Beirut- A Lebanese military court on Friday charged 18 people, most of them Syrians, with transferring more than $19 million from Lebanon to ISIS in Syria and Iraq through currency exchange offices and money transfer companies.
Judicial sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged 18 people. But the state-run National News Agency said 17 people, including 15 Syrians, one Palestinian and two others were accused of belonging to ISIS, creating a money smuggling network and transferring money out of Lebanon for the terrorist group’s benefit.
According to Agence France Presse, the network had “transferred $19,300,000 to ISIS in Syria and Iraq from 2014 until now”.
A judicial source told AFP that the accused “rented currency exchange offices from Lebanese nationals at very attractive prices and began transferring money to ISIS in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria.”
“Each transfer was valued between $10,000 and $100,000… Most of the money would eventually reach ISIS’ stronghold in Mosul in Iraq, or in Raqqa, Aleppo, Palmyra, or Qalamoun in Syria,” said the source.
Lebanese security forces in early March raided currency exchange offices and money transfer companies on suspicion they had sent huge sums of money to the terrorist organization.
While money to ISIS in Iraq was transferred directly, the wires to Syria always went through Turkey first.
Lebanon’s central bank imposes strict rules on financial institutions intended to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing, including caps on the amount that can be transferred overseas without additional supporting paperwork.