WASHINGTON, D.C. — Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy Hezbollah is sending jihadists to Peru to prepare “for attacks,” warned the director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) during a Senate panel hearing on threats to the U.S. homeland.
Although the U.S. military and State Department have long warned against the threat that Iran and Hezbollah pose to the Western Hemisphere, Latin American countries have failed to register the Lebanon-based group as a terrorist organization, Breitbart News learned from Moises Vega de la Cruz, a public prosecutor for the Peruvian government specializing in terrorism cases.
Mirroring the actions of Lebanon, Peru’s Abancay province, home to the largest Muslim community in the country, has allowed Hezbollah to register as an official political party, revealed the Peruvian Latina news agency in 2016.
Lebanese Hizballah during recent years has demonstrated its intent to foment regional instability, by deploying thousands of fighters to Syria to fight for the [Bashar al] Assad regime; providing weapons, tactics, and direction to militant and terrorist groups in Iraq and Yemen; and deploying operatives to Azerbaijan, Egypt, Thailand, Cyprus, and Peru to lay the groundwork for attacks.
The group also has devoted significant resources to expanding its arsenal, including advanced rocket and missile capabilities that threaten interests along the eastern Mediterranean and across the Arabian Peninsula.
Rasmussen’s comments came during a hearing held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
The NCTC chief acknowledged that Hezbollah, or Hizballah, also operates in the United States, threatening Americans at home.
“In the [U.S.] homeland, FBI’s arrest two months ago of two operatives charged with working on behalf of Hizballah was a stark reminder of Hizballah’s continued desire to maintain a global attack infrastructure that poses an enduring threat to our interests,” he noted.
The U.S. State Department highlighted Hezbollah’s nefarious efforts in Peru in its latest assessment of worldwide terrorist activity.
“In October 2014, Peruvian police arrested Muhammad Ghaleb Hamdar, a Lebanese citizen suspected of links to Hizballah. According to reports, there was residue and traces of explosives in Hamdar’s apartment,” pointed out State in its annual Country Reports on Terrorrism issued this year.
“In April 2016, a judge extended Hamdar’s period of pre-trial detention another 15 months,” it continued. “In October, the First Criminal Superior Public Attorney requested a 30-year prison sentence for Hamdar on charges of terrorism and document forgery. Hamdar remained in pretrial detention at the end of 2016.”
Speaking during a discussion on Capitol Hill in July, Peruvian prosecutor de la Cruz revealed that Hamdar had avoided prosecution in Peru.
De la Cruz said he had appealed the decision, a claim that Breitbart News has been unable to independently confirm.
Argentinian authorities have affiliated Hezbollah with fatal attacks against the South American country’s Jewish community, including the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA)—the deadliest terrorist attack in the Western Hemisphere before September 11, 2001.
In 2016, Michael Braun, a former DEA operations chief, said that Hezbollah is generating hundreds of millions from a “cocaine money laundering scheme” in Latin America that “provides a never-ending source of funding” for its terrorist operations in Syria and elsewhere.
Peru is considered one of the top cocaine-producing countries in South America.
Hezbollah is fighting on behalf of Iran on the side of the Russian-backed dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
“Iran remains the foremost state sponsor of terrorism, providing financial aid, advanced weapons and tactics, and direction to militant and terrorist groups across the Middle East, all while it cultivates its own network of operatives across the globe as part of its international attack infrastructure,” NCTC Director Rasmussen told Senators.