Last week, after Sigmund, Carl and Alfred sent me this article, Jihad in the Caribbean, which explores the subject of the Caribbean’s links to jihad – and Jamaica’s links in particular – I started to do some research. The amount of articles is huge, but the subject should be explored.
As an introduction to the subject, I’m starting with Jeffrey Goldberg’s 2002 article in The New Yorker IN THE PARTY OF GOD
Hezbollah sets up operations in South America and the United States
The article gives a description of the Triple Frontier zone — also called The Triple Border, or (pdf file) Tri-Border Area (TBA) — where Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil meet:
Roughly two hundred thousand people live in the Ciudad del Este region, including a substantial minority of Arab Muslims; in the Triple Frontier zone, there may be as many as thirty thousand. According to intelligence officials in the region and in Washington, this Muslim community has in its midst a hard core of terrorists, many of them associated with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite group backed by the Iranian government; some with Hamas, the Palestinian fundamentalist group; and some with Al Qaeda. It is, over all, a community under the influence of extreme Islamic beliefs; intelligence officials told me that some of the Triple Frontier Arabs held celebrations on September 11th of last year and also on the anniversary this year. These officials said that Hezbollah runs weekend training camps on farms cut out of the rain forest of the Triple Frontier. In at least one of these camps, in the remote jungle terrain near Foz do Iguaçu, young adults get weapons training and children are indoctrinated in Hezbollah ideology—a mixture of anti-American and anti-Jewish views inspired by Ayatollah Khomeini.
In the Triple Frontier, Hezbollah raises money from legitimate businesses but, more frequently, from illicit activities, ranging from drug smuggling to the pirating of compact disks. Unlike the other radical Islamic groups in the Triple Frontier, Hezbollah, it is said, has the capability to commit acts of terror.
In addition to drug smuggling and video piracy, the tactics include protection rackets,
At the beginning of each month, they said, a Hezbollah official named Sobhi Fayad or one of his associates would visit shops owned by Lebanese immigrants—Shiites, but also Sunni Muslims and Christians. The shop owner would be handed a certificate thanking him for the support he had provided to various Hezbollah-run charitable groups. A dollar amount would be written on each certificate—a South American investigator showed me one with the figure ten thousand dollars—and the shop owner would be expected to pay that sum. After that, the certificate would be put in his shopwindow—and no more “donations” would be sought for the remainder of the month. Otherwise, the shop owner would be warned, and then his relatives in Lebanon would be warned, that if they didn’t comply Hezbollah would spread rumors about them. “People would be told that they are spies for Israel,” one South American investigator told me. Some were beaten. “It’s a very effective system,” the investigator said.
and money laundering,
The Fayad operation was expert in laundering money. According to intelligence documents provided to me by regional investigators, Hezbollah has used traders from India to move money from Paraguay to the Middle East. The documents referred to an Indian named Rajkumar Naraindas Sabnani, who does business in the Triple Frontier and in Hong Kong; investigators allege that he arranged to ship goods to Paraguay, receiving payment far in excess of their value. After subtracting his own fee and paying for the actual goods, Sabnani wired the surplus to banks in the United States or in Lebanon. Sabnani is believed to be currently in Hong Kong.
Hezbollah’s annual budget is more than a hundred million dollars, provided by the Iranian government directly and by an international network of fund-raisers, of which, according to the article approx. 10% came from the Triple Frontier area.
Some of the funds raised were used for materials that are probably being used in the current Hezbollah attacks on Israel: (emphasis added)
Hezbollah officials in Lebanon asked the cell members in North America to buy such items as computers, night-vision equipment, mine-detection devices, global-positioning devices, and advanced aircraft-analysis software. Bell said he did not know how much of the equipment requested by Hezbollah was shipped to Lebanon. Wiretaps revealed that Hezbollah members discussed buying life-insurance policies for operatives who “might in a short period of time go for a ‘walk’ and ‘never come back,’ ” the indictment reads.
There are also Hezbollah involvement in cigarette smuggling in North Carolina, but,
The North Carolina operation is not the only Hezbollah cell to have been discovered in the United States. Asa Hutchinson, the director of the Drug Enforcement Administration, told me recently that his agents discovered a drug-trafficking ring in the Midwest that was sending some of its proceeds to Hezbollah.
The Goldberg article is the second in a series of two titled IN THE PARTY OF GOD. In the first part, also written in 2002, Goldberg asked,
Are terrorists in Lebanon preparing for a larger war?
We now know the answer to that.