REPORT: Terrorist Groups Growing in Latin America

REPORT: Terrorist Groups Growing in Latin America

The House Committee on Homeland Security released a report detailing how Hezbollah has expanded in Latin America. The report,  “A Line In The Sand: Countering Crime, Violence, and Terror at the Southwest Border” is a follow-up to their 2006 report. 

South America has a huge Lebanese population and they are one of Hezbollah’s biggest supporters. As such, they have managed to incorporate themselves in the lucrative cocaine business. In 2008, the US and Colombia dismantled a cocaine organization that allegedly helped fund Hezbollah activities. The organization made millions and gave 12% of the profits to Hezbollah. Prosecutors in Virginia charged Ayman “Junior” Joumaa for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and money laundering charges. The indictment said 85,000 kilograms of cocaine was sold to the Los Zetas drug cartel from 2005-2007. 

Hezbollah also makes their name in weapon trafficking. Jamal Yousef, a former member of the Syrian military, was indicted in New York City in July 2009 on federal narco-terrorism charges. He was trying to make a weapons for cocaine deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), but the man was an undercover DEA agent. His weapons were stolen from Iraq and stored in Mexico by his cousin, a member of Hezbollah.

Iran’s presence in Latin America is growing mainly because of Hezbollah and their relationship with Venezuela on account of their mutual hatred of the United States. Both countries are heavily sanctioned, but they have ways to get around it. Iran uses the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and constantly reflags and changes the owners of its ships. According to the report, between September 2008 and February 2012 there were “157 name changes, 94 changes of flag, 122 changes of operator and 127 changes of registered ownership.” This tactic allows Iran to ship anything it wants to and from Venezuela. Conviasa Airlines claim they ended flights between Caracas and Tehran, but there are still regularly scheduled flights. They are called commercial flights, but tickets cannot be purchased for those flights. Both countries claim nothing illegal is happening, but the committee isn’t biting. 

These connections would make it easy to infiltrate the United States and it almost happened in October 2011 when the US foiled a plan to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the US.  Iranian Special Forces (Qods) tried to hire a member of a drug cartel to assassinate Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir for $1.5 million at a popular restaurant in Washington, DC.  Luckily an undercover DEA agent was posing as a Zeta operative and put a stop to the attack. If the attack went through there is no doubt Iran would use the drug cartels even more. 

President Obama, Secretary Napolitano, and Attorney General keep trying to tell the American public the border is as safe as ever, but this committee’s report is more evidence against that claim. America’s enemies are literally in her backyard. 


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