WASHINGTON, DC — The American intelligence community warns that Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy Hezbollah, responsible for more U.S. deaths before 9/11 than any other jihadist group, continues to operate inside the United States, where it remains determined to carry out attacks.
The National Counterterrorism Center (NCC) director echoed these concerns during a briefing with reporters this week at the State Department.
According to the U.S. military and Department of State, Iran’s narco-terrorist group is very active south of the United States in Latin America, where it generates millions in drug trafficking and other illicit activities to fund their terrorism operations in the Middle East, particularly Syria.
Nicholas Rasmussen, the director of NCC, told reporters at the U.S. State Department headquarters this week:
While I’m not here today to speak publicly about any specific or credible or imminent threat to the homeland, we in the Intelligence Community do, in fact, see continued activity on behalf of Hizballah here inside the homeland. And as you would expect, as the American people would expect, we are watching very closely for additional signs of that activity here in the homeland.
In June, as I’m sure most of you are aware, according to published criminal complaints, two individuals conducting activities on behalf of Hizballah were arrested here inside the United States, and those arrests serve as a stark reminder of Hizballah’s global attack infrastructure as well as the group’s aspirations potentially to carry out attacks here in the homeland.
The director of the NCC, a component of the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), cautioned that Hezbollah is intent on attacking the United States, telling reporters:
It’s our assessment that Hizballah is determined to give itself a potential homeland option as a critical component of its terrorism playbook, and that is something that those of us in the counterterrorism community take very, very seriously.
With all of the focus on ISIS [Islamic State] and al-Qaida, I can assure you that those of us who have focused on terrorism for the entire period since 9/11 have never taken our eye off of the Hizballah threat. We have and will continue to monitor closely Hizballah activity around the world and work aggressively to disrupt any instances of Hizballah operating within our borders.
Meanwhile, Nathan Sales, the State Department’s ambassador-at-large and coordinator for counterterrorism, acknowledged that Iran’s assistance has allowed Hezbollah to achieve global reach, noting that the jihadist group “remains one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations. It continues to commit terrorist attacks and to engage in other destabilizing activities across the globe.”
While briefing reporters alongside Rasmussen, Sales explained:
The Iranian regime has built and bankrolled Hizballah to foment instability throughout the region and across the world,” he said. “This has all come at the expense of the Iranian people, whose resources are being diverted to support Hizballah’s bloody cause, and at the expense of Lebanon, which has suffered grievously from Iran and Hizballah’s deadly partnership. The people of Iran and the people of Lebanon deserve better than this.”
Hezbollah is primarily based in Lebanon, where it receives support from the population. Taking a page from its Lebanese playbook, it has also registered as a political party in the South American country of Peru, which U.S. officials warn can be used as a launchpad for attacks.
Currently, Hezbollah operatives are deploying “to places like Iraq and to Yemen, where they provide weapons, tactics, and direction to Shia militant and terrorist groups,” said Ambassador Sales. “As you well know, the group has also deployed thousands of its fighters to Syria, where it has sustained approximately 2,000 casualties fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime.”