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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mexico probes alleged Hezbollah financing-reports

MEXICO CITY, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Mexican and U.S. agents are investigating a group in Mexico that they believe is funding Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, two newspapers reported on Thursday.

Mexico started the investigation three months ago on a request from the United States, which is helping in the probe, the daily El Universal said.

The alleged cell is suspected of financing Hezbollah rather than planning attacks itself, according to the Milenio newspaper.

Milenio said the attorney general's office in Mexico has compiled a list of people and companies it believes have provided funds to support Hezbollah, but no names were given.

Lebanon's ambassador was critical.

"This is part of a fear campaign from those who believe they are fighting against terrorism," Nouhad Mahmoud told Reuters. He said he knew nothing about an investigation of a Hezbollah cell in Mexico: "We have no idea, we only saw this in the newspapers."

Mexico's government declined to comment on the reports and a U.S. embassy spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

The U.S. government considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization, although its political party made major gains in Lebanon's parliamentary elections last year and it holds two cabinet posts in the government.

Mexico has a large community of people of Lebanese descent, including prominent business leaders such as telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim, the world's third richest man.
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