Archive for the ‘Hizballah’ Category

Venezuela: Maduro negotiated for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

A new book by Emili Blasco, Bumerán Chávez: Los fraudes que llevaron al colapso de Venezuela claims that Nicolas Maduro negotiated with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela.

The article, Nicolás Maduro negoció con Hizbolá la presencia de sus milicianos en Venezuela
Se entrevistó con su líder Nasralá para hablar de narcotráfico, blanqueo de dinero, suministro de armas y entrega de pasaportes
(Nicolás Maduro negotiated with Hezbollah its militia’s presence in Venezuela
He discussed with its leader Nasrallah drug trafficking, money laundering, supplying weapons and passports), by Blasco, the book’s author and Washington, D.C. correspondent for Spanish daily ABC, explains that the meeting, orchestrated by Hugo Chavez, took place in Damascus in 2007 when Maduro was Foreign Minister.

La cita en Damasco fue probablemente resultado de las conversaciones mantenidas en enero de 2007 por Chávez y el presidente iraní, Mahmud Ahmadineyad, que significaron un salto en la cooperación de Venezuela con los intereses del radicalismo islámico. En marzo de ese año entró en servicio un vuelo semanal entre Caracas y Teherán, con escala en una base militar de Damasco, lo que puso el Caribe más rápidamente al alcance de Hizbolá.

[my translation] The appointment in Damascus likely came about from January, 2007, conversations between Chavez and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which bounced up cooperation between Venezuela and Islamic state interests. On March that year, direct flights started between Caracas and Teheran, with a stop at a military base in Damascus, which placed the Caribbean at Hezbollah’s closer reach.

(h/t HACER)

—————————————

In other Venezuelan news, the government is using posters of opposition leader Henrique Capriles for target practice at the Universidad Nacional Experimental de la Seguridad military college.

UPDATE
Linked to by Frontpage. Thank you!

[Post corrected for misspelling]

Iran no longer on Terror Threat List. Many in LatAm will be happy.

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

This week’s “smart diplomacy” news:
U.S. Omits Iran and Hezbollah From Terror Threat List

An annual security assessment presented to the U.S. Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, has excluded Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah from its list of terror threats to U.S. interests, despite both being consistently included as threats in previous years.
. . .
In a previous report from January 2014, Clapper included Iran and Hezbollah in the ‘Terrorism’ section, writing that both “continue to directly threaten the interests of U.S. allies. Hizballah [sic] has increased its global terrorist activity in recent years to a level that we have not seen since the 1990s”. Iran was also given its own sub-heading in the ‘Terrorism’ section of such assessments in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Any evidence that Iran and Hezbollah have changed their ways?

No; instead,

“I think that we are looking at a quid pro quo, where Iran helps us with counter-terrorism and we facilitate their nuclear ambitions and cut down on our labelling of them as terrorists,” says [professor of political science at Northeastern University and member at the Council of Foreign Relations Max] Abrahms.

In the wake of Alberto Nisman‘s death, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect some smiling faces in Argentina. As you may recall, a congressional committee had invited him to testify [in 2013] about Iran’s spy network in Latin America and its alleged role in a plot to bomb John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

Last December, the government fired a powerful spy chief who was Nisman’s lead investigator. The prosecutor retaliated with a bombshell: He accused the president, her foreign minister and other political figures of conspiring to absolve the accused Iranians in exchange for commercial deals. Iranian diplomat Mohsen Rabbani, a top suspect in the 1994 attack, participated in secret talks, according to Nisman’s criminal complaint.

Argentine spies “negotiated with Mohsen Rabbani,” an indignant Nisman said in a television interview on Jan. 14. “Not just with the state that protects the terrorists, but also with the terrorists.”

The Argentine government denied his allegations.

Indeed, back in 2006,

Nisman charged senior Iranian officials and leaders of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah with plotting the AMIA attack

Some others at the Tri-border area will be happy.

Let’s not forget Venezuela, which for years has been helping Iran dodge UN sanctions and use Venezuelan aircraft to ship missile parts to Syria. The monthly flight allegedly

flew from Caracas carrying cocaine to be distributed to Hezbollah in Damascus and sold. The plane then went to Tehran carrying Venezuelan passports and other documents that helped Iranian terrorists travel around the world undetected.

Of course, the regime in Cuba, where Hezbollah has established a center of operations in Cuba in order to expand its terrorist activity and facilitate an attack on an Israeli target in South America, is already happy.

Related:
The Terror-Crime Nexus

Sing it!

ISIS and the open border

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Yesterday Gen. John F. Kelly of the U.S. Southern Command, testified before Congress (pdf file here) on national security risks at the open southern border:

Transnational Organized Crime.
The spread of criminal organizations continues to tear at the social, economic, and security fabric of our
Central American neighbors. Powerful and wellresourced,
these groups traffic in drugs—including cocaine, heroin, marijuana, counterfeit pharmaceuticals, and methamphetamine—small arms and explosives, precursor chemicals, illegally mined gold, counterfeit goods, people, and other
contraband. They engage in money laundering, bribery, intimidation, and assassinations. They threaten the very underpinnings of democracy itself: citizen safety, rule of law, and economic prosperity. And they pose a direct threat to the stability of our partners and an insidious risk to the security of our nation.

While there is growing recognition of the danger posed by transnational organized crime, it is often eclipsed by other concerns. Frankly, Mr. Chairman, I believe we are overlooking a significant security threat. Despite the heroic efforts of our law enforcement colleagues, criminal organizations are constantly adapting their methods for trafficking across our borders. While there is not yet any indication that the criminal networks involved in human and drug trafficking are interested in supporting the efforts of terrorist groups, these networks could unwittingly, or even wittingly, facilitate the movement of terrorist operatives or weapons of mass destruction toward our borders, potentially undetected and almost completely unrestricted. In addition to thousands of Central Americans fleeing poverty and violence, foreign nationals from countries like Somalia, Bangladesh, Lebanon, and Pakistan are using the region’s human smuggling networks to enter the United States.

While many are merely seeking
economic opportunity or fleeing war, a small subset could potentially be seeking to do us harm. Last year, ISIS adherents posted discussions on social media calling for the infiltration of the U.S. southern
border. Thankfully, we have not yet seen evidence of this occurring, but I am deeply concerned that smuggling networks are a vulnerability that terrorists could seek to exploit.

I am also troubled by the financial and operational overlap between criminal and criminal networks in the region.

Gen. Kelly also expressed concern about the presence of Lebanese terror group Hezbollah and the Iranian influence in Latin America. Hezbollah is backed by Iran.

Breitbart News reported that nearly 500 immigrants from terrorism-linked countries such as Syria and Iraq were apprehended trying to enter the U.S. illegally in 2014 alone.

Border security is national security.

Bolivia: 27 tons of ground coca seized on their way to Lebanon

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Last week I posted on Argentina as the #3 drug shipping link.

Today, Bolivian media report that 27 tons of ground coca leaves disguised as mate were seized by authorities.

The final destination? Lebanon.

Apparently the ground coke was going to be shipped from a Chilean – not Argentinian – port.

The only use for ground coca leaves is cocaine production.

A Bolivian government minister stated that this is the first time authorities seize ground coca leaves meant to be processed into cocaine outside the country. He estimated that the $350,000 ground coke would have a street value of over $90million.

Considering the political landscape in the Middle East, would it be unreasonable to assume Hezbollah is involved?

[Post edited for clarity]

Venezuela, springboard for Hezbollah

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Tarek El Aissami

The Center for a Secure and Free Society has released a report,CANADA ON GUARD: Assessing the Immigration Security Threat of
Iran, Venezuela and Cuba
which

highlights attempts to violate Canada’s immigration system, examines Venezuela’s role as a “bridge” for Iranian covert access to Canada, reviews the use of cultural exchange and other soft power strategies to win support for state sponsors of terrorism, and presents preliminary policy recommendations for strengthening Canada’s immigration and national security system

The report’s key points are:

  • Iran is cooperating with Venezuela and Cuba to exploit the seams in the Canadian immigration system.
  • From 2009 t0 2011, Latin America was the largest embarkation region for improperly documented Iranians migrating to Canada who seek refugee status.
  • Venezuelan authorities provided at least 173 passports, visas and other documentation to Islamist extremists seeking to slip unnoticed into North America.
  •  Soft power solidarity networks in Canada serve as a “Trojan Horse” for Iran and ALBA to establish cover for spies, saboteurs and other nefarious actors.

Less than a year after Canada shuttered the Iranian embassy in Ottawa, the Iranian regime opened an “unofficial” consulate in Montreal and began shuttling paperwork back and forth to the Iranian embassy in Cuba for processing.

Especially interesting: the sections on how Cuba’s role in the Misión Identidad (biometric ID cards) immigration system facilitates the entry of Cuban agents into Venezuela, and Tare[c]k El Aissami’s role as Iran, Syria and Hezbollah’s man in Mérida.

Read more about Iranian infiltration in Canada and the Americas here.

UPDATE:
Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!

Iran in Latin America: Must-read report

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center did a report in 2009 on how Iran increases its political and economic presence in
Latin America, defying the United States and
attempting to undermine American hegemony. It also
foments radical Shi’ite Islamization and exports Iran’s
revolutionary ideology, using Hezbollah to establish
intelligence, terrorism and crime networks, liable to be
exploited against the United States and Israel.

63. The Wayuus and Hezbollah Venezuela have websites and blogs which identify with the ideology of the Islamic revolution in Iran and with Hezbollah’s messages of violence, preaching hatred of the United States, Israel and the Jewish people. Postings have appearedin recent years in blogs that are still active but are not updated, possibly due to the desire to keep a low profile and be less exposed.

64. The website of an organization calling itself “Hezbollah America Latina” went online several months before Hezbollah Venezuela’s attempt to carry out a terrorist attack against the American embassy in Caracas (October 23, 2006). The website introduced itself as the
“mouthpiece of Hezbollah in Latin America.” It is written in Spanish and in a mixed Mayan-Old Spanish language. Even though it claims to operate in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, and Mexico, it mostly serves the network which runs the website, referring to itself as the Islamic Autonomy of Wayuu (Autonomia Islamica Wayuu), led by Teodoro Rafael Darnott.49

65. The Hezbollah Venezuela website preaches the complete elimination of the sex industry, and attacks the so-called “corrupt upper classes” and the so-called “corruption of the government.” The website also contains anti-Semitic and anti-American texts and articles by Holocaust deniers and Neo-Nazis.50 In recent years, blogs have appeared, written by Wayuu Muslim converts who sympathize with the ideology of the Iranian Islamic revolution and Hezbollah’s messages of violence.

While the report is five years old, the information is still relevant. Read the whole thing.

H/t Carlos Hös, who also linked. Thank you!

Colombia: Maicao, Hezbollah money-laundering center

Friday, December 20th, 2013

In the Colombia-Venezuela border town of Maicao, which is also near the Caribbean and has a free-trade zone and the third-largest mosque in the Americas, Hezbollah financing evolves beyond Colombia’s Muslim communities

Today, Hezbollah is the most powerful political movement in Lebanon — and its influence stretches all the way to Maicao. Each year, millions of dollars of drug money are laundered in Maicao, where some community members openly proclaim their support for Hezbollah. Recent U.S. Treasury Department actions have slowed the flow of cash to terrorist groups, but financiers have fled and new networks have reconstituted that are harder to identify.

This mirrors, as Spain’s ABC has reported, chavismo’s alliance with the FARC Colombian guerrilla becoming an essential factor of the illegal trade,

The way it works is a money launderer today may work for 5-10 different drug trafficking groups. Those groups in turn pay taxes or fees to terrorist groups to operate in their territories, proliferating terrorism and violence in Colombia and the Middle East. Likewise, sympathizing launderers may make sizable voluntary donations to Hezbollah.

The article states,

The launderers may not even realize they are ultimately funding terrorism organizations.

And yet, “the conversation switches to Arabic when it involves transferring drug money to terrorist groups abroad.”

It makes perfect sense for Maicao to be a location for this:

  • a commercial center because of its free-trade zone,
  • large Muslim population where Hezbollah operatives may go unnoticed
  • geographic location near both the Caribbean and Venezuela, the departing point for much of the drugs.

I wonder how this fits in with the FARC negotiations in Havana, considering the links to Colombia’s FARC, El Salvador’s FMNL, and their connection to Hezbollah.


The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, November 11th, 2013

LatinAmerThe week’s must-read? This: Documents show depth of U.S. concern over Mexico violence. As I’ve been saying for nearly a decade, border security is national security.

ARGENTINA
Argentina’s Fading Diva

Junk bond news: Specialist in Long Shots Bets on Argentina
David Martinez, head of a hedge fund that specializes in distressed debt, has made an unusual call: Invest in Argentina.

“You can see light at the end of the tunnel,” Mr. Mariscal said, “but you don’t know if it’s the train coming towards you.”

BOLIVIA
Skulls said to have miraculous qualities at the center of annual festival in Bolivia

BRAZIL
Before Global Games, Rio Is Fighting to Dim Red Light. Good luck with that.

Brazil’s oil industry
Bustista
Eike Batista’s oil firm files for bankruptcy protection

CHILE
Chile’s presidential election
Cruising back to La Moneda
A more left-wing Michelle Bachelet is set to win on a tide of social discontent

COLOMBIA
In pictures: Beyond El Dorado at the British Museum

Filling the FARC-Shaped Void

No pause in FARC peace talks for elections

CUBA
Michael Totten is Home From Cuba,

That is one truly strange place. It’s right there alongside Libya under Moammar Qaddafi in the bizarro department. I’m glad I went, but I’m even more glad to be out of there.

US hijacker William Potts returns from Cuba
An American man who hijacked a plane in 1984 and forced it to fly to Cuba has returned to the US.

ECUADOR
Indigenous peoples
Death in the Amazon

Attempt to Rehabilitate Chevron Judge Gets Very Weird

Chevron’s lead lawyer, Randy Mastro, had some success this week showing that [Ecuadorian judge Nicolas] Zambrano doesn’t seem to know very much about the record-breaking decision he supposedly rendered. When asked, the former Ecuadorian judge couldn’t name key elements of the ruling, such as the most powerful carcinogenic substance it cited or a crucial scientific study purporting to link oil contamination to human illnesses. He also struggled to explain how he was able to deploy French, American, and Australian case law in the ruling, since, as he conceded, he does not speak or read French or English.

The Chevron RICO trial grinds on

Phila. lawyer tells how Ecuador case against Chevron unraveled

GRENADA
An Army Ranger Gives an on Ground Account of the War in Grenada

GUYANA
The US Treasury as the Birthright of All Mankind

JAMAICA
BBC criticised over Jamaica Inn filming in Kirkby Lonsdale

LATIN AMERICA
From Brookings: The Upcoming Electoral Cycle in Latin America in the Midst of Social Unrest: What Lies Ahead?

MEXICO
Tunnel for Smuggling Found Under U.S.-Mexico Border; Tons of Drugs Seized
The sophisticated underground passageway featured electricity, ventilation and an electronic rail system and took about a year to build, officials said.

Documents show depth of U.S. concern over Mexico violence

NICARAGUA
Sandinista Constitutional reforms will institutionalize first lady’s precepts of ‘Christian, socialist and solidarity’ via Boz

  • Increases government control over radio, television, telephone and internet services, including requirements for local control and data storage.
  • Institutionalizes various FSLN organizations into the government and constitution, further merging the government and party (which would have serious repercussions if the FSLN did lose an election some day in the future, in that the party would still retain control over aspects of government).

PANAMA
Panama Canal’s LNG Surprise to Redefine Trade in Fuel: Freight

LNG carriers will cross the 48-mile waterway 350 times a year, and voyages to Asia from the U.S. will cost 24 percent less than longer routes, according to calculations from the canal authority. The expected 12 million tons, assuming half the transits are hauling cargoes, would be equal to about 5 percent of the world’s trade in 2012, Fearnley Consultants AS estimates.

The U.S., now the world’s largest producer of natural gas because of the extraction of fuel from shale rocks, will account for much of that traffic as it becomes the third-largest exporter of LNG by 2020, Morgan Stanley estimates. With American energy independence now at a 27-year high of 86 percent, the route will boost exports to Japan, offsetting nuclear-power generation lost after the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

PARAGUAY
Paraguay says can be launch pad for Israeli technology in Latin America
With a favorable tax system, stable business environment, Paraguay could be key to providing Israeli innovators with access to broader Latin markets, says Paraguayan minister.

PERU
Peru’s central bank sees gloomier economic growth

PUERTO RICO
De Blasio, in Puerto Rico, Finds Relaxation and Fellow Red Sox Fans

On Vacation, With Politics
Mayor-elect de Blasio Attends Somos El Futuro Conference in Puerto Rico

Is Puerto Rico the next Greece? Nest eggs could suffer

La Mallorquina, open since 1848, closed:

My grandparents used to take the family (of 12!) to eat there in the 1920s and ’30s.

SURINAME
Suriname leader’s son on terror charges
The son of Suriname’s president is charged by the United States with attempting to provide material support to the Shia militant group Hezbollah.

VENEZUELA
Desperation News and Views

Miami Herald reporter held for second night in Venezuela while covering economic crisis; he was released on Saturday and is back in the USA.

Real life: Venezuela’s Maduro orders military occupation… of electronics stores

John Hinderaker watches the pageants and posts lots of pictures: MISS UNIVERSE: A FINAL PREVIEW [UPDATED WITH RESULTS]

The week’s posts and podcast:
Chile: Left turn coming up

Venezuela burns down Mexican plane

Obama makes campaign stop, meets Coco & Berta

Venezuela: Entire medical system collapsing

Chile: Neruda wasn’t poisoned

Venezuela: ADS in the slums

Latin America: Mexico and the Expanding Hemispheric Crime and Terror Crises

Colombia: Things are about to get worse

Mexico: Templars, Inc.

Cuba: The FARC rides the yacht

Podcast:
With Jerry Brewer on Silvio Canto’s podcast


Roundup: More on Iran in Latin America

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Following up on yesterday’s post on Iran’s infiltration in Latin America,


Demonstrators holding photos of the 85 people who died in the 1994 AMIA bombing

BBC: Iran ‘in Latin America terror plot’ – Argentina prosecutor
An Argentine prosecutor has accused Iran of trying to infiltrate countries in Latin America to sponsor and carry out “terrorist activities”.

AP: Argentine Prosecutor: Iran Infiltrating Continent

NYT: Prosecutor in Argentina Sees Iranian Plot in Latin America

In his report, Mr. Nisman contended that the 1994 bombing was not an isolated event. “It has to be investigated as a segment in a larger sequence,” he said in a report summary, pointing to parallels with the case of two Guyanese men convicted in 2010 of conspiring to attack Kennedy International Airport in New York.

In that case, a former Guyanese government official, Abdul Kadir, opened himself to a claim by prosecutors in New York that he secretly worked for years as a spy for Iran when he said during cross-examination that he had drafted regular reports to Iran’s ambassador in Venezuela on plans to infiltrate Guyana’s military and police. The plot to attack the airport did not advance beyond the conceptual stage.

Mr. Nisman, who has investigated the bombing since 2005, suggested that “criminal plans” by Iran could be under development in Latin America, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Paraguay, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay.

And let’s not forget the direct flights fron Tehran to Caracas.

WSJ: Iran in America’s Backyard
Remember that botched attempt to blow up John F. Kennedy airport in 2007?

Connecting the dots, Mr. Nisman found that one of the Iranian agents in the plan to incinerate JFK—Guyanese citizen Abdul Kadir—had a “close relationship and hierarchical subordination” to Rabbini. But Kadir’s activities were supported from other countries as well. He “was very important to the plot, not only because he was a successful leader, but also due to his deeply rooted connections with Iran and its embassy in Venezuela.” And he was active in countries throughout the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago; Dominica; Barbados; Antigua and Barbuda; Surinam; and Grenada. “His activity as an Iranian leader allowed him to establish and strengthen relations with other regional Islamic leaders and by 1998 he was the representative of the Secretariat of the Caribbean Islamic Movement.”

It is unlikely that either Kadir or Rabbani would have gotten as far as they did without the use of a seemingly benign activity to shield them. “The dual use of institutions controlled by the Iranian Regime, the cultural, religious and propagation activities conducted by its agents abroad and the radical indoctrination of its supporters” become operational with “the construction of intelligence stations,” the summary explains. These have “the capability to provide logistic, economic and operative support to terrorist attacks decided by the Islamic regime.”

Telegraph (h/t Gates of Vienna): Argentine prosecutor accuses Iran of establishing Latin America terrorist networks
An Argentine prosecutor accused Iran on Wednesday of establishing terrorist networks in Latin America dating back to the 1980s and said he would send his findings to courts in the affected countries.

The Economist, back in January: Argentine-Iranian relations
A pact with the devil?

US State Department: Country Reports on Terrorism 2012


Hezbollah agent issued Venezuelan diplomatic passport

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

El Nuevo Herald reports (link in Spanish) that Ghazi Nasr al Din, in charge of all Hezbollah operations in Venezuela, served as business attache in the Venezuelan embassy in Syria. Nicolas Maduro, now president of Venezuela, was his contact, and allegedly provided Nasr al Din’s cover.

A 2008 US Treasury report stated that Nasr al Din was a Hezbollah agent who used his post as a Venezuelan diplomat to carry out essential fundraising efforts for Hezbollah.

The Herald’s sources indicated that Nasr al Din reported directly to then-Vice-president Maduro, bypassing the minister for Middle East affairs, and arranged travel to Iran for training.

In related news, Roger Noriega, a former United States ambassador and assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, has alleged that

Iran has illegally laundered billions of dollars through the Venezuelan financial sector and is currently stashing “hundreds of millions” of dollars in “virtually every Venezuelan bank today,”

Long-term readers of this blog may recall that in 2008 Italian newspaper La Stampa exposed how Iran was using Venezuela to bypass UN sanctions.