A lawsuit filed to stop the United States’ funding of the Lebanese Armed Forces was just accepted on the basis of Hezbollah’s interference in the country’s military and the army’s violation of human rights on behalf of Hezbollah.
A Lebanese-American citizen, Charbel El-Hajj, filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on grounds that the latter has made “unconstitutional and illegal decisions” to provide funding to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), which the Plaintiff claims is “not independent of the control and influence of Hezbollah.”
The961 obtained the court documents.
El-Hajj’s complaint is based on three major allegations:
Lebanese Armed Forces non-execution of UNSCR1701 as all of US assistance is contingent on the execution of 1701.
Hezbollah control of Lebanese Armed Forces, namely Lebanese Armed Forces military tribunal.
Violations of Lebanese Armed Forces of the human rights of US citizens and residents.
Lebanese Armed Forces Non-Execution of UNSCR 1701
The document states: “The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 issued on August 11, 2006, required Lebanese Armed Forces to disarm Hezbollah.”
Citing the US Congress-approved Appropriation Act of 2020, the document states that funds to the Lebanese Armed Forces were made to help it “mitigate internal and external threats from non-state actors, including Hizballah” in addition to “implementing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701,” which it hasn’t.
Hezbollah control of Lebanese Armed Forces, namely Lebanese Armed Forcesmilitary tribunal
As per the Plaintiff’s complaint, “Lebanese Armed Forces’ Military Intelligence and Lebanese Armed Forces’ Military Tribunal are dedicated extensions of Hezbollah and are at the service and in control of Hezbollah.”
The document referred to Lebanese Armed Forces’ military tribunal as Hezbollah’s “tool for political repression and state-sanctioned human rights violations.”
The lawsuit the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Lebanon in 2018, which said:
“Although the military and civilian courts follow the same appellate procedures, human rights groups expressed concerns that Military Court proceedings were opaque, lacked sufficient due process assurances, and afforded inadequate review of court decisions.”
It also cited a 55-page report by Human Rights Watch titled, “The Trial of Civilians by Military Courts in Lebanon,” which “[details] abhorring human rights violation (torture, coercion, intimidation, retaliation, etc.) by Lebanese Armed Forces’ Military Tribunal.”
The document also brings up Lebanese Armed Forces’ abduction and torture of a journalist, as well as Lebanese-American couple, Lara and Elie Samaha, who were forced to withdraw a lawsuit they had filed against defendants, and which included “Hezbollah’s connected persons who live in Lebanon.”
Finally, the complaint dives into the case of former South Lebanese Army chief Lebanese-American Amer Fakhoury, saying it was inspired by the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’s profitable “hostage for ransom” scheme.
The document states that he was lured to Lebanon by Gebran Bassil to be “handed over to Hezbollah.” Fakhoury was arrested by the Lebanese Armed Forces the day after arriving in Lebanon, which he hadn’t visited in over 30 years.
According to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, while detained in unsanitary conditions, Fakhoury’s health deteriorated quickly yet he was denied proper treatment. Only after it was too late that Amer was diagnosed with Epstein Barr-Virus (EBV) related to lymphoma cancer. He was released in March this year and died five months later.
Violations of Lebanese Armed Forcesof the human rights of US citizens and residents
According to the document, the interview was done from Hajj’s residence in Portland, Oregon, and “discussed the humanitarian and economic situation in Lebanon and Hezbollah’s role in it.”
The document also reveals that after the interview, Hajj began receiving many online threats. In addition, Hajj’s acquaintances, who are outspoken about their stance against Hezbollah, were arrested in Beirut and only released after being forced to sign a pledge not to criticize Hezbollah or Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah on social media.
The document states: “Lebanese Armed Forces has been engaging on behalf of Hezbollah in systemic terrorism against the Plaintiff, invading Plaintiffs privacy, intentionally inflicting emotional distress on Plaintiff, as well as running a libellous and slanderous campaign against the Plaintiff. Lebanese Armed Forces attempted to hack Plaintiffs Twitter account to avail.”
With this, El-Hajj seeks to halt the U.S. Department of State’s assistance to Lebanese Armed Forces, which it says equates to assistance to Hezbollah.
The lawsuit was accepted by the federal judge and summons are expected to be sent out shortly.
The U.S. has long-ago designated Hezbollah as a foreign terrorist organization and has continually increased sanctions on it as well as people, businesses, and nonprofits affiliated with it.