Since 2001, the United States has focused on operations against Al Qaeda in the global war on terror. The Sunni terror network has been severely crippled. While numerous splinter cells exist globally and a threat remains, it is no longer as robust as it once was. Today, a shift is desperately needed in fighting terror.
Defeating Al Qaeda had numerous ups and downs. Many brave American and allied forces perished, lives were changed, and economies have been endangered. Successes resulted in numerous kill and capture missions of high-valued targets which included Al Qaeda’s leader Osama Bin Laden. Al Qaeda is now like a broken glass once filled with acid–it’s still dangerous if you step the wrong way, but so long as we clean up the mess, we are relatively safe and out of any true danger.
The danger Al Qaeda poses may no longer be as significant as yesterday, but this does not mean the United States or our allies are truly safe. The Middle East is on the brink of total collapse. The collapse mostly stems from Iranian proxy activities. Hezbollah, backed by Iranian Al Quds forces, is growing stronger and showing signs of its fortitude.
In the past two weeks, Hezbollah has been accused of operating alongside the Iranian Al Quds forces in Bahrain. Cell members have confessed to planning the assassination of numerous officials, blowing up the King Fahd Causeway, and the Saudi Embassy in Bahrain along with other vital assets. The activities of Hezbollah and Al Quds forces are not new. Unfortunately, due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States has lost focus on what has been deemed the “world’s most effective terrorist organization.”
Hezbollah is so effective that Syria’s Assad regime has begun recruiting “Party of God” operatives in an attempt to squash uprising protestors. Hezbollah and its affiliates have global reach–much farther than its neighboring Syria.
A few weeks ago, Pakistani security services solved a case involving the killing of a Saudi Diplomat following the detention of an armed cell belonging to a Shi’ite organization called Sipah-e-Mohammed Pakistan (SMP) — an organization who receives support and military training from Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah operatives.
In 2010, Jamil Nasr, a Hezbollah operative, was arrested in Tijuana, Mexico, for allegedly trying to establish a network of supporters in Mexico with reach throughout South and North America.
Hezbollah’s presence throughout the continent of Africa is obvious. They have become fruitful in the diamond trade throughout Sierra Leon, Liberia, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Inside the United States, according to July 2011 statement before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, Hezbollah is estimated to have a “minimum of fifteen active terrorist cells throughout numerous metropolitan centers stretching from New York City to Los Angeles.”
It is obvious that Hezbollah is a serious threat. They have conducted many attacks against U.S. national interests to include Khobar Towers, the Marine Embassy bombing in Beirut, the assassination of CIA Officer William Buckley and U.S. Navy Diver Robert Stethem, and much more. We became tunnel vision due to Al Qaeda’s 9-11 attack.
Al Qaeda is not dead yet; it is crippled. We should not neglect our momentum in destroying the Sunni radical threat, yet we should not neglect the remaining terror outfits that exist. Hezbollah must be next on the U.S. radar. They are moving leaps and bounds today with their operations–it is time we shift our focus to counter their activities.
Kerry Patton, a combat service disabled veteran, is a senior analyst for WIKISTRAT. He has worked in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, focusing on intelligence and security and interviewing current and former terrorists, including members of the Taliban. He is the author of Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies and the children’s book American Patriotism. You can follow him on Facebook.