Skip to comments.Hezbollah, Hamas Raise Money for ‘Terrorist Activities’ From Drug Trade in South America....
Posted on 06/09/2010 3:59:11 PM PDT by Mr. Mojo
(CNSNews.com) - Amid growing concern about the illicit drug trade across the U.S.-Mexico border, the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas have been linked to South American drug trafficking organizationsand the money Hezbollah and Hamas make from narco-trafficking is used to finance their organizations, according to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS).
International terrorist groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah, have also reportedly raised funding for their terrorist activities through linkages formed with DTOs in South America, particularly those operating in the tri-border area (TBA) of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina, stated CRS in an April 30 report.
As evidence that Hezbollah and Hamas are doing business with South American drug traffickers, CRS referred to comments by Anthony Placido, the assistant administrator for intelligence at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
In testimony before a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on March 3, Placido stated, Some DTOs based in the tri-border area have ties to radical Islamic terrorist groups such as Hezbollah. It is important to note that this is not an emerging threat per se, but one that has existed since the late 1980s or early 1990s, he added.
Investigations into these groups as part of DEAs Drug Flow Prevention Strategy reveal DTOs are exporting cocaine from South America to Europe and the Middle East, Placido testified. There are numerous reports of cocaine proceeds entering the coffers of Islamic Radical Groups (IRG) such as Hezbollah and Hamas in Europe and the Middle East.
Placido warned of the danger resulting from drug trafficking organizations and Islamic radical groups engaging in the lucrative cocaine trade: It can lead to an unlimited source of cheap and easy revenue to carry out potential terrorist acts, he said.
Hezbollah is a Lebanese-based terrorist organization with ties to Iran. It was formed in 1982 by Lebanese Shiite Muslim clerics who supported Irans Islamic revolution.
Hamas is the Arabic acronym for "Islamic Resistance Movement. The terrorist group, dedicated to the eradication of Israel, is now based in the Gaza Strip.
Both Hamas and Hezbollah are designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. government.
'Strategic relationships' a concern
The DEA has not yet responded to a request for comment on the CRS report. However, Michael Braun, the DEAs former administrator and chief of operations, told CNSNews.com, What concerns me the most is the fact that the cocaine trade brings Hezbollah and Hamas into very close contact with Colombian and Mexican drug trafficking cartels.
Braun pointed to the potential for terrorist groups to develop close strategic relationships and partnerships with drug traffickers. I believe that there is plenty of open source reporting that clearly reveals Hezbollah has connected with some Mexican drug trafficking cartels, he added.
Dr. Matthew Levitt, senior fellow and director of terrorism studies at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy who has testified on Hezbollahs presence in South America before congressional panels, told CNSNews.com that Hezbollahs ties to Latin American drug smugglers poses a significant threat for U.S. national security.
In the event that the nuclear confrontation with Iran gets worse rather than better, having a militant organization like Hezbollah on, and even within our border -- it certainly does pose a threat, said Levitt.
Hezbollah isnt targeting the United States right now, but if it chooses to do so it would be very capable of doing so, both in terms of its presence and large financial and logistical presence in South America, particularly in the tri-border area, but [also] in terms of networks they have here in the United States, he added.
One of the things thats of concern is that you see Hezbollah now engaging in trans-Atlantic drug shipments to Africa and failed states there and then north into Europe, Levitt said.
According to a 2006 report by the House Committee on Homeland Security, "Members of Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terrorist organization, have already [illegally] entered to the United States across our Southwest border."
The report noted, for example, that in December 2002, Salim Boughader Mucharrafille, a cafe owner in Tijuana, Mexico, was arrested for illegally smuggling more than 200 Lebanese illegally into the United States, including several believed to have terrorist ties to Hezbollah.
Furthermore, Robert L. Boatwright, assistant chief patrol agent of the El Paso, Texas sector, has said, We have apprehended people from countries that support terrorism they were thoroughly debriefed and there was a tremendous amount of information collected from them.
"These examples highlight the dangerous intersection between traditional transnational criminal activities, such as human and drug smuggling, and more ominous threats to national security.
Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez was also quoted in the report: If smugglers can bring in tons of marijuana and cocaine at one time and can smuggle 20 to 30 persons at one time, one can just imagine how easy it would be to bring in 2 to 3 terrorists or their weapons of mass destruction across the river and not be detected. Chances of apprehension are very slim.
In his March 3 testimony, Placido pointed out that the DEA is working to identify and track Islamic radical groups networks in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, which are reaping the financial benefits from the lucrative European and Middle East cocaine markets. The key to disrupting those networks will be an attack on the financial-narcotics nexus, he said.
In its report, CRS noted that South America is the sole producer of cocaine for the global market. Pointing to Justice Department statistics, CRS said the Mexican and Colombian DTOs combined generate, remove and launder between $18 billion and $39 billion in wholesale drug proceeds annually.
A 2004 study by the Naval War College revealed that Hezbollah raises close to $10,000,000 a year in the Tri-border region, although not all of it comes from the drug trade. U.S. Southern Command estimates that Islamist terrorist groups raise between three hundred million and five hundred million dollars per year in the Triple Frontier and the duty-free zones of Iquique, Colon, Maicao, and Margarita Island [in South America], the study said.
Dr. Ray Walser, the Heritage Foundations senior policy analyst who specializes in Latin America, and Vanda Felbab-Brown, a Brookings Institution expert on national security, agreed that the money Hezbollah and Hamas generate from their links to South American drug trafficking organizations is supplemental a secondary financial source.
Hezbollah also has been linked to other financial schemes, including taxing the residents in areas where they operate.
Felbab-Brown told CNSNews.com that Hezbollah is more prominent in South America than Hamas is.
Iranian-funded and supported Hezbollah also has a presence outside South Americas tri-border area, in countries such as Venezuela, where socialist President Hugo Chavez, an ally of Iran, spreads anti-American sentiment.
In June 2008, a U.S. Treasury official stated, It is extremely troubling to see the Government of Venezuela employing and providing safe harbor to Hizballah facilitators and fundraisers.
Brazil, which is part of the tri-border area, recently has worked to stave off U.S.-backed sanctions against Iran.
The Brookings Institutions Felbab-Brown told CNSNews.com that Hezbollahs and Hamas primary connection is with the Brazilians and the Colombians.
Hezbollah, Hamas Raise Money for Terrorist Activities From Drug Trade in South America, Congressional Research Service Says
Additional background links:
Iran’s Growing Influence In Latin America
SPERO Forum.com - SPERO News ^ | April 24, 2010 | Commentary, Analysis by Mark P. Sullivan
Posted on April 27, 2010 1:33:46 AM PDT by Cindy
SNIPPET: “President Chávez also announced during the visit that Venezuela is working on a preliminary plan for the construction of a nuclear village in Venezuela with Iranian assistance so that the Venezuelan people can count in the future on this marvelous resource for peaceful purposes. The transfer of Iranian nuclear technology from Iran would be a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions - 1737 (2006), 1747 ( 2007), and 1803 (2008) - that imposed restrictions on Irans nuclear technology transfers.
In late September 2009, comments by Venezuelan officials offered conflicting information about Irans support for Venezuelas search for uranium deposits. Venezuelan Minister of Basic Industry and Mining Rodolfo Sanz said that Iran was assisting Venezuela in detecting uranium reserves in the west and southwest of Venezuela. “
SNIPPET: “Nevertheless, on the diplomatic front, Iran has opened embassies over the past several years in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, as well as in Colombia, Chile, and Uruguay. This is in addition to having existing embassies in Cuba, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela.”
SNIPPET: “As noted above, President Ahmadinejad has visited Venezuela several times, and has also visited Bolivia, Brazil, Nicaragua, and Cuba. In early May 2009, a scheduled first trip by Ahmadinejad to Brazil was unexpectedly postponed until after Irans election in June. There had been some protests in Brazil against Ahmadinejads visit, but the trip ultimately took place in November 2009. Brazilian President Lula da Silva maintains that the West should not isolate Iran. On the same trip, the Iranian President once again visited Bolivia and Venezuela. “
SNIPPET: “In March 2009 congressional testimony, Admiral James G. Stavridis, then commander of the U.S. Southern Command (Southcom), also asserted that the main concern about Irans increased activity in Latin America is its links to Hezbollah. He maintained that there was Hezbollah activity throughout South America, particularly the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay as well as parts of Brazil and the Caribbean Basin.”
SNIPPET: “Mark P. Sullivan is a specialist in Latin American Affairs for the Congressional Research Service. It is a portion of a longer January 25, 2010 CRS report, Latin America: Terrorism Issues (PDF)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.”
Read the whole article here: http://www.speroforum.com/a/31543/Irans-Growing-Influence-in-Latin-America
Hezbollah, Hamas Activities In Argentina, Brazil And Paraguay
EURASIA REVIEW.com ^ | April 23, 2010 | n/a
Posted on April 27, 2010 1:06:57 AM PDT by Cindy
SNIPPET: “In recent years, U.S. concerns have increased over activities of Hezbollah and the Sunni Muslim Palestinian group Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) in the tri-border area (TBA) of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, which has a large Muslim population.
The TBA has long been used for arms and drug trafficking, contraband smuggling, document and currency fraud, money laundering, and the manufacture and movement of pirated goods.”
SNIPPET: “This article is an edited portion of a longer January 25, 2010 CRS report, Latin America: Terrorism Issues (PDF) prepared by Mark P. Sullivan, Specialist in Latin American Affairs for the Congressional Research Service (CRS).”
(Excerpt) Read more at eurasiareview.com ...
TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Click to Add Topic
KEYWORDS: andparaguay; argentina; armstrafficking; brazil; contraband; contrabandsmuggling; currencyfraud; documentfraud; drugs; drugtrafficking; fraud; hamas; hezbollah; hizballah; hizbullah; iran; latinamerica; moneylaundering; paraguay; piratedgoods; southamerica; tba; triborder; Click to Add Keyword
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A Look at Iran
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Now Arizona Has More Than One War In Our Backyards MY OPINION: Hezbollah using drug routes
AZBIZ.com - Inside Tucson Business ^ | April 23, 2010 | Opinion by Lionel Waxman
Posted on April 27, 2010 12:47:10 AM PDT by Cindy
“Now Arizona has more than one war in our backyards MY OPINION: Hezbollah using drug routes” By Lionel Waxman, Inside Tucson Business Published on Friday, April 23rd, 2010
SNIPPET: “For years, I have been warning that the Mexican drug war will sweep over Southern Arizona if we dont close the border. Well now the war is here. But today, I am writing to warn you of another war. It is using the drug routes but it isnt connected to the cartels.
Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese group, is on its way to involving Tubac, Tucson, Phoenix and other parts of Arizona in the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as the drug trade. Where are our NIMBYs?
For at least four years, the Hispanic American Center for Economic Research has been keeping an eye on a Hezbollah militia that has taken root in South America in the whats known as the tri-border region of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.”
(Excerpt) Read more at azbiz.com ...
Intelligence Report: Iran Will Use Latin America to Attack US, Israel
Arutz Sheva ^ | Published: 04/20/09, 2:06 PM | by Malkah Fleisher
Posted on April 20, 2009 3:28:31 PM PDT by lewisglad
Just two days after US President Barack Hussein Obama shared a controversial and landmark handshake with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has released a study analyzing the flowering alliance between the increasingly anti-Western Latin America and the virulently anti-Israel Iran.
The study was conducted at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC), a non-governmental organization dedicated to Israeli intelligence and terrorism issues.
According to the study, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is using anti-Western Hugo Chavez as a springboard into several Latin American countries, such as Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador, where he intends to establish a religious, terrorist, political and economic foothold in South America. Iran has already made major inroads in its relationship with Venezuela and Bolivia, largely based on shared anti-American sentiments.
Iran will utilize this developing relationship to challenge the United States, parts of Asia, and Africa, said the study.
The Islamic Republic will also leverage petrodollars and Muslim operatives positioned throughout key Latin American countries to implement a radical anti-Western agenda, fight America’s anti-nuclear policy, and to slash international economic sanctions according to the IICC.
In addition, the report warns that Iran may launch anti-American and anti-Israel terror attacks through intelligence and terror networks in South American countries.
Khomeini-inspired Shi’ite Islamic and Iranian revolutionary propaganda is being exported by Iran into non-Muslim and Muslim communities in Latin America, in large part through its terror proxy, Hizbullah, which is raising funds for operation by uniting with South American drug and crime cartels.
The IICC report cites several U.S. intelligence and military officials expressing concern over rising Iranian activity in Latin America, and increasing numbers of converts in the region to Islam.
(Excerpt) Read more at israelnationalnews.com ...
Connecting the South American Terror Dots
FrontPageMagazine.com ^ | August 9, 2004 | David Meir-Levi
Posted on August 9, 2004 4:47:20 AM PDT by SJackson
Dot # 1: A Growing Threat in the Tri-Border Area of South America. (Terrorist and Organized Crime Groups in the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of South America. A Report Prepared under an Interagency Agreement by the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, July 2003.)
Since the early 1980s, Arab terrorists have been sending thousands of their cohorts to the almost inaccessible jungle and mountain region between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay (known as the TBA, Tri-Border Area or La Triple Frontera). Terror training camps and arsenals have been established, virtually out of the reach of local law enforcement or defense forces; and elements from Hezbollah, al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and the Lebanese Drug mafia operate in partnership, freely and openly in conjunction with local organized crime and corrupt government officials.
The TBA has become a virtual haven for Islamic terror groups and a base for terror operations against South American targets. The large and growing Arab population of these states (in excess of 750,000 by local estimates) provides a community highly conducive to the establishment of Islamic terrorist sleeper cells throughout the area. The attacks in Buenos Aires on the Israeli embassy (3/17/1992) and the Jewish Community Center (7/18/1994) are believed to have originated from terror bases in the TBA. Since the mid-90s, government forces have foiled many more terror attacks against American, Jewish and Israeli targets, arresting some of the perpetrators.
CNN reported that an Islamic terrorist summit meeting was held in the TBA in late 2002, to plot attacks in South America and abroad. Security forces believe that future targets include USA and Israeli government offices, Jewish community buildings, hotels, tourism centers, airports and facilities of multinational corporations.
The TBA terrorist haven also operates an immense money-laundering project, reaping profits from their partnerships with the FARC and narcotics traffickers in the widespread South American drug trade. Government estimates place the total amount of money laundered since 1992 at more than 172 billion dollars.
There is currently no effective surveillance or containment of these terrorist activities.
Dot #2: Increased Terrorism in northern Venezuela (U.S. News & World Report, 10/6/03, pp. 18ff.)
Another South American hub of Arab terrorism has emerged recently in northern Venezuela near the border with Colombia. Thousands of terrorists now occupy an unknown number of camps in that region, and move about with the support and collaboration of the Venezuelan government. President Hugo Chavez plays host to a growing horde of Middle Eastern terrorists from some of the USAs most notorious enemies, including Libya, Saddams Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Pakistan. Thousands of Venezuelan identity cards have been legally issued to these foreigners. Such cards can be used to obtain legal travel documents and passports for unimpeded entry into other South American countries and into the USA.
These terror groups are known to work in conjunction with the Colombian anti-government insurgency group, FARC. They offer FARC terrorists safe haven in mountainous and unpatrolled regions of Northeastern Venezuela. They may provide Hugo Chavez with a covert force that can be used to support FARC against the Colombian government. Venezuelan cooperation with these terrorists may buy President Chavez a guarantee that terror assaults will not be perpetrated in his country.
Currently there are no known terror attacks that can be attributed to these groups.
Dot #3: Illegal Immigration at the Southern Border Not Just Hispanics, Anymore. (U.S. seizes 77 Mideastern aliens in southern Arizona, World Tribune, 8/2/04; Two groups of middle-eastern invaders caught in Cochise county in past six weeks, Tombstone Tumbleweed, 7/18/04; Breaking silence over possible terror threat, Defense Watch, 7/23/04.)
American border patrol agents arrested 158 illegal aliens in Cochise County, Arizona, on 6/13/04. One agent, who speaks Farsi and Arabic, overheard dozens of detainees speaking Arabic in the back of the detention vehicle. He counted 53 of Middle Eastern rather than Hispanic origin. His superiors told him to keep that information to himself; but he reported it to the local newspaper, the Tombstone Tumbleweed.
Just one week later, on June 21, 2004, another group of illegals were apprehended, including 24 Arabic speaking men. But at least as many or more escaped apprehension and disappeared into the United States.
Border Patrol officials deny that there have been any Middle Eastern illegals among those arrested, but individual arresting officers attest to the accuracy of that ethnic description.
Upon deeper investigation, the Tumbleweed editor learned that since October 1, 2003, Arizona border patrol agents have arrested 5,510 illegals from countries other than Mexico, Central and South America. In addition, the arresting officers noted that all of the Middle Eastern illegals sported identical haircuts and moustaches; and while their clothes were the typical illegal immigrant jeans, baseball caps and jerseys, the Middle Easterners all wore brand new clothes, still spiffy looking and clean (quite the opposite of the usual rather frazzled appearance of illegals).
Connecting the Dots:
We are witness to expanding Islamic terrorist bases in South America, operating with almost no interference from, or in collaboration with, the host countries governments; thousands of Arab terrorists training in these bases; and credible evidence that hundreds or even thousands of Arabic speaking illegals have been entering the USA through our porous border with Mexico for almost a year. Given the Border Patrol leaderships refusal to divulge the ethnic or national identities of the 5,510 non-Hispanic detainees, we cannot know how many of these thousands are Arabs.
Why would Middle Eastern terror groups spend untold millions of dollars to set up bases in South America? Certainly to benefit from the drug trade and money-laundering opportunities that lax or corrupt governments afford. Clearly, to attack South American targets (inter alia, Israeli or American embassies, Jewish communities, and/or other institutions that are involved in South American financial, political, or military interaction with the USA). Probably also to facilitate the planning and execution of future terror attacks in South America or abroad.
Why would Arabs enter the United States in such large numbers? At least some of them are likely bona fide terrorists who, once they have eluded the Border Patrol, can connect with established contacts in the American Muslim community and lay the groundwork for future terror attacks within this country. It takes a minimum of five support-staff to launch one terrorist action. How many terror attacks can we expect, now that we know now that hundreds or perhaps thousands of Arab terrorists have entered this country illegally during the past year, and are completely untraceable by law enforcement or military agencies.
Why would hundreds of these Arab terrorists sneak into America illegally via the Mexican border? The credible scenarios are:
These Arabs are known terrorists who could not enter in a simpler and more direct fashion, via our legal ports of entry; or The terror planners and strategists foresee that if our legal ports of entry were suddenly flooded with dozens or hundreds of entrants recognizable as Arabs but bearing legal South American travel documents, our immigration officials might get suspicious. Thus, to infiltrate very large numbers of terrorists into the United States in anticipation of future massive terror assaults, it would be necessary to create a base for the invaders in neighboring safe areas from which large numbers of terrorists could be transported en masse.
Why do the official spokespersons for the Border Patrol in Arizona refuse to acknowledge what their field force tells us? Surely corroboration by several different guards on different occasions warrants public concern.
Why are Border Patrol guards instructed to keep silent about the presence of Arabs and Iranians among the many thousands of non-Hispanic illegal aliens? Surely this unusual and alarming phenomenon merits the scrutiny of the Border Patrols leadership.
Why have no mainstream media outlets publicized this infiltration of terrorists into our country? Surely such a phenomenon is newsworthy.
Once we connect these dots, it becomes obvious that the presence of thousands of Arab terrorists in two separate areas of South America and the illegal entry of hundreds of Arabs via the Mexican border portend massive terror assaults against American and other targets in South America and within this nation.
It does not require much imagination to foresee that the many current Arab terror sleeper cells scattered throughout the USA and Canada today are being re-enforced with the influx of Arab terrorists from South America, an influx of such numbers that normal ports of entry cannot be used.
Can the purpose of this re-enforcement be other than an Arab terrorist plan to mount major attacks on numerous targets throughout North America? Such imaginative terror masterminds as Imad Mughniyyah or Osama bin Laden himself would surely have little difficulty figuring out how to best utilize an untraceable sleeper army of Arab terrorists waiting patiently for the signal to strike at centers of telecommunication, transportation, electric power, and even law enforcement and military bases.
Middle East Terror Groups Find Sanctuary, Revenue in South America
JINSA ^ | January 15, 2004 | Jess Altschul
Posted on January 16, 2004 8:43:29 AM PST by Ooh-Ah
Tri-Border Area Hotbed for Crime-Terror Nexus, Hezbollah Firmly Established
In the frontier town of Ciudad del Este, in February 2003, Paraguayan state security officials raided a store owned by Ali Khalil Mehri, a 32-year old businessman of Lebanese descent. They recovered Hezbollah propaganda and documentation of money transfers to Canada, Chile, the U.S. and Lebanon totaling more than $700,000. Also found were fundraising forms for an organization in the Middle East called Al-Shahid, which is dedicated to the “protection of families of martyrs and prisoners.” After a thorough investigation, Paraguayan prosecutors charged Mehri with selling millions of dollars of pirated software and channeling the proceeds to the Hezbollah terrorist group. Mehri, released on bail after his arrest, crossed into Brazil and then flew from Sao Paulo to Paris. Authorities now believed he is in Syria.
Mehri’s arrest was the first major breakthrough in the investigation of illicit Hezbollah activities in the Tri-Border Area, an almost lawless area shared by the cities of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay; Foz do Iguacu, Brazil and Puerto Iguacu, Argentina. The area is known for money laundering, extortion, forgery, prostitution and illegal gambling. It has long been a resting place for drug traffickers and South American terrorist organizations such as the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), but in the past decade or so it has emerged as a hotbed of Islamist terrorism as well.
As of 2002, approximately 630,000 people live in the Tri-Border Area, more than 25,000 are Arabs or of Arab descent. The Brazilian and Paraguayan cities, which are only separated by the short Puente de la Amistad (”Friendship Bridge”), are areas where the first settlements of immigrants from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and the Palestinian territories emerged about 50 years ago. There is a high level of Islamist political activity in the Tri-Border Area and members of international terrorist organizations, it has been reported, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), al-Fatah, and al-Qaeda have been sighted there.
Regional officials and in several U.S. agencies have also investigated connections between Islamist terrorists and drug trafficking. On May 10, 2003, police in Paraguay arrested Hassan Abdallah Dayoub as he was preparing to ship an electric piano stuffed with more than five pounds of cocaine into Syria. Dayoub is a relative of Assad Ahmad Barakat, the chief Hezbollah operative in South America. He has thus far refused to answer investigators’ questions about the identity of those with whom he did business.
Due to a crackdown on terrorist funding worldwide and growing international pressure on state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist groups have been turning more and more to drug trafficking to raise funds for their activities. The Taliban earned an estimated $40-50 million per year from taxes related to opium production in Afghanistan. According to the website TerrorismAnswers.org, produced by the Council on Foreign Relations, Hezbollah smuggles cocaine from South America to Europe and the Middle East and has smuggled opiates out of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
In addition to operating in the Middle East and South America, Islamist terrorists have also been arrested in the U.S. for drug smuggling. In January 2002, the Drug Enforcement Administration apprehended 136 people in Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Fresno and Carlsbad, California in a massive operation that resulted in the seizure of 179 pounds of methamphetamine, 36 tons of the over-the-counter cold medicine ingredient pseudoephedrine (which is often used to make the illegal drug methamphetamine), $4.5 million in cash, eight pieces of property and 160 automobiles. The raid prompted an investigation that yielded the first evidence of a direct flow of money from drugs in the U.S. to Islamist terrorism in the Middle East. In addition, federal agents announced in early 2002 that they have exposed an effort involving legal immigrants and visitors to use credit card thefts, cigarette sales, charitable funds and cash smuggled in airline luggage to supply funds to anti-American and anti-Israeli terrorist groups operating in the Middle East.
Islamist terrorists operating in the South American drug trade is not a new topic on Capitol Hill. In a May 2003, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) brought up Dayoub’s arrest in Paraguay, saying that it demonstrates “the narco-terrorist financing operations needed to support Barakat and Hezbollah.” Hatch elaborated that the Tri-Border Area “has long been characterized as a regional hub for radical Islamic groups, which engage in arms and drug trafficking, contraband smuggling, money laundering and movement of pirated goods.”
In an October 2002 interview on the National Public Radio show On Point, Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, emphasized his belief that the war against Saddam Hussein’s regime should be followed up with a strike on Syrian training camps and the Iranians who finance Hezbollah. He said the three reasons he sees Hezbollah and its supporters as a greater immediate threat than Iraq are:
Hezbollah’s enthusiasm to kill Americans (previous to September 11, 2001, more Americans had died at the hands of Hezbollah terrorists than any other group);
The group’s access to funds and resources, and;
Their presence in the U.S.
In September 2002, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage declared that Hezbollah would eventually become a U.S. target, to which Hezbollah’s spokesman, Hassan Ezzeddin, replied “The American administration will be held accountable for any offensive against Lebanon, and we emphasize that we are in full readiness to confront any eventuality and defend our people.”
Jeffrey Goldberg, author of “In the Party of God”, which appeared in The New Yorker in October 2002, was also a guest on the radio show. Goldberg spent over a month in the Middle East and three weeks in the Tri-Border Area researching Hezbollah and their international funding and activities. He recounted crossing the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay with extreme ease, and being offered an AK-47 rifle for $375. The price even included a hotel delivery. When he asked about acquiring explosives, he was told that was also possible.
“In the Party of God” details how terrorist organizations make money from even legitimate businesses in the area. The Islamic fundamentalists extort business owners and force them to make a monthly “donation” - one that will save their shop and family from “possible harm.” Investigators in South America believe that over the past few years, Islamist terrorists have raised tens of millions of dollars - one Paraguayan official even told Goldberg that in one year Hezbollah raised $12 million in the Tri-Border Area alone. In addition, Paraguay has no anti-terror law, which in many countries allows for the seizure of terrorist funds and bans donations to terrorist organizations. The lack of such a law makes donating money to a terrorist organization in the Tri-Border Area as easy as donating to the Red Cross is in the U.S.
The absence of anti-terror laws makes it almost impossible for U.S. and regional authorities to arrest suspects. Because the organization and channeling of money is similar to the way organized crime operated in the 1930s in the U.S., the only charge officials can try to arrest the terrorists on is tax evasion. In addition, many officials believe that Paraguay in particular is extremely hesitant to prosecute or conduct investigations into Middle Eastern terrorists because the Tri-Border Area is the largest center of commerce in the country and the Arab community there is often described as the “pillar” of economic activity. If the Arab community abandons the region en masse, Paraguay’s already unstable economy would further deteriorate.
Paraguay is the one country of the three that has done the least to curb Islamist terrorists in the area because of the massive corruption at even the highest levels of the government. In the article “Paraguay’s Ciudad del Este and the New Centers of Gravity” by Colonel William W. Mendel, U.S. Army (ret.), published in the March-April 2002 issue of Military Review, the journal of the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College, Paraguayan police estimate that about 70 percent of the 600,000 cars in Paraguay were purchased on the black market, with at least a portion of the profits likely going to terrorist groups.
Corruption runs to the topmost ranks of government in Paraguay. Court officials and police say that even the President’s BMW and his wife’s Mercedes were purchased on the black market and were probably stolen. Both cars claimed the same title document, which was issued for a Toyota. And, in September 2001, the Paraguayan consul in Miami was arrested for selling over 300 passports and visas since 1999.
Many believe the U.S. has not done enough in the Tri-Border Area to halt the terrorism. According to Jonathan Goldberg (no relation to Jeffrey Goldberg), in his December, 2002 article “Blind Eye” in The American Prospect, the U.S. agenda for the region puts fiscal crises, trade negotiations, and local terrorist groups such as the FARC above Islamist terrorism. And although the DEA and State Department have representatives investigating drug-related activity in the Tri-Border Area and throughout Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, little attention is paid to the corruption within the highest ranks of the governments. Meanwhile, according to Juan Belikow, a professor at Argentina’s School of National Defense, Islamist terrorists and their supporters in South America are branching out into other regions such as Panama’s Colon Free Trade Zone, Iquique, Chile; Maicao, Colombia; and Chui, Brazil.
Al Qaeda and Hezbollah Plot a Dangerous Alliance
DefenseWatch ^ | 01-01-03 | Tom Knowlton
Posted on January 1, 2003 8:52:49 AM PST by Conservative News Hound
Al Qaeda and Hezbollah Plot a Dangerous Alliance
By Tom Knowlton
In an interview with The Sunday Times of London on Dec. 15, 2002, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat unwittingly provided the U.S.-led coalition against terrorism with a major insight into the evolving strategy of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist network.
Arafat asked Times interviewer Marie Colvin, “Why is Bin Laden talking about Palestine now? Bin Laden never, not ever, stressed this issue. He never helped us. He was working in a completely different area and against our interests.”
Arafat gave the interview after statements attributed to al Qaeda’s “Political Office of Qaeda al-Jihad” were published on the Islamic extremist web sites www.azfalrasa.com and www.mojahedoon.net, claiming responsibility for November’s bomb attacks on an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, Kenya and an unsuccessful missile attack against an Israeli civilian airliner departing Mombasa for Tel Aviv. The statements also announced the launch of an “Islamic al Qaeda Organization in Palestine” that would “serve as a powerful basis for restoring the rights of our Arab and Islamic people in Palestine.”
In today’s world arena, Islamic terror leaders such as Arafat and bin Laden utilize false piety and “liberation” movements to attract disciples and mask their own personal aspirations for power. But it seems highly unlikely that these two megalomaniacs, who seem more comfortable performing in front of a camera than behind a gun, could ever amicably share the limelight of the Palestinian “cause.”
There is little love lost between the two terror kingpins. Arafat and bin Laden are in fierce competition for the financial backing of Sunni Muslim extremists, a competition bin Laden has been steadily winning since Arafat’s support of Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and his signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 angered jihadist supporters in the Persian Gulf states.
Strategically, there is very little that either Arafat or bin Laden would substantively gain from an alliance. Aligning with bin Laden would only serve to further alienate Arafat and the Palestinian Authority from the United States. And while Palestinian terrorists have shown that they are willing to turn themselves into human bombs, they have not evidenced any of the sophistication and planning that has been the trademark of al Qaeda operations.
Many analysts feel that engaging in the Palestinian “cause” is an attempt by bin Laden to co-opt the movement away from the foundering Arafat and to solidify al Qaeda as a global front for Islamic action in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chechnya and Israel.
However, Arafat’s comments appear indicative of the fact that al Qaeda had not planned the Kenya attacks in coordination with, nor made any overtures to, any of the leading Sunni Muslim terrorist organizations engaged in attacks on Israel.
What appears most likely is that the entry of al Qaeda into the Palestinian fray is a byproduct of growing ties between al Qaeda and the Iranian and Syrian-backed Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah.
Despite common foes, Sunni and Shiite Muslims are separated by a deep-seated, faith-based animosity and a history of cultural conflict that dates back to a 7th century religious schism in Islam. Hezbollah’s close dealing with Sunni Palestinian terrorists has been a noticeable exception.
With a U.S.-Iraq war now becoming a near certainty, the Bush administration has actively courted Iranian cooperation (or at least neutrality), and turned a blind eye towards that rogue nation’s own program to develop weapons of mass destruction. Iran has a far more advanced and dynamic nuclear program than its “axis of evil” counterparts, Iraq and North Korea, and an ongoing long-range missile program. However, Iran has not been the focus of military action or international isolation like its counterparts.
This “soft handling” has not gone unnoticed by hard-liners in Tehran and has translated into a proliferation in Hezbollah activity in Lebanon, Israel, Europe and South America. An alliance between Hezbollah and al Qaeda brings to the Intifadah (Palestinian uprising), a level of sophistication, planning, training and global reach that has been noticeable absent from Sunni Palestinian terrorism and significantly raises the operational tempo of terrorist forces arrayed against Israel.
More importantly to Hezbollah, the alliance provides the Shiite terrorist organization with a proxy by which to attack the United States. During this year’s annual Jerusalem Day parade in Lebanon, the secretary general of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, denounced what he perceived as the United States plan to “control the region, to redraw the political map of the region” and criticized the “dangerous and satanic goals” of the United States and Israel.
Clearly, Hezbollah’s leadership sees the growing war on terrorism as the first major threat to the radical Islamic stranglehold on Lebanon since the withdrawal of American troops in the 1980s and Israeli troops in May 2000.
Conceivably, it would be in Hezbollah’s interest to maintain the focus of the war on terrorism on Sunni extremists. They will likely seek to accomplish this task by putting aside ideological differences and assist in rejuvenating an al Qaeda network - severely hobbled by the loss of bases in Afghanistan - and its surviving financial, logistical and operational cells worldwide.
U.S. and Israeli intelligence sources believe that the guiding hand behind such an alliance would be Hezbollah’s Imad Mugniyeh, the alleged mastermind behind the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine base in Beirut, Lebanon, and a key facilitator of Islamic terrorism worldwide.
An alliance with Hezbollah would provide al Qaeda with vital access to one of the world’s most prolific drug production and smuggling networks, an ominous development for the United States and the West.
During his January 2002 State of the Union speech, President Bush identified Iran, Iraq and North Korea as rogue nations who constituted an “axis of evil” which provide terrorists “the means to match their hatred.” The United States has effectively applied international pressure, the threat of military action, and the implementation of aggressive means of financial interdiction to stymie the flow of resources to al Qaeda from its state sponsors.
However, a network of drug production and smuggling controlled largely by Hezbollah may provide al Qaeda with the means necessary to continue its inhuman campaign against civilization. This network is centered on a transnational triangle of illicit activity conducted from areas of Lebanon, the Balkans, and the “tri-border region” of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
All three regions have unstable, often corrupt, government structures with weak economic platforms. Their porous borders and largely unsupervised waterways and airfields are highly conducive to the conducting of illicit operations that go undetected.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah utilized the Bekaa Valley region to produce and smuggle opiates and hashish into Europe until international pressure prompted Syria to institute an aggressive counter-narcotics program in 1992. After the U.S. liberation of Afghanistan in 2001, Syria effectively ended its efforts to deter cultivation or to eradicate illicit cultivation.
A U.S. State Department report on drug trafficking released in early 2002 stated that “unlike in recent years, Syria did not use its influence in Lebanon to assist Lebanon in suppressing cannabis cultivation and harvesting in the Bekaa Valley.” Moreover, the report identified that this fact “led to a sharp increase in hashish production in Lebanon,” and estimated that over 4,010 hectares of land was being used for hashish production.
In the Balkans, a prolific drug-smuggling operation is being conducted along the “Balkan Road” running through the fluid borders of Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. The “Balkan Road” is considered the doorway to Europe and North America and accounts for over 80 percent and 40 percent, respectively, of the continent’s heroin trade.
On Sept. 17, 2002, a Debka-Net-Weekly report (Socialist-Albanian Election Win Leaves Macedonians in Pit of Despair) identified a 1,400-square-mile enclave in Macedonia running from Crna Gora and Sar Plan (near Tetovo) in the north to the divided lake districts of Ohrid and Pripsankso Ezero in the south that is controlled by Islamic drug lords aligned with Imad Mughniyeh. Western intelligence sources believe that Mughniyeh has long viewed the Balkans as the gateway to an Islamic conquest of Europe and utilized Albania and Kosovo as “the main base for Islamic armed action in Europe.”
As in Afghanistan, the armed Islamic militants guarding this operation are former U.S. allies, primarily the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) - renamed the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) after the NATO-Serbian conflict in the spring of 1999 - and its Macedonian counterpart, the National Liberation Army (NLA), which both have a long history of smuggling drugs as a means of raising funds for weapons. According to the France-based Geopolitical Observatory of Drugs, the KLA was responsible for smuggling over $2 billion in drugs into Western Europe. Jane’s Intelligence Review estimates that the KLA’s profit from these ventures is in the “high tens of millions.”
The “tri-border region” of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, has been identified by the U.S. State Department as “a focal point for Islamic extremism in Latin America” and represents a major hemispheric threat to the United States. Hezbollah has maintained an active and growing presence in the region and is believed responsible for at least two attacks in Buenos Aires; the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy and the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center.
The Latin American center of Hezbollah’s narco-terrorism is the Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este, under the operational command of successful businessman Assad Ahmad Barakat. Barakat’s chief aide, Sobhi Mahmoud Fayad, was arrested in 1998 for an alleged conspiracy to bomb the U.S. embassy in Paraguay, and again in 2002 for alleged participation in a money-laundering ring.
Drug-trafficking routes through the tri-border region have brought Hezbollah into close contact with the powerful drug lords throughout the Andean region of Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. Virtually all of the world’s cocaine production is conducted in these three countries and it is believed that collective synergies have been developed between Islamic terrorists and Latin American narco-terrorists such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Peru’s Shinning Path.
Ali Mohamed Mukhlis, a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and closely linked to top al Qaeda lieutenant Ayman al Zawahiri, heralded an al Qaeda presence in the “tri-border” region when he was apprehended by Uruguayan authorities in 1999 in connection with a plot to bomb the U.S. Embassies in Paraguay and Uruguay. Authorities linked Mukhlis to an operational cell in Ciudad del Este.
The combination of illicit narcotics and terrorism is an alluring proposition for al Qaeda.
First, the financial windfall of the drug trade is highly lucrative. The Golden Crescent countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan, bin Laden’s former lair of choice, are the world’s largest producers of heroin, growing in excess of $50 billion in street value annually - over 70 percent of the world’s heroin supply. The al Qaeda-Taliban regime had actually formalized the revenue-generating aspect of opium production in Afghanistan by imposing a ten percent zakat (tax) on all opium transactions.
Denied access to their former Afghan bases and with state sponsorship of terrorism aggressively scrutinized and financial institutions being closely monitored, drug trafficking presents a viable alternative form of financing for al Qaeda.
Second, there is a highly synergistic effect in an alliance between terrorists and drug lords. Traffickers and terrorists have parallel logistical needs in terms of weapons, fraudulent documents and the covert movement of operative, shipments and funds.
The smuggling routes through Lebanon, the Balkans and South America traverse highly volatile regions and face the increasing specter of government interdiction. Drug traffickers benefit from the military expertise and equipment that terrorist organizations are able wield in defense of these coveted routes
On March 13, 2002, Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Rand Beers provided testimony on the benefits to terrorists from this symbiotic relationship before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information.
Beers explained that not only do terrorists gain a source of revenue, but also equally important, they acquire a means of “illicit transfer and laundering of proceeds from illicit transactions.” Moreover, the drug trade often ensnares corruptible officials who can provide access to fraudulent documents, including passports and customs papers.
Officials at the U.S. Immigration and Nationalization Service have expressed concern that a growing Islamic presence in Latin America may lead to ties with criminal organizations in Mexico that have proven highly successful in smuggling people and materials undetected into the United States.
Finally, al Qaeda would seek to strategically weaken Western society through the flooding of North America and Europe with illicit drugs.
Western analysts believe that Hezbollah, which receives significant amounts of overt military and financial aid from Iran and Syria, is involved in drug trafficking predominantly for the purpose of the facilitating the fall of the West through drug addiction.
Osama bin Laden has on several occasions advocated the use of opiates to weaken the West. It is this strategy that wreaked havoc on the Soviet military during the Soviet-Afghan War and strongly contributed to their defeat.
By the end of the Soviet-Afghan War in February 1989, the Afghan guerilla groups were producing more heroin than major illicit drug producers Iran and Pakistan combined. The result was a flooding of the Soviet Union and Europe with high quality, low-cost narcotics. Soviet Afghan War veteran Lt. Col. Yuri Shvedov claimed the Soviets had found significant evidence that this was the product of a “systematic program.” Rampant drug addiction in the Soviet forces in Afghanistan translated into a dramatic drop in morale and operational efficiency that later led to a crippling drug problem within the Soviet Union itself.
The mounting evidence of an al Qaeda-Hezbollah alliance should be of paramount concern to the Bush administration. The synergies created by the alliance will significantly raise the operational capabilities of terrorist forces and infuse bin Laden’s global terror cooperative with crucial funding. Already in the fall of 2002 we have seen the reemergence of a reinvigorated al Qaeda manifested in attacks in Indonesia, Kuwait, Yemen and Kenya.
The lines between traditional terrorism and drug trafficking are becoming increasingly blurred, signaling a possible convergence of the drug war and the war on terrorism. Islamic terrorists are forming symbiotic relationships with narcotics traffickers in urban and quasi-urban regions in the Third World such as Lebanon, the Balkans and Latin America, where Western governments have been traditionally reluctant to enter into military action.
As retired Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski pointed out during an interview with The Navy Times on Nov. 12, 2002, by not engaging terrorists in these regions we are “essentially providing them with sanctuary, which is unacceptable.”
“The Fire Down South...( Latin America—)”
various links | 10-24-02 | The Heavy Equipment Guy
"In testimony before a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on March 3, Placido stated, Some DTOs based in the tri-border area have ties to radical Islamic terrorist groups such as Hezbollah. It is important to note that this is not an emerging threat per se, but one that has existed since the late 1980s or early 1990s, he added."
Apparently the State Department does not read FreeRepublic.com nor CNS NEWS.com.
“State Dept: Hezbollah Raising Funds Through Drug Cartels in South America But No Credible Information of Terrorist Operations There”
Thursday, June 10, 2010
By Edwin Mora
SNIPPET: “(CNSNews.com) - The State Departments counterterrorism coordinator told members of a Senate panel on Tuesday that there is no credible information to indicate that the international terrorist organization Hezbollah has an operational presence in Latin America.”
SNIPPET: “In its Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 released in April 2009, the State Department said:
The United States remained concerned that Hizballah and HAMAS sympathizers were raising funds in the Tri-Border Area by participating in illicit activities and soliciting donations from sympathizers in the sizable Middle Eastern communities in the region. There was no corroborated information, however, that these or other Islamic extremist groups had an operational presence in the region.”