Hizballah's extensive support to the Syrian government's violent suppression of the Syrian people exposes the true nature of this terrorist organization and its destabilizing presence in the region," Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said in a written statement announcing the sanctions.
A new cyberweapon that secretly steals bank account information from its victims was exposed on Thursday.
The sophisticated malware, discovered by Internet security company Kaspersky Labs, has been capturing online bank account login credentials from its victims since September 2011. There's no evidence it's been used to steal any money. The virus instead appears to be a spy interested in tracking funds: It collects banking login information, sends it back to a server, and quickly self-destructs.
Dubbed "Gauss," a name taken from some of the unique file names in its code, the malware appears to be a cyber-espionage weapon designed by a country to target and track specific individuals. It's not known yet who created it, but Gauss shares many of the same code and characteristics of other famous state-sponsored cyberweapons, including Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame.
Those viruses are widely believed to have been developed by the U.S. government. But unlike Stuxnet and Flame, which targeted an Iranian nuclear facility and spied on Iran's government officials, Gauss seems to have primarily gone after people in Lebanon.
By Elise Labott and Michael Schwartz
Iran is in an "open war" with Israel, President Shimon Peres said Monday, as he pointed the finger at Iran and Hezbollah for last week's bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israelis.
In an exclusive interview with CNN, Peres said Israel will act to prevent further attacks.
Peres said Israel has "enough" hard intelligence to link the Bulgaria attack to Iran and its proxy Hezbollah, and believes more attacks are being planned as part of what he called an "open war against Israel."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Iran and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah movement were responsible for a number of attacks and attempted attacks against Israeli targets in Thailand, Georgia, India, Greece, Cyprus and other countries.
By Jamie Crawford
The United States on Wednesday designated a Colombian national as a terrorist for his alleged role directing fund-raising activities in the Americas on behalf of Hezbollah, a U.S. designated terrorist organization.
In addition, the Treasury Department also designated four individuals and three entities for their purported role in laundering money for Ayman Joumaa, an alleged drug trafficker and money-launderer currently under indictment by a U.S. federal court.
"The Joumaa network is a sophisticated multi-national money-laundering ring, which launders the proceeds of drug trafficking for the benefit of criminals and the terrorist group Hizballah," David S. Cohen, under secretary for terrorism and financial Intelligence, said in a written statement. "We and our partners will continue to aggressively map, expose and disable this network, as we are doing with today's sanctions."
Ali Mohamad Saleh, a Lebanese Colombian national, was designated as a "specially designated global terrorist" for his role directing Hezbollah's fund-raising activities in the Americas, Treasury said in a press release. Previously designated under separate sanctions for his role as a money-launderer for other organizations, Saleh solicited donations for Hezbollah from Colombian business owners and residents, and coordinated the transfer of those funds via Venezuela to Hezbollah's base in Lebanon. He also maintained communication with suspected Hezbollah operatives in Venezuela, Germany, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia the Treasury Department said.
By Suzanne Kelly
Hezbollah is in the United States, and according to current and former intelligence officials testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, the Iranian-linked terror group is in a prime position to launch a terrorist attack against a U.S. interest if it desires to do so.
Hezbollah cells have been operating on U.S. soil for years, but experts say their efforts have mainly been in criminal activities aimed at generating revenue for their broader efforts. But escalating tensions with Iran over its nuclear program have cast a new eye on the dozens of Hezbollah support cells that have been raising money and drawing scrutiny from law enforcement officials for more than a decade through sometimes legitimate business operations.
There is no international agreement yet on how to get humanitarian aid into Syria. CNN's Barbara Starr reports on the different options and the difficulties that surround each of them.
By Kevin Flower, reporting from Jerusalem
Four people were wounded when an explosive device attached to an Israeli Embassy van detonated near the Israeli mission in New Delhi, officials said Monday.
It was one of two explosives discovered on Israeli Embassy vehicles Monday. The other was found on an embassy car in Tblisi, Georgia, and that device was detonated in a controlled explosion with no injuries, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed both incidents on Iran, calling it "the biggest exporter of terror in the world."
Israeli Foreign Ministry personnel based overseas have been on alert in recent weeks to the heightened possibility of attacks at Israeli facilities by Hezbollah, the Lebanese Muslim militant group and political party.
Sunday was the fourth anniversary of the death of Hezbollah leader Imad Mugniyah, who was killed in a car bombing in Damascus, Syria in 2008. His death is believed by many to have been the result of an operation by the Israeli spy agency Mossad.
Read more of Kevin's reporting here
By Ivan Watson reporting from Istanbul, Turkey
The bloody internal struggle over the future of Syria is increasingly taking on a wider, regional dimension that could be seen as a proxy war times two.
At one level, it is a showdown of the old Cold War dimension, pitting the United States and other Western countries against Russia and China. But there is a second proxy battle going on, as throughout the Middle East battle-lines are being drawn between governments that support and those that oppose the al-Assad, regime based mostly on allegiance to Shiite and Sunni heritage.
Turkey - Syria's most powerful neighbor - accuses Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of massacring his own citizens. The Turkish prime minister threatened new pressure tactics in an address to Parliament.
"We will start a new initiative at this point with those countries that will be on the side of the Syrian people, and not with the Syrian regime," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Parliament. FULL POST
by Suzanne Kelly
If the devil is in the details, then Matthew M. Aid, author of “Intel Wars: The Secret History of the Fight Against Terrorism,” has written a devilish book indeed.
Widely praised for his previous look at the history of the National Security Agency, this time Aid is divulging details about the current intelligence efforts around the world.
"Someone showed me the principle national security objectives for 2012," he says over lunch in a Georgetown cafe. "It’s a list of all of the top targets for this year, and virtually every country in the world is on it."
It's an indicator of just how important intelligence relationships with other countries are if the United States is to be able to carry out its intelligence goals - all the more cause for concern as Aid carefully lays out the underlying reasons why many of those relationships are ineffective, or strained, at best.
He describes the troubled relationship with Afghanistan, saying that the Afghans, many in positions of power, have little, if any interest in advancing the U.S. intelligence effort there.
"When I was in Kabul, the former head of the Afghan Intelligence Service, told me that a new station chief had just come in," Aid recalls. "I said, 'How do I get in touch with the new CIA station chief?' And he reached into his rolodex and wrote down his home address, office address, phone number and said, ‘Tell him I said hello.’"
It takes a few moments for Aid to contain his laughter as he recounts the story. The identity and home address of a station chief in a foreign country is supposed to be a closely held secret. But then Aid sobers up when he talks about the prevalence of such attitudes in some of the world's most volatile regions. "It tells you that with the Afghan Intelligence organization, the perception is like 'we'll never be able to trust these people.'” FULL POST