Poland busts migrant smugglers suspected of funding Hezbollah


Poland has dismantled an alleged migrant trafficking network at the Polish-Belarusian border which was suspected of providing millions of dollars in financing to armed groups like Hezbollah, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Thirty-six Polish, Ukrainian, Iraqi and Belarusian members of the alleged network have so far been charged, they added.

"The process consisted of organizing the illegal migration of Iraqis, Syrians and Palestinians via the Polish-Belarusian border towards the German border," prosecutors said.

Prosecutors identified two alleged leaders of the network -- Syrian Ahmad R. who resides in Germany, and Mohammed A., known as Abu Josef -- as part of a joint investigation.

Ahmad R., known as Abu Noh, was arrested on April 23, according to Polish prosecutors.

The probe was led by the EU's criminal justice agency Eurojust, with German and Dutch police support.

The two leaders are also alleged to have been involved in smuggling Yemeni, Syrian and Iranian migrants via the Balkans.

Investigators examining crypto-currency flows through accounts controlled by the group leaders, totalling $581 million.

They found transfers worth at least $30 million to accounts linked to Lebanon's Hezbollah and Palestinian jihadist groups, and more than $13 million to a site subject to U.S. sanctions, according to Polish prosecutors.

Since summer 2021, thousands of migrants and refugees, mainly from the Middle East, have crossed or attempted to cross the border between Belarus and Poland.

Warsaw and the West accuse Belarus of orchestrating the influx with its Russian ally, as part of a "hybrid" attack designed to destabilise the region and the EU, an accusation rejected by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko's government.

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