Posts Tagged ‘Hezbollah’

The College for Defense of the Bolivarian Alternative of the America: Latin America’s school for dictators

Friday, May 18th, 2012

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.

Go read the whole thing.

ALBA: it’s not just for petty tyrants anymore.

UPDATE:
Hezbollah terror threat on U.S.-Mexico border is real, via American Digest.


Hezbollah in the tri-border area, Hezbollah in the tri-state area

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

For years I have been blogging on Iran’s presence in Latin America, which includes Hezbollah’s influence in the tri-border area of Paraguay-Brazil-Argentina.

Most readers probably consider this an abstraction of sorts, things happening far away that have no bearing in their lives.

In fact, this is a matter of national security important to the USA. Mitchell Silber, director of intelligence analysis for the New York City Police Department, explains why in today’s Wall Street Journal,
The Iranian Threat to New York City
As the West’s conflict with Iran over its nuclear program heats up, New York City—with its large Jewish population—becomes an increasingly attractive target.

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.

And, for what it’s worth, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi is wanted by Interpol for being behind the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires.

Cross-posted in the Green Room.

UPDATE
Linked by The Other McCain. Thanks!


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Where the coke comes from

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

This weekend’s Wall Street Journal has a must-read on drug production in Latin America
Cocaine: The New Front Lines
Colombia’s success in curbing the drug trade has created more opportunities for countries hostile to the United States. What happens when coca farmers and their allies are in charge?

What happens is that now Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia are producing the drugs:

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.

Additionally, crime, terrorism and drugs go hand-in-hand. Hezbolla’s deepening involvement in the drug trade was the subject of a New York Times report last month.

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?

UPDATE,
Linked by Maggie’s Farm. Thanks!


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The first 2012 Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Argentina Gets Loyal No. 2

A rumor: Argentina Bans Import of Blackberry and iPhone?

BRAZIL
Bad-Debt Collection Proves to Be Good Business in Brazil

CHILE
Scientists Test Tech for Mission to Saturn Moon Titan, via GoV

COLOMBIA
Colombia Urabenos ‘drug gang leader’ shot by police
Juan de Dios Usuga was killed in Choco, the north-western province which was his power base
Officials in Colombia say the alleged leader of a powerful criminal gang has been killed in a police operation.

CUBA
Cuba’s “NSA” Suspected of Aiding North Korea

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Stateless
When is a Dominican not one?

ECUADOR
Correa’s courts: Ecuador president targets police in judicial persecution

JAMAICA
Parties in dead heat on eve of Jamaica elections Daraine Luton The Miami Herald Jamaicans head to the polls on Thursday to decide between the ruling party of Prime Minister Andrew Holness and opposition leader Portia Simpson Miller’s People’s National Party. Polls indicate the race is too close to call.

LATIN AMERICA
Hizballah Fundraising and Operations in the US and Latin America

MEXICO
Homicides in Mexico 2010, via Gancho.

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico governor approves status referendum amid sharp criticism

VENEZUELA
Chavez Falls Off The Edge of the World

Chavez Entertains and Distracts Even at Christmas Time

Red page special: when populism sends people up in flames

The week’s posts:
What do you mean “seen”, kimo sabe?
National security: Why the Embraer contract?
Argentina: Cristina has thyroid cancer UPDATED
Back to the escalator
The amazing Medellin escalator


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The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 19th, 2011

ARGENTINA
Falklands Blockade Is an Act of War Toward Britain

Snif Snif: 300 Dogs stop Dollar Flight

BRAZIL
In her first year, Brazil President Dilma Rousseff cleans house

Chevron’s Crude-Oil Spill in Brazil Prompts $10.6 Billion Lawsuit

Brazil Bets Big on Wind Power

CUBA
Cuba: Images of repression

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
News host in Dominican Republic quits when station refuses to air video of politician’s bodyguard shoving a journalist

ECUADOR
Petroecuador to Ship $538 Million Worth of Oil to PetroChina in 2012

Ecuadorian government’s attempt to trademark Twitter tag portends censorship, warns blogger

FALKLAND ISLANDS
Rockhopper and Desire jump on Falklands find
Rockhopper Petroleum has unveiled another oil discovery near the Falkland Islands, sending its shares up almost 10pc.

HONDURAS
Where has La Gringa been?

LATIN AMERICA
Iran Preparing Serious Cyber Attack Against the U.S. from Latin America

Hezbollah, Yet Another Western Hemisphere Link

MEXICO
Zetas: We are not Terrorists, Nor Guerrillas
A series of public messages seemingly hung by the Zetas in the border town of Nuevo Laredo deny that the group has any plans to confront the Mexican or US governments.
via Gancho.

Why Would Mexican Drug Cartels Need Hezbollah To Launder Their Money?

Government Says Hezbollah Profits From U.S. Cocaine Market Via Link to Mexican Cartel

PANAMA
Don Ray brings hospital supplies: Container #8 Unload

PARAGUAY
La Policía brasileña confisca 13 toneladas de marihuana en la frontera con Paraguay

PERU
Peru’s Humala Passes His First Test
By lifting a blockade of a copper mine, Peru’s President Ollanta Humala upholds the rule of law and sends a strong positive signal to foreign investors.

PUERTO RICO
2 strong earthquakes strike Puerto Rico within a few minutes

VENEZUELA
What Hugo Chávez’s illness means for U.S., China

U.S. authorities probing alleged cyberattack plot by Venezuela, Iran, via GoV

Shake it, baby! Shake that PSUV tree!

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The cocaine-Hezbollah-Lebanon connection

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

The NY Times has a graph on
Money Laundering at Lebanese Bank
The chart below shows the intricate money-laundering system the Lebanese Canadian Bank used to divert money to the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, according to United States officials.

The report: Beirut Bank Seen as a Hub of Hezbollah’s Financing

At the same time, the investigation that led the United States to the bank, the Lebanese Canadian Bank, provides new insights into the murky sources of Hezbollah’s money. While law enforcement agencies around the world have long believed that Hezbollah is a passive beneficiary of contributions from loyalists abroad involved in drug trafficking and a grab bag of other criminal enterprises, intelligence from several countries points to the direct involvement of high-level Hezbollah officials in the South American cocaine trade.

The revelations about Hezbollah and the Lebanese Canadian Bank reflect the changing political and military dynamics of Lebanon and the Middle East. American intelligence analysts believe that for years Hezbollah received as much as $200 million annually from its primary patron, Iran, along with additional aid from Syria. But that support has diminished, the analysts say, as Iran’s economy buckles under international sanctions over its nuclear program and Syria’s government battles rising popular unrest.

Yet, if anything, Hezbollah’s financial needs have grown alongside its increasing legitimacy here, as it seeks to rebuild after its 2006 war with Israel and expand its portfolio of political and social service activities. The result, analysts believe, has been a deeper reliance on criminal enterprises — especially the South American cocaine trade — and on a mechanism to move its ill-gotten cash around the world.

Venezuela plays a part, too,

According to Lebanon’s drug enforcement chief, Col. Adel Mashmoushi, one path into the country was aboard a weekly Iranian-operated flight from Venezuela to Damascus and then over the border. Several American officials confirmed that, emphasizing that such an operation would be impossible without Hezbollah’s involvement.

It doesn’t end there.

Go read the whole thing.

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La amenaza Iraní

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Univision’s documentary, The Iranian Menace, on Iran’s sleeper cells in Latin America, in Spanish, (below the fold, since it starts immediately),

(more…)

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Must-watch VIDEO: Hezbollah in your back yard

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Stakelbeck on Terror: Hezbollah in Your Backyard

Watch as former George W. Bush administration officials Roger Noriega and Jose Cardenas discuss Hezbollah’s alliance with Venezuela, its new terror base in Cuba, its work with Mexican drug smugglers along America’s southern border, and more.

Prior post The Mounting Hezbollah Threat In Latin America

h/t Gates of Vienna

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The Mounting Hezbollah Threat in Latin America

Monday, October 10th, 2011

The American Enterprise Institute has an excellent report on The Mounting Hezbollah Threat in Latin America, via Phyllis Chesler,

The immediate US national security concern related to Hezbollah activity in Latin America is Mexico, where the terrorist group has ready access to the US border.

Key points:

• To ward off its international isolation and undermine US influence in the region, Iran, with its Hezbollah proxy in tow, has made a major diplomatic and economic push into the Western Hemisphere.

• Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and other radical anti-American populists have made common cause with Iran and Hezbollah in waging asymmetric warfare against the United States.

• Hezbollah’s criminality in the region has multiplied as it has established deeper relations with transnational criminal organizations.

• Evidence indicates Hezbollah is sharing its terrorist experiences and techniques with Mexican drug cartels along the US borde

Additionally,

LatinAmerican-sidebar

Long-term readers of this blog will not be surprised by most of this information, however, this is an excellent report and you must read every word. It’s also available on easy-to-print PDF format.

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More on the Iranian training camps in Latin America

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Arab Times article,
Kuwaitis Among Trainees In ‘Guards’ Latin Camp (h/t Vlad) (emphasis added)

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is allegedly training a large number of Kuwaitis, Bahrainis and Saudis in a private training camp located in Waheera, a remote area near the borders of Venezuela and Columbia, and intends to use them to carry out terrorist activities within their respective countries and other areas across the world in case Iran is attacked militarily, Al-Seyassah daily quoted a reliable source as saying.

Since the reports come from Arab-language newspapers, I speculate that the location of Waheera is actually Guajira (whose phonetical pronunciation is the same as “Waheera”) in this map,

The article continues,

The trainees are first sent to Venezuelan capital Caracas or Columbian capital Bogota via Damascus and from there, they are sent to the border region in cars, one of the militants who broke away from the Iranian group told the daily.

Reportedly, the training camp is run by some Iranian intelligence officers and others affiliated to the Revolutionary Guard in cooperation with Hezbollah and Hamas. The trainees were given courses in making bombs, carrying out assassinations, kidnapping people and transporting the hostages to other locations.

The operations are financed through the drug trade,

When asked about the financing of this militia, the source said the money Iran makes through drug trafficking and money laundering is equal to the budget of some countries. “For example, Dutch police, in cooperation with security authorities of seven other countries, arrested 17 drug smugglers in 2009 in Korasu and confiscated 2,000 kilos of cocaine from them. The huge quantity was smuggled through tankers from Venezuela to West Africa and then to Holland, Lebanon and Spain. Smugglers also transported cocaine by air from Korasu to Holland, Belgium, Spain and Jordan. The Dutch authorities had then announced that the smuggling network was linked to Hezbollah and Iran,” he added.

These reports have been surfacing recently (including Kuwaiti newspapers), but long-time readers of this blog know about the Iranian and Hezbollah presences in Latin America. Interestingly, now the reports are including Hamas.

Cross-posted at Real Clear World Blog.

UPDATE, 10 May,
Welcome, Blogs for Victory readers!

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