WASHINGTON, DC — Hezbollah, Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy, “threatens” Americans in the U.S. homeland, Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of State (DOS), declared Thursday during his Senate confirmation hearing.
Pompeo, who served as director of the CIA until he was recently chosen by President Trump to serve as secretary of state, identified Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia as the top threats facing the United States.
Iran, meanwhile, has been on the march and has paid too low a price for its dangerous behavior. Our administration has developed a strategy to counter Iran that will raise that cost. The issues surrounding Iran’s proliferation threat are real and we, along with our allies, must deal with the long-term risk that its capability presents.
But we cannot let the nuclear file prevent us from acting against Iran’s cyber efforts or its attempts to provide missiles to the Houthis [in Yemen] to attack Saudi Arabia and Americans who travel there. Iran’s activities in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon threaten the very existence of Israel, and the global reach of Hezbollah threatens us right here in the homeland.
Iran freed American hostages for the sake of a deal and then turned immediately to holding still more. I will work for their freedom every day.
During the hearing, Pompeo stressed that the administration plans to “fix” the controversial Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), suggesting that Trump will not withdraw from the flawed agreement, reached under former President Barack Obama.
The U.S. military has repeatedly warned against the growing presence of Iran and Hezbollah in Latin America, stressing that operations linked to the Shiite entities present a menace to the United States.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, recently revealed that the number of “cultural centers” used by Iran proxies like Hezbollah to recruit members across Latin America have proliferated, nearly tripling from 36 in 2012 to “more than 100” today.
Nevertheless, to secure approval of the controversial Iran nuclear deal, former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration “derailed” a DEA operation targeting Hezbollah’s multi-million-dollar drug trafficking operations in the Western Hemisphere, Politico reported late last year.
Obama’s State Department also downplayed the Hezbollah threat, claiming that Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere was “waning” months before world powers and Iran approved the nuclear deal in July 2015.
In 2016, the U.S. military first cautioned that Hezbollah in Latin America Lebanese “maintains an infrastructure with the capability to conduct or support terrorist attacks” in the region, stressing that the challenge is evolving.
The U.S. armed forces explicitly noted this year that Hezbollah “maintains an established logistical, facilitating, fundraising and operational presence in this region that can be quickly leveraged with little or no warning.”
Despite the concerns with Hezbollah’s presence in Latin America expressed by various U.S. officials, President Trump has reportedly decided to skip the 8th Summit of the Americas in Peru during which security issues are likely to arise.
He has also decided not to travel to Colombia as planned. Recent news reports revealed that Hezbollah maintains a significant operational presence in Colombia. Trump is expected to send Vice President Mike Pence to the Summit of the Americas in his place.