Archive for the ‘terrorism. Latin America’ Category

Venezuela: Was Iran behind the colectivos?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

From the [pdf file] WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF
JOSEPH M. HUMIRE
CO-AUTHOR
IRAN’S STRATEGIC PENETRATION OF LATIN AMERICA
BEFORE THE
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE (WHEM)
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA (MENA)
HEARING ON
“IRAN AND HEZBOLLAH IN THE WESTERN
HEMISPHERE”


To most, the Venezuelan government’s ability to brutally stifle student protests, is a capacity developed by the Cuban regime whose intelligence and military direct many aspects of Venezuela’s national security apparatus. While mostly true, this excludes another vital player that has enhanced Venezuela’s foreign internal defense, the Iranian paramilitary force known as the Basij.

In April 2009, the current Iranian commander of the Basij paramilitary force, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, accompanied then-Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar on a high-level visit to Caracas at the invitation of then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his foreign minister (now President) Nicolas Maduro. Gen. Naqdi’s role in these high-level meetings was to serve as an advisor to Venezuela’s Ministries of Defense and Interior to aid in training their civilian militias, known as the infamous colectivos’. Years later, the results of this advisory support are evident on the streets of Venezuela as the colectivos’ tactics are a step-up in its previous capabilities, to include new clandestine communication and infiltration/espionage techniques.

Gen. Naqdi, who previously served as the Iranian Police Force’s counterintelligence chief, has a long list of human rights violations dating back to the 1999 student protests in Iran.

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.

Jihad by any other name is still the same

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Old Jihad

New, improved Jihad

Read my update on Gitmo alumnus Jihad Ahmed Mujstafa Diyab, Jihad by any other name is still the same

The terrorist networks Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Two stories on terrorist networks in Latin America deserve our attention this week:
Report: Hezbollah opens base in Cuba
Shiite terror group to use operations center to launch attack on Israeli target in South America, Italian newspaper reports

and Uruguay, la guarida: etarras, islamistas, científicos asesinos, carapintadas y narcos (Uruguay, the lair: ETA terrorists, islamists, killer scientists, ultranationalists, and drug lords)

ARGENTINA
Alberto Nisman ‘was murdered and died in agony': full account of ex-wife’s revelations

Argentine foreign minister: This isn’t Dirty War
Hector Timerman says there’s no comparison between the current mystery death scandal and the country’s dark past

BARBADOS
Barbados to Receive More Swedish Support for Renewable Energy Initiatives

BOLIVIA
Bolivia Ex-Police Commander Accused of Ties to “El Chapo” Guzman

BRAZIL
Brazil Court Approves Probe of Top Lawmakers
A corruption dragnet that has jailed dozens of executives and erased billions from Brazil’s state-controlled oil giant has now snared some of the nation’s top lawmakers, deepening a crisis that’s weighing on South America’s largest economy.

CHILE
Stunning Nighttime Pictures of Chilean Volcano Erupting
Villarrica erupted earlier this week with a bang, spewing lava bombs and forcing the evacuation of thousands of people.

COLOMBIA
Rights Group Faults Colombia’s Progress on Violence
Grisly murders, disappearances and threats by drug-trafficking gangs continue to plague Buenaventura, a year after the government pledged to restore order there, a human-rights group said.

CUBA
While Conan goofed, In Raul Castro — and Barack Obama’s — Cuba, police make 492 political arrests in February

Cuba releases new photos of Fidel Castro meeting with five spies

GUYANA
Venezuela Warned Not to Interfere with Guyana’s Ocean Drilling
Caracas Cites Boundary Dispute as Neighbor Hunts for Oil

MEXICO
Mexican drug cartels
Captured capos
Few of the drug lords who terrorised the country remain at large

PANAMA
Panama: So much more than the canal

PARAGUAY
Azerbaijan Lawmakers Begin South American Tour in Paraguay

PERU
“Significant Variation” Found in Skulls From Pre-Contact Peru

PUERTO RICO
Why tax reform could be (really) bad for Puerto Rico

URUGUAY
The Slow Burn of Marijuana Legalization in Uruguay
Prohibition the Only Drug Problem, Says Reformer Diego Pieri

VENEZUELA
Venezuela to impose mandatory visas on Americans
President Nicolas Maduro says move is to control US influence

The week’s posts and podcast
Cuba: Tweet of the week

Last call to complete a survey on political blogs

Ecuador: ISIS death threats to cartoonist

En español: Las colas en supermercados venezolanos

Maradona: Before and after

Colombia: What other weapons were in the Chinese ship heading to Cuba

Argentina: Pollicita appeals dismissal of #Nisman’s suit

Please complete a survey on political blogs

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

Live feed to Netanyahu’s speech

Colombia Intercepts Shipment of “War Materiel” Headed to Cuba

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
The attack on LIBRE: What happens when Latinos don’t toe the line

What’s going on, or the consequences of “smart diplomacy”

Podcast:
Iran in Latin America, Argentina PLUS other stories with Silvio Canto, Jr.



Argentina: Pollicita appeals dismissal of #Nisman’s suit

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Federal prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita appealed the dismissal of the suit Alberto Nisman filed days before his murder:
Prosecutor Appeals Dismissal of Accusations Against Argentina’s President
Appellate court must now decide if allegations against Kirchner merit further investigation

Last month, Mr. Pollicita asked Judge Rafecas to open an investigation into accusations that Mrs. Kirchner, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, and others tried to sabotage a yearslong probe into the attack, which killed 85 people at the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, or AMIA, in Buenos Aires.

But the judge declined to investigate, saying no crime had been committed and that while an investigation might uncover additional facts they would be irrelevant to the coverup allegations.

“Only by carrying out a proper investigation and obtaining all of the facts, based on the participation of all parties, we will be able to decide if it is reasonable to file charges or, in contrast, if it the charges should be definitively thrown out,” Mr. Pollicita said in his appeal.

I hope Mr. Pollicita’s security detail can be trusted.

Colombia: Obama Elbows Into the Colombia Peace Talks – what could possibly go wrong?

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Mary O’Grady doesn’t mince words at the appointment of Bernard “Bernie” Aronson as Special Envoy to Colombia’s peace talks with the FARC:
Obama Elbows Into the Colombia Peace Talks
Meddling in the FARC negotiations advances his Cuba policy; the rest is collateral damage

God save us from politicians in pursuit of a “legacy.”

Exactly as Cuba’s Communist regime has remained unchanged,

After almost 3½ years of “negotiating” with the Colombian government, the FARC remains intransigent. Last week FARC negotiator Iván Márquez said “the surrendering of weapons is out of the question” and that for his side “there will be zero jail time.”

Likewise, just as Obama’s envoys didn’t ask for anything in return, O’Grady points out that

Colombian President Manuel Santos ’s response during the negotiations has been to offer more concessions. In December he proposed downgrading the FARC’s extensive drug trafficking from a felony to a political crime, which could carry no penalty. He has talked of letting them do “community service” in lieu of jail time for their many atrocities. Some congressmen have called for giving the FARC unelected seats in Congress.

Not only that, Santos blurted out last month he wants former FARC as cops.

What could possibly go wrong?

Argentina: #Nisman witness talks about evidence tampering

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

26yr old Natalia Gimena Fernández, in an interview with Clarin, states that

“When we were sitting at the stairs, they brought the stretcher and in that they took away the body (of Alberto Nisman). It was like 3.30 am. He was wrapped up in a black sack. They took him to the right but 15 minutes later they put him back again and took him to the left. ‘No silly, it is this way,’ they said laughing. And then, when they took him back in the apartment, I did not see where they took him out,” the witness explained as she also recalled having seen “dirty” sheets and cloths.

Fernández also saw investigators handling the binders holding the documents Alberto Nisman had been working on, having mate and croissants at the crime scene, and aparently producing five gun shells. She was even offered coffee made on Nisman’s coffeemaker.

Fernandez fears for her safety, particularly now that the burnt body of an unidentified middle-aged woman was deposited across the street from Nisman’s apartment building.

Members of the judiciary are holding a silent march. In a country where loyalty means more than truth, Cristina Kirchner’s administration says the march is tantamount to an ‘institutional coup’

—————————————

In case you missed it (in Spanish),
El Aleph Nisman
La vorágine irracional del Gobierno argentino rompió los pocos frenos que contenían su autoritarismo



Argentina: Gitmo alumnus “ready to fight”

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Today’s Capt. Louis Renault moment

comes from Argentina via Uruguay:

Syrian Jihad Ahmad Diyab, one of the six Gitmo alumni released to Uruguay last month, went to Argentina (link in Spanish), to request that that country issue asylum to other Gitmo alumni,

“I’ll never forget my comrades there, and that’s why I came here to fight.”

Diyab’s mother is Argentinian.

Here’s his interview, in Spanish, where he claimed he was just a regular guy living with his family until the Americans dragged him out of his home and sent him to Gitmo,

Thomas Joscelyn shows otherwise:

The four Syrians transferred — Ahmed Adnan Ahjam, Ali Husein Shaaban, Abd al Hadi Omar Mahmoud Faraj, and Jihad Ahmed Mujstafa Diyab — were all allegedly members of the so-called “Syrian Group.” The JTF-GTMO files describe the “Syrian Group” as “comprised of dismantled terrorist cells that escaped Syrian authorities and fled to Afghanistan (AF) in 2000.”

Part of the reporting in the JTF-GTMO files on the so-called “Syrian Group” came from the Syrian government, which was opposed to this particular group of jihadists but also eventually allied with al Qaeda in the fight against American forces in Iraq. Ultimately, in a form of blowback, that one-time alliance would fracture.

Lying (Taqiyya and Kitman)

There are two forms of lying to non-believers that are permitted under certain circumstances, taqiyya and kitman. These circumstances are typically those that advance the cause Islam – in some cases by gaining the trust of non-believers in order to draw out their vulnerability and defeat them.

This report says that Diyab also goes by the name of Abu Wael Dihab; in it an Uruguayan official asserts that “none of the former detainees has expressed the intention of leaving nor made any efforts to,” even when Diyab stated in an interview that he had no desire to return to Uruguay. None of the six have accepted any employment offers, all dropped out of state-provided Spanish lessons.

The Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas, or DAIA (Delegation of Israelite Argentinian Associations) is worried about the possibility of a new Islamist attack in Argentina, following the theft of a TOW 2 missile and 130 FAL rifles from the armed forces.

(On a lighter vein, separted at birth? Christian Bale).

Argentina: Why we’ll probably never learn the truth about the #Nisman murder

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Princeton University professor Jeremy Adelman explains it clearly, “The Nisman affair is a saga that braids together incompetence, corruption, and murder on a global scale.

The other dark shadow cast over this controversy is the history of Argentina’s intelligence services. Their origins date to the first Juan Perón government (1946–55), which enlisted Nazi war criminals to serve as Perón’s spies. During the military junta’s rule in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the services were deeply involved in repressing the opposition and colluding with neighboring dictatorships. After the return to democracy in 1983, many argued that the intelligence services needed to be cleansed or disbanded. They weren’t. In the course of the AMIA investigations, the Secretariat of Intelligence became part of the problem. One former investigator, Claudio Lifschitz, claimed he was abducted and tortured by SI agents. The intelligence services have been hoarding incriminating evidence on all sides, using it to empower a secret state within the state.

As with so many rackets, internal feuding broke out inside the SI. Some factions patronized President Fernández; others freelanced. Last December, President Fernández launched a purge. This tipped the scales. One of the ousted SI agents was the chief of operations, the murky Antonio Stiusso. Stiusso had been feeding Nisman transcripts of wiretapped conversations between top Fernández aides and senior Iranian officials about squelching the AMIA inquiry and food-for-oil bargaining. Some in the president’s circle said Stiusso was conniving with American sources in a campaign to isolate Iran.

Sure enough, the government is now saying that Nisman talked with Stiusso and they want to question Stiusso (link in Spanish), “on the nature of his relationship with Nisman,” scoring two points for creating suspicion – one on innuendo, and on politics.

It’s not clear if Stiusso has been found.

A new DNA profile has been found at Nisman’s apartment on a coffee cup, and they’re trying to determine to whom it belongs. Diego Lagomarsino, who allegedly brought Nissan his gun, has already stated he had coffee with Nisman.

Government supporters are saying Cristina Fernandez, not Nisman, is the real victim.

(h/t Babalu)

Back to Adelman,

At this stage, it is hard to know what is worse: the rot in Argentine public institutions that can’t investigate an atrocity after 20 years, the depths to which Argentine hopes for truth and accountability have plunged, or the sordid spectacle of a president personalizing a crisis she helped to create?

All of the above.

Or, as Simon Romero put it, Whodunit? In Obsessed Nation, Question Becomes Who Didn’t

UPDATE:
Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!