Members of Iran’s terror proxy Hezbollah “are moving freely” within the United States and Latin America, courtesy of Venezuelan passports issued by a Cuban company hired by Caracas, reports the UK-based Asharq Al-Awsat.
The report echoes various articles by Breitbart News, which, among other things, have highlighted that Hezbollah operatives, including the right-hand man of the head of Hezbollah in Lebanon, are using passports obtained from countries in the Americas, primarily Venezuela and Cuba, to enter the United States.
In February 2015, experts at a National Defense University (NDU) conference warned that the narcoterrorist group Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, has expanded across Latin American and into the United States.
Breitbart News recently learned that the U.S. State Department is concerned about the illicit activities in the Western Hemisphere of terrorist group Hezbollah.
Using an alternate spelling for the name of the group, a State Department official acknowledged that “Hizballah receives funding from supporters around the world who engage in a host of licit and illicit activities, some of which takes place in the Western Hemisphere.”
“Countering these activities remains a priority for the United States,” the official told Breitbart News, adding, “We continue to monitor Iranian activities in the Western Hemisphere for any destabilizing actions.”
The State Department struck a stronger tone than in 2014 when it concluded that Iranian influence in the Western Hemisphere was “waning.”
Analysts estimate that Hezbollah generates millions through drug trafficking, money laundering, and other criminal activities in the Americas.
The London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, citing Western security and intelligence sources, reports that “a number of people belonging to Iranian groups and the Lebanese Hezbollah, with suspected links to terrorism, are moving freely in the United States and Latin America using Latin passports like the Venezuelan and Ecuadoran ones.”
“According to these reports, the intelligence services in Canada and Bulgaria have recently spotted the movements of citizens of Arab origin, especially those belonging to Hezbollah as well as Iranian agents carrying original Venezuelan passports in order to move within a number of countries, especially United States, Canada, and South America,” it adds.
Anthony Dakin, the former Venezuelan Minister of Interior who currently lives in the United States, has suggested that “Venezuela has become a hub for granting passports for Iranian groups and members of Hezbollah, in order to facilitate their travel,” reports Asharq Al-Awsat.
“Antony Dakin told the media that Caracas has contracted with Cuban companies to issue mechanized and biometric passports,” continues the report.
Dakin added that Cuba gained access to data of around 80 million citizens when it signed contracts with other countries in Latin America, such as Argentina and Ecuador.
“These contracts allow Havana to issue identification papers without forgery and by using other people’s data,” notes Asharq Al-Awsat.
Misael López Soto, a Venezuelan diplomat in hiding, has accused Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro of selling visas, passports, and falsified birth certificates out of the Venezuelan embassy in Baghdad to nearly thousands of Middle East residents, including at least one confirmed Hezbollah terrorist.
A book by Spanish reporter Emili J. Blasco titled, Boomerang Chávez: The Frauds that Led to the Collapse of Venezuela, revealed that Maduro met the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, in Damascus in 2007 to discuss “drug trafficking, money laundering, the distribution of arms and issuing of passports… to terrorists.”
The book cites witnesses and Venezuelan diplomatic cables as sources of the information it contains.
After Maduro met the Hezbollah chief, at least 300 Hezbollah operatives were reportedly able to secure Venezuelan passports, which made potential entry into Canada and the United States much easier, according to the book and Argentine website Infobae.
Venezuela and its strongest ally, Cuba, have both been accused of issuing falsified Latin American passports to Middle Eastern operatives linked to Hezbollah.