DOJ Investigating Largest Producer of Butterball Turkeys for Ties to Terrorism

The largest producer of Thanksgiving turkeys is being investigated by the Justice Department for possible ties to the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Butterball turkeys. (Photo: © Creative Commons/Anthony Easton)
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Butterball turkeys. (Photo: © Creative Commons/Anthony Easton)

Seaboard is an international company which is the largest producer of Butterball turkeys in the United States, according to Fortune magazine. It is now being investigated by the Justice Department after allegations that the company has business relationships with senior figures blacklisted by the US government for financing the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

Investigators a looking into a Seaboard milling subsidiary in Africa which is working with a businessman named Kassim Tajideen. Tajideen was blacklisted by the U.S. State Department in 2009 and 2010 for allegedly funneling tens of millions of dollars to Hezbollah.

A meeting allegedly took place in 2012 between a Hezbollah financier and Seaboard in which the two parties discussed how to use middlemen to conceal Seaboard’s ties to Tajideen. Federal investigators are trying to determine whether that meeting took place and what occurred there.

Tajideen claims he has no knowledge of Seaboard or ties to Hezbollah and accused the Justice Department of confusing him with his brother Ali and Husayn. Ali also denied knowledge of Seaboard while Husayn claimed to have had no dealings with the company recently.

Seaboard issued an internal directive prohibiting company members from collaborating with the Tajideen brothers in 2010. If the Justice Department finds they have done so, the company will face civil penalties.

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Hezbollah is a Shiite terrorist organization based in southern Lebanon. Initially established to fight against Israel, it is currently embroiled in the Syrian civil war, where it is fighting on the side of embattled regime President Bashar al-Assad. Hezbollah and Assad are both supported by Iran. “Hezbollah gets its money and arms from Iran, as long as Iran has money, so does Hezbollah,” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in June 2016.

Hezbollah has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by both the United States and the Arab League.

Although the bulk of its funding comes from Iran, Hezbollah also has other revenue sources and takes donations from private citizens.

For more information about Hezbollah and its Iranian backers, see Clarion Project’s Factsheets: Iranian Regional Hegemony and Iranian Support for Terrorism.

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