July 14 (UPI) — A Lebanese businessman serving a five-year prison term for laundering millions of dollars to the militant group Hezbollah has returned to Beirut after being granted early release due to coronavirus pandemic, authorities said Monday.
In a statement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s removal operations said Kassim Tajideen, 65, arrived in the Lebanese capital via an ICE Air charter on Wednesday after entering the federal agency’s custody last month from the Federal Correctional Institute in Cumberland, Md., where he was serving his sentence.
“By removing Tajideen, ICE complements the work of our federal law enforcement partners in our shared mission to protect public safety,” Francisco Madrigal, ERO Baltimore acting field office director, said in a statement.
Tajideen pleaded guilty in December 2018 to one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments in furtherance of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and was sentenced last August. In 2017, the U.S. Treasury designated Tajideen for providing support to Hezbollah, which has been designated by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization.
Tajideen was granted early release in May and had his sentence reduced to time served as he lawyers argued he was vulnerable to the coronavirus to the opposition of the Justice Department.
“The need for the sentence imposed to reflect the seriousness of the offense and to promote deterrence by others and respect for U.S. laws around the world remains,” the Justice Department said in its court brief.
Though released, Tajideen will remain on the Treasury’s blacklist as it accused him of having been a key financial contributor to Hezbollah through operating a network of businesses in Lebanon and Africa.