Bilal Mohsen Wehbe

Bilal Mohsen Wehbe is the U.S.-designated chief representative of Hezbollah in South America, a role he allegedly undertook at the request of Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. Wehbe relays information and instructions between Hezbollah’s leadership in Lebanon and Hezbollah operatives in South America. Additionally, Wehbe has also fundraised for Hezbollah and conveyed funds from Brazil to the terrorist group in Lebanon. He has also overseen Hezbollah’s counterintelligence activities in the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.“Treasury Targets Hizballah Financial Network,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 9, 2010, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg997.aspx. As of late 2017, he continues to operate freely in Brazil, where he remains a prominent Islamic cultural leader.Emanuelle Ottolenghi, “Examining the Effectiveness of the Kingpin Designation Act in the Western Hemsiphere,” U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, November 8, 2017, http://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA07/20171108/106606/HHRG-115-FA07-Wstate-OttolenghiE-20171108.pdf

Wehbe continues his operations in Brazil unhindered, and also remains a prominent Islamic cultural leader in the region. As of November 2017, Brazilian authorities “have not interfered with his activities,” according to testimony by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.Emanuelle Ottolenghi, “Examining the Effectiveness of the Kingpin Designation Act in the Western Hemsiphere,” U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, November 8, 2017, http://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA07/20171108/106606/HHRG-115-FA07-Wstate-OttolenghiE-20171108.pdf As of May 2017, Wehbe freely serves as the imam of the Brás Mosque in São Paulo and as a leader of the Centro Islâmico no Brasil (Islamic Center of Brazil).Armando Rivarola, “EE.UU. prepara sanciones por nexos con el terrorismo,” ABC Color (Asunción), May 13, 2017, http://www.abc.com.py/edicion-impresa/politica/eeuu-prepara-sanciones-por-nexos-con-el-terrorismo-1593266.html. He reportedly regularly participates in prayers, meetings, and educational events sponsored by the latter.Emanuelle Ottolenghi, “Examining the Effectiveness of the Kingpin Designation Act in the Western Hemsiphere,” Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, November 8, 2017, http://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA07/20171108/106606/HHRG-115-FA07-Wstate-OttolenghiE-20171108.pdf Wehbe has also appeared as a lecturer in at least one public YouTube video produced by the Centro Islâmico no Brasil’s media wing, Arresala, in 2014.“O Islam Rejeita a Injustiça – Seyyed Bilal Mohsen Wehbi (Mesquita do Brás),” YouTube video, October 24, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1soz6k6ebqA. He also maintains a Facebook profile active as of January 2018, on which he posts public statements and lecture videos.“بلال وهبي‎ ‎(السيد بلال وهبي)‎,” Facebook profile, accessed January 17, 2018, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001550997469&fref=nf; “محاضرة بعنوان : المغبون والأغبن من الناس .,” Facebook video, May 2, 2017, https://www.facebook.com/100001550997469/videos/vb.100001550997469/1423895684338784/?type=2&theater.

Wehbe, a naturalized Brazilian citizen, has operated in the TBA since at least 2000. A January 2000 Radio Free Europe report stated that Wehbe led the “radical” “pro-Iranian” wing of Hezbollah in the TBA, in opposition to another pro-Hezbollah faction reported to have a more “conciliatory” attitude toward Western society.“Investigan a un libanés por terrorismo en triple frontera,” ABC Color (Asunción), December 14, 2010, http://www.abc.com.py/edicion-impresa/policiales/investigan-a-un-libanes-por-terrorismo-en-triple-frontera-196723.html; “Iran Report,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, January 10, 2000, https://web.archive.org/web/20040113090225/http://www.rferl.org/iran-report/2000/01/2-100100.html; “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups,” Library of Congress, May 2002, http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.857.8925&rep=rep1&type=pdf. Wehbe has also conducted fundraising activities for the group in the region. Following Hezbollah’s 2006 war with Israel, Wehbe and another individual raised over $500,000 for Hezbollah from Lebanese businessmen in the TBA.“Treasury Targets Hizballah Financial Network,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 9, 2010, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg997.aspx. On December 9, 2010, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Wehbe as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.“Treasury Targets Hizballah Financial Network,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 9, 2010, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg997.aspx.

According to the U.S. government, Wehbe previously worked for the office of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose regime is Hezbollah’s primary sponsor.“Treasury Targets Hizballah Financial Network,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 9, 2010, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg997.aspx. Wehbe also accompanied Hassan Khomeini, a grandson of Iran’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, on his 2015 tour of Brazil and Paraguay.Armando Rivarola, “Vinculan negocio de HC con financiamiento al terrorismo,” ABC Color (Asunción), May 11, 2017, http://www.abc.com.py/edicion-impresa/politica/vinculan-negocio-de-hc-con-financiamiento-al-terrorismo-1592474.html. Wehbe and Hassan Khomeini appear in at least one photo together.Emanuelle Ottolenghi, “Examining the Effectiveness of the Kingpin Designation Act in the Western Hemsiphere,” Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, November 8, 2017, http://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA07/20171108/106606/HHRG-115-FA07-Wstate-OttolenghiE-20171108.pdf; Armando Rivarola, “Exportación de la revolución iraní desde la Triple Frontera,” ABC Color (Asunción), May 16, 2017, http://www.abc.com.py/edicion-impresa/politica/exportacion-de-la-revolucion-irani-desde-la-triple-frontera-1593966.html. Additionally, in February 2017, Wehbe welcomed Arshad Omar Esmaeel, the Iraqi ambassador to Brazil, to the Centro Islâmico no Brasil.Emanuelle Ottolenghi, “Examining the Effectiveness of the Kingpin Designation Act in the Western Hemsiphere,” Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, November 8, 2017, http://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA07/20171108/106606/HHRG-115-FA07-Wstate-OttolenghiE-20171108.pdf

United States

The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated “Bilal Mohsen Wehbe” as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 on December 9, 2010.“Treasury Targets Hizballah Financial Network,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 9, 2010, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg997.aspx.

Return to Full Database

Take action:

Help Counter Extremism

Stay updated on the latest

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On October 23, 2017, Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) attacked two separate police posts in Mali’s Segou region and ambushed a Malian vehicle near Tenenkou. The Malian military confirmed several casualties. 

View Archive

CEP on Twitter