House to Introduce New Bill Cracking Down on Hezbollah’s Funding, Drug Trade, TV station

Mideast Lebanon IsraelBy :

House lawmakers on Monday are set to introduce a new bill that would greatly tighten economic sanctions on the terror group Hezbollah by going after its foreign assets, narcotics trafficking rings, and its media apparatus, according to information obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The new bipartisan Hezbollah International Financial Prevention Act aims to widen the scope of sanctions by going after Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and public relations arms, which until this point have operated with relative impunity across the globe, including in Latin America.

The sanctions also would disrupt Hezbollah’s fundraising channels and cut off the group’s ability to finance its international terror activities.

The new sanctions, which have been in the works for weeks, were spearheaded by Reps. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), Mark Meadows (R., N.C), and Brad Schneider (D., Ill.).

The lawmakers argue that new sanctions are needed in order to thwart Hezbollah’s growing global network, which includes drug rings, criminal networks, and terror funding in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Read more at Free Beacon

Iran Lashes Out at Canadian Court Decision to Award $7 Million in Seized Assets to Terror Victims

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham. Photo: Screenshot.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham. Photo: Screenshot.

By Joshua Levitt:

Iran lashed out at a decision by a Canadian court to award $7 million in seized Iranian assets to victims of Iran-backed terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah ,according to Canada’sNational Post on Monday.

“Given the approach of the Canadian government, it is crystal clear that the verdict is politically motivated and such rulings have no legal value,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said on Press TV, cited by the National Post.

Iran’s Tasnim news agency claimed the ruling was based on “the fabricated allegation” that Iran supported terrorist groups, while semi-official state broadcaster FARS said Tehran had reminded “the Ottawa government of its international commitment” to protect diplomatic properties, the newspaper reported.

National Post said that following years of deteriorating relations, Canada severed diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012, expelling all of the Islamic Republic’s diplomats. At the same time, the Canadian government designated Iran and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism, ending their state immunity from lawsuits.

The 2012 Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act permitted victims of terror to seek damages from the state sponsors of their attackers, while the government also amended the State Immunity Act to allow the lawsuits.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled last week that Iranian funds in Canadian bank accounts and two properties in Toronto and Ottawa should be seized and split among terror victims. The newspaper said the judgement came after Iran failed to defend itself in court and sheriffs were ordered to take the Iranian assets. The groundbreaking court decision finalized four lawsuits filed in Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia by terror victims seeking damages from Iran for training, arming and financing Hamas, in Gaza, and Lebanon-based Hezbollah, the National Post said.

Only one of the plaintiffs is a Canadian, Vancouver dentist Sherri Wise, who was severely injured by a Hamas suicide bomber, it said. The others are American terror victims who came to Canada to collect on judgments awarded by U.S. courts.

Read more at The Algemeiner

Two Americans Arrested for Plans to Join Syrian Jihadists

Syrian rebel fighters

By Ryan Mauro:

Two Americans were arrested in the past few days as the Syrian civil war attracts Western recruits. One sought to join Hezbollah and the other took the side of an Al-Qaeda affiliate, but both believed they were fulfilling a commandment to wage jihad against the infidel.

************

Syrian jihadists have a sophisticated network in America, including those favorable to Al-Qaeda-linked groups. One opposition group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood has received over $12 million in U.S. government assistance.

Another Islamist named Sheikh Osama al-Rifai has used the Syrian Sunrise Foundation to raise over $3.6 million in one tour, bringing him to Florida, Illinois, Texas, Indiana, California and Michigan. His fundraising pitch was that any donor qualifies as a “jihadist for Allah.” One event was held at the influential Mosque Foundation that is part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood network.

In January, a terrorism-supporting imam named Sheikh Mohammad Rateb al-Nabulsi came to the U.S. to fundraise for Syrian “rebels” in 11 cities with help from a group called the Syrian American Council. One of the fundraisers was held at the Islamic Center of Passaic County in N.J. Other events took place in Florida, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Virginia.

In the 1980s, Afghanistan acted as the incubator for a generation of terrorists. It was the one spot where aspiring jihadists could go to get everything they needed, especially fighting experience. Other Muslims, innocently hoping to stop oppression, became radicalized on the battlefield.

Syria is modern-day equivalent. The civil war could end tomorrow, but the jihad it intensified will go on.

Read more at Clarion Project

Also see:

Saudi terrorism list raises question about Islamic Front

A fighter from the Islamic Front holds an assault rifle while a fellow fighter looks through a hole in a wall inside a damaged school in Idlib, Feb. 4, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Loubna Mrie)

A fighter from the Islamic Front holds an assault rifle while a fellow fighter looks through a hole in a wall inside a damaged school in Idlib, Feb. 4, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Loubna Mrie)

By Abdallah Suleiman Ali:

Yesterday [March 7], Saudi Arabia made a preliminary terrorism list that included the names of many organizations and movements inside and outside the kingdom.

Adopting that list was part of the February royal decree that criminalized anyone fighting outside Saudi Arabia. The decree ordered forming a commission to prepare a list of currents and movements that qualify as terrorist groups, thus criminalizing belonging or sympathizing with them.

The commission is composed of representatives from the ministries of interior, justice, Islamic affairs, and foreign affairs, the Council of Grievances office, the investigating committee and the prosecutor’s office. The commission explicitly named some organizations and movements — such as al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaeda in Yemen, al-Qaeda in Iraq, Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Hezbollah within the Kingdom, the Muslim Brotherhood organization and the Houthi group.

However, the commission’s list contained vague terms that rendered the list very hard to interpret and subject to many variations. That may have been intentional in order to leave maneuvering room and flexibility for Saudi authorities regarding some organizations with which the kingdom has strong ties, especially in the Syrian arena. Perhaps the most prominent of those is specifically the Army of Islam, and generally Jabhat al-Nusra.

It is not clear whether the terrorism list encompassed the Islamic Front. The Islamic Front was not mentioned on the list, which may suggest that it was excluded from the terrorism label and that Riyadh will continue to fund the front’s components, especially the Army of Islam, led by Zahran Alloush. But the commission asserted that the list encompasses “every organization that is similar to these organizations in thought, word, or deed” and “all organizations contained in Security Council resolutions and international bodies” and “known as terrorist and practice violence.” That indicates that the Saudi decision left room for many organizations and movements that are not mentioned on the list by name, whereby it is up to the discretion of Saudi political leadership to classify some groups as terrorist at the proper time and in the way that serves Saudi interests.

Read more at al Monitor

Lebanese Media Report Shift In U.S. Attitudes Towards Hizbullah, Despite Its Being A Designated Terrorist Organization

MEMRI:

Introduction

In February 2013, Hizbullah deputy secretary-general Sheikh Na’im Qassem said that the Americans had “contacted us in various ways and via mediators and asked to sit down with us. We answered via the mediators that the images [of such a meeting] would do no good, and that the only thing that would help is a change in your [i.e. the Americans'] mentality and your recognition of the legitimate rights of peoples.”[1]

This statement, if authentic, could attest to a change of strategy vis-à-vis Hizbullah on the part of the U.S., which declared Hizbullah a terrorist organization in 1990. According to Lebanese media reports, the U.S. administration has been conducting contacts with it since April-May 2012; these contacts, mostly indirect and through intermediaries, have more recently become direct as well. The reports state that at first, the U.S. administration and Hizbullah exchanged intelligence information, but later expanded the contacts into a diplomatic and political relationship, and even into dealings concerning domestic Lebanese politics.

The media reports focus on the relationship between the U.S. and the director of Lebanon’s General Security Directorate, ‘Abbas Ibrahim; although it is an official Lebanese body, this directorate, and Ibrahim himself, are close to Hizbullah. Before heading General Security, from 2005 to 2008, Ibrahim headed military intelligence in South Lebanon – and, according to many Lebanese Sunnis, this apparatus and those in charge of it in South Lebanon are pro-Hizbullah. At Qatar’s request, Ibrahim also mediated between this country and Hizbullah in November 2013.[2]

This paper will review the reports on the contacts and the relationship between the U.S. and Hizbullah, on the development of these contacts and this relationship, on their possible reasons and purposes, and on their possible connection with the shift in U.S. foreign policy towards Iran and towards the entire region.

 

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale (left) and Lebanese General Security Directorate head ‘Abbas Ibrahim

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale (left) and Lebanese General Security Directorate head ‘Abbas Ibrahim

Direct And Indirect CIA-Hizbullah Security Cooperation

According to Lebanese media reports, indirect CIA-Hizbullah contacts were apparently initiated by the U.S., and have been underway since at least April 2012, conducted by the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and Hizbullah through Ibrahim. These contacts culminated in cooperation fighting Al-Qaeda and its offshoots and other extremist Sunni organizations.[3] It should be noted that since Hizbullah’s announcement of its military involvement in Syria, it has been targeted by Sunni terrorist organizations operating in Syria and Lebanon, which have attacked Hizbullah itself as well as Shi’ite population centers in Lebanon considered to be Hizbullah strongholds.

Read more at MEMRI

Los Angeles Gang Members Fight In Syria Alongside Pro-Hizbullah, Pro-Assad Forces

18436MEMRI: Videos and images that surfaced recently show members of Los Angeles gangs fighting in Syria alongside pro-Hizbullah and pro-Assad forces. Two gang members, “Creeper,” from the G’d Up-13 gang and “Wino,” from the Westside Armenian Power gang, filmed themselves shooting AK-47s and boasting of being on the “front lines.” Wino, aka “Wino Ayee Peeyakan,” whose real name is Nerses Kilajyan, uploaded the images and videos to his Facebook profile.[1]

The images on Wino’s Facebook page include multiple photos of him brandishing weapons; in one he is seen standing beside a Hizbullah operative, and in another he himself is wearing Hizbullah garb. Creeper is photographed and filmed alongside Wino in multiple photos and videos posted on the page.

Judging by the photos, Wino seems to have been fighting in Syria since December 2012. Comments by Wino’s Facebook friends suggest that the two were deported from the U.S. due to their involvement in criminal activity.  

Syrian troops, Hezbollah fighters kill foreign jihadists in ambush

syrian-force-with-hezbollah-fighters-kill-175-insurgentsLWJ, By BILL ROGGIO February 26, 2014

The Syrian military and its ally Hezbollah killed more than 170 Islamists from the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, and the Islamic Front during an ambush in an area just outside of the capital of Damascus. “Saudis, Qataris, and Chechens” were among those killed, according to the government-owned news agency.

“A military source said that an army unit eliminated scores of terrorists of ‘Jabhat al Nusrah’ and the so-called “Islam battalion” according to intelligence information in an ambush in the Eastern Ghouta in Damascus Countryside,” the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency, or SANA, reported.

An estimated “175 terrorists were killed” and “most of them [were] Saudis, Qataris, and Chechens.” according to SANA.

The SANA report was corroborated by the independent Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as well as Al Manar, a news outlet run by Hezbollah.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that “no less than 70 fighters from Islamic battalions, were killed by an ambush by Hezbollah and regime forces, between the towns of Al-Eteba and Myda’a in the eastern Ghouta.” An additional 89 fighters were separated from the main group and “they may have been killed [in] the ambush.”

The Observatory often uses the term “Islamic battalions” to describe the Islamic Front, the coalition of six major Islamist brigades that was formed late last year and is allied with the Al Nusrah Front. Abu Khalid al Suri, a senior Islamic Front leader who was killed last weekend, served as Ayman al Zawahiri’s personal representative for Syria.

Al Manar reported that “up to 170 terrorist militants, including foreigners” were killed “through a perfect ambush” by the Syrian military. Al Manar did not report on Hezbollah involvement in the attack.

Foreign fighters often join with Al Nusrah or the rival Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, but also are known to fight in the brigades of the Islamic Front.

Chechens fight within the ranks of the Muhajireen Army, which has split into two factions. One faction fights for Al Nusrah, and another fights for the ISIS. Saifullah al Shishani, a Chechen commander who led a large unit in Al Nusrah, was killed by the Syrian military in early February during fighting in Aleppo.

Hezbollah in the streets of Caracas?

3893367737_c4e1e6fbb2_zAEI, By :

A man whom the US Treasury Department has designated as an operative of the terrorist organization Hezbollah has relocated from the Syria war zone to Venezuela in recent days, apparently in support the government’s violent crackdown against student demonstrators. Ghazi Atef Nassereddine was sanctioned by the US government in 2008 for providing logistical and financial support to Hezbollah.

Sources and documents substantiate Nassereddine’s role as Hezbollah’s principal representative to the Venezuelan regime and a close collaborator of President Nicolás Maduro. In recent years, his official cover has been as a diplomat assigned to Venezuela’s embassy in Damascus, where he has used his position to facilitate travel for many persons from the Middle East to Venezuela. From that post, he had extraordinary access to senior Syrian security officials who have waged war on opponents of the Assad regime.

Two witnesses also have told me that Nassereddine worked personally to obtain Maduro’s approval of Hezbollah money laundering schemes using Venezuelan entities. One plan involved the transfer of Syrian oil through a Venezuelan-operated refinery in the Caribbean to evade international sanctions.  These deals would produce enormous profits for corrupt representatives of the Maduro regime as well as Hezbollah.

As part of the late Hugo Chávez’s radical, anti-US agenda, the Venezuelan regime has promoted and even funded the presence and activities of Iran and Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere. Now that regime is turning to these allies as it faces a meltdown fueled by its virtual bankruptcy, shocking rates of violent crime, spiraling inflation, widespread shortages of food and medicine, and more recently, student demonstrations against Maduro’s regime in the country’s principal cities.

One very dangerous operative who has answered this call is Ghazi Nassereddine, who was born in 1971 in the Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil, which the Israeli’s have dubbed, “The capital of Hezbollah.” Ghazi parents emigrated to Venezuela, where he acquired citizenship soon after Chávez took power. As I stated in my testimony before the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence Committee on Homeland Security on July 2011, “[Ghazi Nassereddine], along with at least two of his brothers, manages a network that raises and launders money and recruits and trains operatives to expand Hezbollah’s influence in Venezuela and throughout Latin America.” His brother, Oday, is a long-time activist in the so-called “Bolivarian Circles,” one of the activist groups that has received paramilitary training to defend Chavismo.

Ghazi Nassereddine appears to have returned to Venezuela to help the regime in its fight to hold to power and silence protesters against Nicolás Maduro’s criminal regime. He tweeted from Caracas on February 19 that he “supports the actions taken by the government [against the opposition]” and labeled the government’s actions against the opposition as “humanitarian and patient.”

Nassereddine’s return to Venezuela shows that the regime knows that it is in fight for survival and prepared to use violence. Already thuggish paramilitary have been videotaped beating and shooting pistols indiscriminately into crowds of student demonstrators. It is remarkable that a Hezbollah operative of Nassereddine’s prominence would be part of that repressive campaign.

In recent years, numerous policymakers and experts in the region have documented the presence of Iran’s terrorist proxy in the Hemisphere – although the State Department continues to minimize this threat.  That Hezbollah operatives could be among those committing acts of terror and violence against Venezuelan demonstrators would be a dramatic demonstration of that group’s operational capability and brazenness in the Americas.

The State Department is reportedly “considering” what measures to take in response to the acts of violence and the expulsion this week of three US diplomats from Caracas. Beyond whatever diplomatic action it might be mulling over while violence rages in Venezuela, US national security agencies should direct additional resources to verify and counter the involvement of Hezbollah terrorists committing acts of violence on the streets of Venezuela.

LYONS: The bitter results of Middle East failure

iran07_s640x414Washington Times, By James A. Lyons:

There is no question that American interests in the Middle East are facing their gravest threats. The genesis for the current turmoil goes back many years with its roots in the Carter administration. Each subsequent administration contributed to the turmoil, particularly that of President Obama.

There were key events, actual acts of war against the United States that, had we responded with the required military action, could have changed the course of history.

The first occurred under President Carter when we undercut our key ally, the Shah of Iran, and facilitated the return and rule of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his Islamic fundamentalist regime.

The result was the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and the holding of our diplomats hostage for 444 days. Our failure to respond to this act of war served as the launching pad for radical Islam.

The second major event occurred during the Reagan administration when we failed to respond to both the bombing attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in April 1983, and then the truck bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut October, which killed 241 of our finest military personnel.

It was the greatest loss of Marines in a single day since the battle for Iwo Jima in World War II. We had positive proof the orders for the attack came from Iran. We had our Sixth Fleet Carrier Strike Force planes loaded and ready to respond but could not get authorization to launch.

Our failure to respond became Osama bin Laden’s rallying cry: Americans can’t suffer casualties, they will cut and run. In the eyes of the Middle East, that’s what we did. The mastermind for these two bombings in 1983 was Imad Mughniyeh, an agent for Iran.

Next was the Gulf Tanker War in 1986-88. Even though Iran was engaged in a life-and-death struggle with Iraq, it still continued to conduct “acts of war” against the United States. We had an opportunity in late August 1987 to shut down Iran when we had three battle groups and an amphibious ready group all coming together in the North Arabian Sea.

The plan was called “Window of Opportunity.” We were prepared to proceed systematically up the Persian Gulf, destroying Iran’s key facilities and their residual military forces including the Bushehr nuclear power plant, but authorization was not obtained.

It is important to understand that in the early 1990s IranHezbollah and al Qaeda formed a terrorist alliance. They overcame the Sunni-Shia religious divide in order to confront the “great Satan,” the United States.

With the help of Imad Mughniyeh, this alliance led to several well-known terror attacks, including the 1996 truck bombing of the U.S. Air Force Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia; the simultaneous U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000; and the horrific terror attack of Sept. 11, 2001, which killed almost 3,000 innocent Americans. Yet Iran remained off-limits.

Judge George Daniels of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled on Dec. 15, 2011, that Iran and Hezbollah were co-responsible with al Qaeda for the September 11 terrorist attacks.

In response, the Bush administration launched attacks against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. These attacks were initially very successful, but then we shifted our focus to Iraq where we became obsessed with Saddam Hussein’s potential weapons of mass destruction program.

It can be argued that at that point, the United States made a strategic mistake by invading Iraq in 2003 without first changing the dynamics in Iran, which had warred against the West for 24 years and had caused the loss of thousands of American lives.

Instead, our overthrow of Saddam Husain removed the greatest check on the expansion of the Iranian Shia crescent throughout the Middle East.

When Barack Obama became president, he believed he could change the dynamics of the Middle East by engaging our enemies, particularly Iran. His June 2009 Cairo “outreach” speech to the Muslim world, with the outlawed Muslim brotherhood leadership prominently seated in the front row, in effect gave a green light to the Arab Spring.

Secular dictatorships that were cooperating with the United States and keeping Islamic jihadists under control were clearly the first target. The Obama administration embraced the Muslim brotherhood, notwithstanding the fact that its goal is to destroy the United States from within by our own “miserable hands.” Their goal is to replace our Constitution with seventh-century Islamic Shariah law.

In Libya, the Obama administration started arming al Qaeda-affiliated militias that were under the control of the Muslim brotherhood. The Benghazi tragedy is one of the results of this unwise policy.

Nothing will change in the Middle East until the Obama administration changes direction. First, its dangerous policy of embracing the Muslim Brotherhood must be reversed.

Clearly, the organization has exerted undue influence on both our international and domestic policies in combating Islamic terrorism. An example is the Department of Justice’s recently reported move to ban religious profiling in terror probes.

Second, Mr. Obama must give up his delusion that somehow by signing a tentative agreement with Iran, the regime will curtail its nuclear weapons program.

No sooner had Mr. Obama finished crowing about that agreement than Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said on Capitol Hill that Iran is now fully capable of making a nuclear weapon whenever it chooses. A military option must be given consideration.

Retired Adm. James A. Lyons was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

Ayatollahs Celebrate 35 Years of Terror

Convicted-men-publicly-hanged-450x269by :

I was born after the Islamic Revolution of Iran, at the beginning of the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war and lived most of my life in the post-revolutionary era under the Ayatollah and Shiite Islamic Sharia law. I remember many people that underestimated the power of the Islamist movement, of Ayatollah and Imam Ruhollah Khomeini and his followers. Yet, here we are at the 35th anniversary of the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, with a much stronger, centralized regime that has been successful at promoting its ideology across the region, creating proxies such as Hezbollah, funding other Islamist movements, and thwarting America’s (and its allies’) security interests, as well as the U.S.’s foreign policy, geopolitical, geostrategic and geo-economic objectives in the region.

The Ayatollah, Mullahs, and Iranian leaders are celebrating the 35th anniversary of the establishment of Islamic Republic of Iran by Ayatollah and Imam Ruhollah Khomeini and his extremist followers.

It is also worth noting that due to the Carter administration’s foreign policies, the United States stood by and watched one of our (and Israel’s) staunchest allies in the Middle East be controlled by Shiite Islamic Ayatollahs and clerics; Iran was turned into one of the U.S.’s most robust and determined geopolitical, geostrategic, and geo-economic enemies.

This considerably shifted the balance of power in the Middle East, as the Islamic Republic built a firmer alliance with Russia and China, to counter American and Israeli foreign policy objectives in the region.

Ceremonies began in Iran on Saturday, marking the 35th anniversary of the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which deposed pro-US Muhammad Reza Shah and brought in the Islamic Republic.

The beginning of the 10 days of celebration, called the 10-Day Dawn (Fajr) festivities across Iran, marks the day when the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, arrived back home from exile on February 1, 1979, after having spent more than 14 years away, mostly in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf, with some time in Turkey and France.

These 10 days will culminate in one of largest nationwide rallies on February 11th, to celebrate the anniversary of the triumph of the Islamic Revolution.

After overthrowing the secular and pro-Western state, the Ayatollahs instituted a new social order based primarily on Islamist thoughts, Shari’a law, and Shiite ideals like the introduction of Jurisprudent Leadership (Vilayat-e Faqih) and giving divine power to the Supreme Leader (Vali)—whose legitimacy lies in his piety and his supposedly unmatched knowledge of Islam.

Article 57 was added to the constitution to emphasize this shift: “The powers of government in the Islamic Republic are vested in the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive powers, functioning under the supervision of the absolute religious leader and the Leadership of the Ummah, in accordance with the forthcoming articles of this Constitution…”

This gave the Supreme leader the absolute power to veto, enact, or suspend any law that was deemed to be un-Islamic based on his interpretations. All articles of the constitutions became subject to approval of Islamic laws. This created an artificial façade of democracy. For example, while the constitution gives rights to writers, journalists, and bloggers to write freely, everything should still comply with Islamic and Shiite laws.

Read more at Front Page

Experts: Iran Exerting Troubling Influence in Latin America

Guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC / AP

Guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC / AP

By :

Iran and its terrorist proxy groups’ influence in Latin America remains a troubling security threat to the region and world, experts said at a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Hezbollah, a Shiite terrorist group based in Lebanon and sponsored by Iran, has established illicit networks in Latin America in the last few decades to provide millions annually for its global operations, experts on the region told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade.

Those networks involve money laundering, counterfeiting, piracy, and drug trafficking in cooperation with local criminal groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Celina Realuyo, assistant professor of national security affairs at the National Defense University, said the “convergence” of terror and crime networks in Latin America presents a significant threat to regional and global security.

“These types of illicit actors, terror providers, and criminals, a lot of them are offering and brokering services but may not espouse the ideological fervor that other groups have,” she said. “But they’re offering a lot of special services—a terror pipeline—where you see this very unholy alliance between terror groups and criminal groups who have a win-win.”

The witnesses’ testimony on Tuesday appeared to contradict a State Departmentreport issued last year that downplayed the threat of Iran and Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere and was sharply criticized by some lawmakers and terrorism experts.

Realuyo said a lot of fundraising for Hezbollah in the region cannot be “separated out” from the illicit operations of local criminal groups.

Douglas Farah, senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Americas Program, added that just because ties between Hezbollah and groups like FARC seem opaque does not mean they are nonexistent.

“It’s hard to get through the policy perception that [they’re] not there,” he said.

Realuyo pointed to three recent cases as evidence of the links between Hezbollah and criminal groups in Latin America.

Read more at Free Beacon

More on Hezbollah activities in Latin America: http://counterjihadreport.com/category/latin-america/

Pay Day for the Mullahs

Hassan-Rouhani-450x337by :

Iran is receiving $550 million of its frozen oil revenues under the interim nuclear deal the Obama administration has pushed forward with Iran. The United States “helped facilitate the transfer” of the funds to Iran through unnamed foreign banks according to Reuters, citing a U.S. Treasury spokeswoman.  Iran’s official IRNA news agency has reported that the $550 million already has been transferred to Iran’s Central Bank account in Switzerland. This transfer is just the first installment of the $4.2 billion of blocked Iranian oil revenues held abroad that the U.S. has committed to help unfreeze.

“The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them,” Vladimir Lenin once famously said. The Obama administration is going one step further. It is involved in handing the mullahs money with no strings attached, which they will undoubtedly use for a further military build-up with which to threaten the United States and its allies.

Consider the following chilling words from a top Iran military official, Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, as quoted by the Daily Caller on February 1st.  He made these remarks during a televised interview:

America, with its strategic ignorance, does not have a full understanding of the power of the Islamic Republic.  We have recognized America’s military strategy, and have arranged our abilities, and have identified centers in America [for attack] that will create a shock. We will conduct such a blow in which they [America] will be destroyed from within.

Another top Iranian military official said last month: “Know that a direct conflict with America is the strongest dream of the faithful and revolutionary men around the world.”

Consider that nothing in the interim agreement stops Iran from continuing its research and development of a nuclear triggering device.  The money flowing to Iran, as the Obama administration opens the spigot wider and wider, will help pay for it.

Consider too that nothing in the interim agreement stops Iran from continuing to develop or acquire long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles which can reach the United States and Europe, as well as Israel. Indeed, the latest annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community” states that Iran “wants to improve its nuclear and missile capabilities” on which it has already “made technical progress.”

This same intelligence assessment warned of the continued danger that North Korea will remain an exporter of ballistic missiles and nuclear technology to Iran. Nothing in the interim nuclear agreement would hamper Iran’s ability to use the money we are letting loose to purchase nuclear materials or weapons from its buddies in Pyongyang. Instead of oil-for-food, as the fault-ridden program in Iraq was known, the Obama administration is enabling an unfrozen-oil-revenues-for-weapons program.

Among the non-nuclear-related weapons that a senior Iranian Air Force commander just announced Iran is planning to build are semi-heavy and training jets. The announcement was made on February 3rd – the very day the first installment of Iran’s frozen oil revenues was released.  The plan to build the jets was sent to senior officials to receive their approval, and “once approved, the Defense Industries will start building them,” the senior Air Force commander, Islamic Republic Air Force Chief Liaison Officer General Aziz Nasirzadeh, said. “We have taken very good measures in producing aircraft ammunition, long-range ammunition and smart missiles,” he added. Now Iran will have more money in its hands to continue to do so.

Read more at Front Page

Iranian commander: We have targets within America

Hossein-Salami-10-e1391313435440By Reza Kahlili:

A top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards boasted Saturday that his forces have plans in place to attack the United States from within, should the U.S. attack the Islamic Republic.

“America, with its strategic ignorance, does not have a full understanding of the power of the Islamic Republic,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised interview. “We have recognized America’s military strategy, and have arranged our abilities, and have identified centers in America [for attack] that will create a shock.”

Reports indicate that terrorist Hezbollah forces — allies of Iran — have infiltrated the U.S. and have mapped out targets.

“We will conduct such a blow in which they [America] will be destroyed from within,” Salami said.

This is the second warning by a high-ranking officer of the Guards in two weeks. The chief commander of the Guards, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Jafari, addressing Secretary of State John Kerry, said on Jan. 24 that a direct conflict with America is the “strongest dream of the faithful and revolutionary men around the world.”

Kerry had previously said that if Iran did not live up to the agreement reached in Geneva on its nuclear program, “all options are on the table.”

“Your threats to revolutionary Islam are the best opportunity,” Jafari had said. “Muslim leaders for years have been preparing us for a decisive battle.… Do you know how many thousands of revolutionary Muslims at the heart of the Islamic revolutionary groups around the world are awaiting for you to take this [military] option from the table into action?”

Gen. Salami went further, saying the Revolutionary Guards have taken into consideration America’s military ability and different scenarios under which the U.S. could attack Iran via a limited missile or air strike, or even a ground attack.

“All operational bases of the enemy in the region in whatever capacity and location are within our firepower,” Salami warned. “The American military option does not make a difference for us, and they can use this option, but they will have to accept the responsibility of devastating consequences.”

Salami asked whether America could control the spread of any war with the Islamic Republic: “Can they preserve their vital interest in the region in the face of endless attacks by Iran? Can they keep their naval assets and the Zionist regime [Israel] secure?”

Salami said that with the U.S. economy and debt, America is in no position to engage Iran militarily.

The general then taunted Washington, citing Iran’s political and cultural influence in Iraq. “The current has changed for the Americans so much so that they invest [by invading Iraq] and others [Iran] benefit.”

Read more at Daily Caller

South Carolina Smuggling Ring Linked to Muslim Brotherhood

cig smuggling

A similar case occurred in the 1990s where the Hezbollah terrorist group was financed through the illegal sale of cigarettes.

By Ryan Mauro:

A mosque in South Carolina that is linked to a cigarette smuggling ring has links to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Clarion Project has found.

Authorities have unsealed an indictment charging the president of the Central Mosque of Charleston, Nasser Alquza, with illegally selling cigarettes after being caught in a sting operation. Ten other individuals were also charged.

The investigation began in 2009 when the government learned that one of the defendants was trying to buy cigarettes in the Carolinas below their regular price. The suspected objective was to sell them for profit at other states with higher sales taxes without paying the government as required.

According to the indictment, Alquza paid $7.5 million to undercover government agents for almost 7,000 boxes of cigarettes. The conspirators used businesses to hide the money they earned from the illegal sales. If it would have been a legitimate sale, the defendants would have received over $15 million.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism points out that there was a very similar case in Charlotte, N.C. in the 1990s where the Hezbollah terrorist group was financed through the illegal sale of cigarettes.

The website of Nasser Alquza’s Central Mosque of Charleston shows it has linkages to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Article XVII of its published bylaws states that if the mosque is dissolved then “all remaining assets of the mosque shall be turned over to the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) or such other Islamic Center…”

The North American Islamic Trust describes itself a “historical Islamic equivalent of an American trust or endowment.” The organization says it holds the titles of over 325 properties in 42 states.

NAIT was identified as a Muslim Brotherhood entity by the FBI as early as 1987. A 1991 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood memo confirmed that NAIT is one of “our organizations and the organizations of our friends” and stated that the network’s goal is to wage a “kind of grand jihad in America … by eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within …”

Read more at Clarion Project

Iranian Fund Should Compensate, Not Create More, Victims

20111016_BeirutBarracksby LT. COLONEL JAMES G. ZUMWALT, USMC (RET)

On Feb. 1, the memory of the deaths of 241 U.S. military personnel slaughtered in the Oct. 23, 1983, Beirut bombing of the Marine Barracks will be dealt a slap in the face by an Obama administration that still doesn’t get it.

Barack Obama, never having served in uniform, fails to understand the insensitivity of a decision he made, to take effect Feb. 1 and the message it conveys to victims’ families of the bombing. One would expect those around the president who have so served, such as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, to explain it to him.

Some background is needed.

After Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 during the Lebanese civil war, U.S. President Ronald Reagan ordered U.S. Marines — part of a Multinational Force — to Beirut. Established by the United Nations at Lebanon’s request, the MNF was to oversee the withdrawal of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

A little known terrorist group Islamic Jihad launched coordinated, independent suicide truck bombing attacks against separate buildings housing the Marines and French MNF soldiers that October day.

The death toll of 241 for the United States was the largest single-day combat loss since World War II; the 58 deaths France suffered was its largest single day loss since the Algerian war in 1962.

The MNF withdrew soon after.

An initial investigation revealed authorization for the attack came from Tehran. The French quickly retaliated with an air attack against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley; the United States, uncertain there was a definite Iranian connection, rejected an offer to conduct the attack jointly.

Yet, even after the Iranian link was established, a U.S. response was never forthcoming.

It was the U.S. failure to respond to Iranian aggression that prompted Tehran to begin a one-sided war against the United States that continues to this day — all without fear of retaliation. Iran’s aggression has included supplying militants in Iraq and Afghanistan with roadside bombs responsible for more U.S. casualties being inflicted by any single country since Vietnam.

A 2003 U.S. Department of State report tagged Iran as “the most active state sponsor of terrorism.” Tehran has done nothing since then to refute such a title.

Today, the evidence is clear Tehran gave Hezbollah the green light to launch the 1983 Beirut bombing and that it has ties both to the 1996 Khobar Towers attack in Saudi Arabia and the 9/11 attacks. By January 2007, Iran was so brazen as to conduct a direct raid, with its Special Forces, in Karbala, Iraq, resulting in the executions of five Americans.

Iran’s history of terrorism, while failing to incur U.S. government retaliation, has incurred the wrath of U.S. citizens who have lost family members to its violent acts. Numerous civil suits have been filed against Tehran, bringing into evidence its complicity and generating judgments now totaling more than $8.8 billion.

Included among these is a judgment awarded to victim families of the Beirut bombing.

In 2012, a U.S. federal judge levied an $813 million judgment against Iran for its involvement in that attack. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Royce Lamberth noted in his July 3, 2012, opinion, “Iran is racking up quite a bill from its sponsorship of terrorism.”

With that background, we turn to the Nov. 24, 2013, nuclear arms deal negotiated in Geneva with Tehran, taking effect Feb. 1.

While numerous flaws in the agreement won’t preclude Iran from ultimately attaining its nuclear arms objectives, it is the unfreezing of billions of dollars in assets to Tehran that represents a slap in the face to the memories of our fallen warriors.

On that date, Iran will receive the first $550 million of $4.2 billion in overseas funds that have been blocked for the past several years. Additional payments in increments of $450 million and $550 million are scheduled to follow over the next five months.

At no point in negotiations did the U.S. government endeavor to hold the Iranian government accountable for its terrorist activities by demanding any released funds be applied to payoff outstanding judgments incurred for these activities. Accordingly, Tehran will use these monies to continue funding terrorist activities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Venezuela and elsewhere.

Funds that should have gone to compensate families of victims of terrorist attacks instead will go to creating additional victim families.

Read more: Family Security Matters

Also see ———> U.S. DISTRICT COURT RULES IRAN BEHIND 9/11 ATTACKS