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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.”
Earlier today I listened to a blogger call on tomorrow’s Center for Security Policy’s conference, Chavismo without Chavez
Frank Gaffney, Michael Braun, Former Assistant Administrator and Chief of Operations, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and Jon Perdue, Director of Latin American Programs at the Fund for American Studies, talked about tomorrow’s topics, particularly the collective threat Venezuela, Hezbollah, the FARC and Iran present to the Western Hemisphere and the US homeland.
I had the opportunity to ask Jon Perdue is it would be correct to assume that Timothy Tracy‘s detention in Venezuela (like Alan Gross‘ in Cuba) on espionage charges is orchestrated by Cuba. Perdue’s reply was yes, and both men are now political pawns of Cuba, which not only controls all of Venezuela’s intelligence services, but also the issuing of passports and ingress and egress into Venezuela.
My other question was to Michael Braun, are the direct flights from Iran to Venezuela still continuing after Hugo Chavez’s death? He replied yes.
After the CSP presentation, the call had Col. Alan West, who talked about tomorrow’s 9:30 AM-11:30 AM press conference by three families of Navy SEAL Team VI special forces servicemen,
The areas of inquiry at the press conference will include but not be limited to:
1. How President Obama and Vice President Biden, having disclosed on May 4, 2011, that Navy Seal Team Six carried out the successful raid on Bin Laden’s compound resulting in the master terrorist’s death, put a retaliatory target on the backs of the fallen heroes.
2. How and why high-level military officials sent these Navy SEAL Team VI heroes into battle without special operations aviation and proper air support.
3. How and why the military brass carries out too many ill-prepared missions to boost their standing with top-level military brass and the Commander-in-Chief in order that they can be promoted.
4. How the military restricts special operations servicemen and others from engaging in timely return fire when fired upon by the Taliban and other terrorist groups and interests, thus jeopardizing the servicemen’s lives.
5. How and why the denial of requested pre-assault fire may have contributed to the shoot down of the Navy SEAL Team VI helicopter and the death of these special operations servicemen.
6. How Afghani forces accompanying the Navy SEAL Team VI servicemen on the helicopter were not properly vetted and how they possibly disclosed classified information to the Taliban about the mission, resulting in the shoot down of the helicopter.
7. How military brass, while prohibiting any mention of a Judeo-Christian God, invited a Muslim cleric to the funeral for the fallen Navy SEAL Team VI heroes who disparaged in Arabic the memory of these servicemen by damning them as infidels to Allah. A video of the Muslim cleric’s “prayer” will be shown with a certified translation.
The press conference will be livestreamed. I’ll post a link on it tomorrow.
“True the Vote can now begin reconstruction and review of the 18th Congressional District election race between Colonel Allen West and Patrick Murphy,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “We must stop this scandalous cycle of ignoring failures in our electoral process when the campaigns and cameras go home. Understanding how failures in administration can effect elections, as we saw in St. Lucie County, will help prevent them from occurring in the future. We cannot allow slipshod standards to become pandemic across our country’s election processes – citizens can and will stand up in defense of election integrity.”
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,”
Although the United States tightened security at airports and land ports of entry in thewake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S.-Mexico border remains an obvious weak link in the chain.
Despite the near doubling of Border Patrol personnel, the Government Accountability Office found that only 44 percent of the Southwest border was under operational control.
In 2012, National Guard presence on the Southwest border was reduced to 300 soldiers.
Since October 2008, 138 Customs and Border Protection officers or agents have been arrested or indicted on corruption related charges.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) reports that there have been 58 incidents of shots fired at Texas lawmen by Mexican cartel operatives since 2009.
Experts believe the Southwest border has become the great threat of terrorist infiltration into the United States.
Iran and Hezbollah have a growing presence in Latin America.
Hezbollah has a significant presence in the United States that could be utilized in terror attacks intended to deter U.S. efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear program.
Latin America has become a money laundering and major fundraising center for Hezbollah.
Hezbollah’s relationship with Mexican drug cartels, which control secured smuggling routes into the United States, is documented as early as 2005.
If Iran’s assassination plot against the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington, D.C. had been successful, Iran’s Qods Force intended to use the Los Zetas drug cartel for other attacks in the future.
A spokesman for Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhán, told The Daily Caller his country’s government disputes a recent House GOP report alleging that Iranian and Hezbollah terror operatives are using Mexican drug cartels as a conduit to infiltrate the United States.
As Matthew Boyle points out, on October 11 last year, two men were arrested in New York and charged with taking part in an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US. You can read the full details of the plot in the Department of Justice’s report.
While its government denies these findings, Mexico is the deadliest country on earth for journalists.
If you were wondering how Hugo Chávez has been putting to use the billions of dollars Russia’s been lending him, wonder no more:
He was on TV bragging that the gun factory’s now working at full capacity, producing a rifle named Catatumbo, and a “grenade, unique in the world,” for the AK-103 automatic weapon, “produced with the help of the Russian government,”
Here’s the Catatumbo, and the cartridge for the AK-103, made with Russian cooperation; the bullet-proof vests are a joint enterprise with China, according to the video,
The following video was produced by the Maracay Services and Production Unit of the Venezuelan Military Industries Corporation (Unidad de Producción y Servicios Maracay de la Compañía Anónima Venezolana e Industrias Militares – Cavim):
President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday that Venezuela has begun to assemble Kalashnikov assault rifles with assistance from Russia and started producing surveillance drones.
Venezuela has spent billions of dollars for Russian arms and military aircraft since 2005, including 24 Sukhoi fighter jets, dozens of attack helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles.
“We are a free and independent country,” Chavez said.
Army Gen. Julio Cesar Morales Prieto, president of Venezuela’s state-run arms producer, said 3,000 AK-103 assault rifles have been assembled since Venezuela and Russia signed the 2005 agreement for the construction of a Kalashnikov assembly factory.
The factory has begun production, but construction of the facility has not yet been completed, Morales Prieto said.
The factory eventually will have the capacity to produce 25,000 rifles annually.
Chavez, a former paratroop commander, said that Venezuela has also started making grenades, ammunition and surveillance drones for its military. Three drones has been built so far, he said.
“We do not have any intentions of attacking anybody,” he said. “These projects are for defense, for peace.”
En noviembre de 2011, la Fuerza Aérea Venezolana mostró uno de los ejemplares adquiridos, un pequeño modelo bautizado como ANT-1X, e indicó que también se contaba con otro modelo no especificado. Se trata del Sant Arpía, nombre local para el «Mohajer» iraní, que Teherán también ha vendido a Hizbolá. Su uso es de vigilancia, aunque también puede guiar armamento hacia objetivos mediante láser.
(Rough translation – if you use it, please link to this post and credit me) On November 2011, the Venezuelan Air Force showed one of the purchased items, a small model named ANT-1X, and stated that it had another unspecified model. It’s a Sant Arpía, the local name for the Iranian “Mohajer”, that Teheran also sold to Hezbollah. Used for surveillance, it can also deliver laser-guided weapons.
UN sanctions clearly ban “all of Iran’s arms exports”; yet here we have it, right in our hemisphere.
Time to worry?
Upon a second review of the Noticias 24 article, I realized I left out the following information:
The calibers of the Venezuelan rifles produced are 7.62x39mm, with a range of 400 meters,
7.62x51mm, range of 800 meters,
7,62x64mm, range unspecified, but “better than a Dragonov”
They’re also planning an anti-vehicle weapon.
The cartridges for the AK-103 are “95% polymer”.
Chavez also specified his intention to sell all these “to other Latin American countries.”
Martin Arostegui, reporting for the Miami Herald, writes on Latin America’s school for dictators in Bolivia where the Iranians, Cuban, Russians, and Hezbollah meet the leftist governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and now, possibly, Argentina (emphasis added)
A year ago this month, Bolivian President Evo Morales inaugurated the College for Defense of the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA) with a speech in which he called for the expulsion of U.S. intelligence agencies, a new military doctrine based on “asymmetrical war” against “imperialism” and the “abolition” of the U.N. Security Council. He also attacked the press, calling CNN a “tool of capitalism”,
Morales spoke in the presence of Iran’s defense minister, Gen Ahmed Vahidi, who had to be rushed from the ceremony when it was learned that Argentine prosecutors were issuing an international arrest warrant over his alleged role in the 1994 Hezbollah bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.
ALBA is a Venezuelan-led association of anti-U.S. governments which also includes Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and some Caribbean island states dependent on Venezuelan oil subsidies. The fledgling alliance has been given little importance by U.S. intelligence analysts, who tend to dismiss it as a purely ideological entity.
Its 5,000-square-meter military facility outside the city of Santa Cruz, built at the cost of $2 million, remains empty, according to Bolivian defense spokesmen who say that they are awaiting “input” from other member states. One Bolivian army officer ventures to say that it is on “standby,” pending the elections in Venezuela.
Despite ALBA’s vacant real estate, it is becoming increasingly clear that member governments are in the process of forming a military and intelligence network aided and influenced by Iran that could leverage events in the hemisphere, in the absence of effective U.S. leadership.
Thousands of Cuban security advisors have played a critical role in consolidating the regime of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and have similarly assisted leftist governments in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and now, possibly, Argentina.
A Pentagon report released in 2010 also warned about the growing presence of Iranian elite Revolutionary Guard Al Qods officers in Latin America. Small Iranian advisory teams are operating with the security services of Venezuela and other ALBA nations, according to U.S. State Department officials speaking off the record.
Bolivia’s ex-defense minister, Maria Chacón, has said that the ALBA school seeks to form leadership cadres for civilian militias. The strategy of “people in arms” has long been promoted by Fidel Castro and Chávez for the ostensible purpose of resisting a U.S. invasion.
But a more immediate role for politically directed paramilitary organizations like Venezuela’s growing Bolivarian Militia may be keeping hard-line factions in power should internal struggles result from an opposition election victory or Chávez’s much anticipated death from cancer.
A Venezuelan official blacklisted by the U.S. government as a member of Hezbollah, Ghazi Nasr Al Din, directed Circulos Bolivarianos teams that disrupted opposition rallies, in many cases shooting government opponents, prior to assuming diplomatic postings in Lebanon and Syria.
The interface between ALBA and its Middle Eastern allies is such that Cuba has used its Russian-built electronic listening station to jam satellite broadcasts by U.S.-based Iranian opposition radio stations.
Iran has a proven record of using its official presence in a foreign city to coordinate attacks, which are then carried out by Hezbollah agents from abroad, often leveraging the local community—whether wittingly or not—as facilitators. Most notable are the 1992 and 1994 bombings of Israeli and Jewish targets in Argentina, which killed 29 and 85 people, respectively. The New York City Police Department, where I work as director of Intelligence Analysis, sent a team to Argentina to study the modus operandi of those attacks and to meet with Argentine security officials who worked the investigations. Coupled with open source information, this is what the NYPD learned:
Iranian agents were sent to Argentina years before the attacks, where they integrated into society and became Argentine nationals. Mohsen Rabbani is believed to have been in charge of coordinating the 1994 attack and is subject to an Interpol arrest warrant for his involvement. He first came to Argentina in 1983, where he subsequently became the main imam at At-Tauhid, an Iranian-funded mosque in Buenos Aires.
After traveling to Iran in August 1993 to participate in a meeting that allegedly gave the planned attack the green light, Mr. Rabbani returned to Argentina as a cultural attaché to the Iranian Embassy, conveniently providing him diplomatic immunity. Then, Hezbollah agents from abroad received logistical support from members of the local Lebanese-Shiite community and the Iranian Embassy to carry out the attack.
The Argentine attacks were by no means isolated incidents. Hezbollah has been tied to failed attacks in 2009 against Israeli and Jewish interests in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Turkey. Last month, Thai officials arrested a suspected Hezbollah militant for possibly planning attacks there or perhaps facilitating the movement of weapons through Bangkok.
In the New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania area,
Hezbollah and its supporters have a presence in New York and the surrounding area as well. In 2008, two Staten Island men pleaded guilty to providing material support to Hezbollah. Just down the road in Philadelphia, 26 people—including a former Brooklyn resident—were indicted in federal court in 2009 for conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group.
Lebanese-linked businesses in the tri-state area and elsewhere have been implicated in a massive money-laundering scheme benefiting Hezbollah. This scheme was revealed in a civil suit filed against several Lebanese financial institutions last December by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Meanwhile, at least 18 other Hezbollah-related cases have been brought in federal courts across the United States since 2000.
Among them, Moussa Ali Hamdan, a naturalized US citizen who lived in Brooklyn, worked in New Jersey, and is wanted in Philadelphia for exporting stolen cars to Lebanon to finance terror organizations there.
Since 2000, cultivation of coca leaves—cocaine’s raw material—plunged 65% in Colombia, to 141,000 acres in 2010, according to United Nations figures. In the same period, cultivation surged more than 40% in Peru, to 151,000 acres, and more than doubled in Bolivia, to 77,000 acres.
More important, Bolivia and Peru are now making street-ready cocaine, whereas they once mostly supplied raw ingredients for processing in Colombia. In 2010, Peru may have passed Colombia as the world’s biggest producer, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Between 2009 and 2010, Peru’s potential to produce cocaine grew 44%, to 325 metric tons. In 2010, Colombia’s potential production was 270 metric tons.
Meanwhile, Venezuela and Ecuador are rising as smuggling hubs.
Those of you who think this cocaine is only produced for consumption outside Latin America, do take note that Brazilian police say 80% of that country’s cocaine supply comes from Bolivia.
Noteworthy was a comment by Lebanon’s drug enforcement chief, Colonel Adel Mashmoushi, who stated that one path used by Hezbollah’s drug trafficking friends into Lebanon was “aboard a weekly Iranian-operated flight from Venezuela to Damascus and then over the border [from Syria].” The air bridge between Caracas and Tehran has long been a significant security concern.
Is it a coincidence that Bolivia has the largest Iranian embassy in the hemisphere, and that Ahmadinejad has visited the region five times – last week stopping in Ecuador and Venezuela?