Growing Hezbollah Presence in Southwest U.S.

Hezbollah’s ‘business relationship’ with Mexican drug cartels is a driving force behind this phenomenon.

Hezbollah - LevittBY RYAN MAURO:

Terrorism expert Matthew Levitt writes that an increasing number of U.S. prison inmates have tattoos that are pro-Hezbollah or are in Farsi, the language spoken in Iran. The claim is made in Levitt’s new book, Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God.

“Law enforcement officials across the Southwest are reporting a rise in imprisoned gang members with Farsi tattoos” and some express loyalty to Hezbollah.

His book includes an eye-opening quote from another official: “You could almost pick your city and you would probably have a [Hezbollah] presence.”

Hezbollah’s business relationship with Mexican drug cartels is seen as a driving force behind the phenomenon.

In 2009, Michael Braun, former Chief of Operations for the Drug Enforcement Agency, said that Hezbollah uses “the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels.”

In April 2010, an individual named Jamal Yousef was apprehended in New York City. During interrogation, he admitted to stealing weapons from Iraq for Hezbollah. Yousef alone knew of a Hezbollah stockpile in Mexico that included 100 M-16 assault rifles, 100 AR-15 rifles, 2500 hand grenades, C4 explosives and anti-tank weapons.

An actual member of Hezbollah was captured in Tijuana in July 2010. His arrest was the smoking gun proof that Hezbollah is investing in building a network in Mexico.

Read more at The Clarion Fund

 

The following clip, “Radical Islamic Recruitment Inside U.S. Prisons” is from The Clarion Project film, The Third Jihad:

 

Book Review: ‘Hezbollah,’ by Matthew Levitt

Law enforcers in the U.S. Southwest report a rise in gang members with Persian tattoos, including some with Hezbollah imagery

OB-ZE805_bkrvhe_DV_20131007163105By Michael J. Totten:

Until 9/11, no terrorist organization had killed more Americans than Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite group: From the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, which killed 241 Marines, to the 1996 detonation of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 U.S. airmen, Hezbollah’s anti-American curriculum vitae was long and bloody. Today it remains an efficient global terror operation, having executed bombings on four continents, built a presence on six and even branched out to drug trafficking.

Despite this record, Hezbollah (the “Party of God” in Arabic) is still viewed in some quarters as little more than a parochial Lebanese political party with an armed wing charged solely with resisting an Israeli occupation that ended 13 years ago, on May 25, 2000. It’s this myth that Matthew Levitt explodes in “Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God.” The author, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former FBI counterterrorism analyst, narrates the full history of the organization in absorbing detail with an emphasis on its 30-year history of terrorism. While scholarly in tone and approach, Mr. Levitt’s book delivers suspenseful and even terrifying blow-by-blow accounts of the most infamous of Hezbollah’s attacks. He can’t dramatize all of them, though, because there are too many—far more than most people realize, because until now no one had bothered to document them in one place.

Hezbollah traces its origins to Iran’s 1979 revolution. The mullahs knew that unless they aggressively exported their theocratic ideology after the revolution, Iran risked becoming, in the words of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, just “an ordinary country.” So the regime created Hezbollah as the overseas branch of its own Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—the tip of an Iranian imperial spear.

The group first coalesced in 1982 in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, as a loose confederation of Shia Islamist cells under various names. By the mid-1980s it had become a more formal organization. Lebanon, with its large Shia population, was the perfect place for Tehran to export its revolution, and the early 1980s, in the midst of civil war and Israeli occupation, was the perfect time.

Hezbollah cut its teeth in Beirut, first by destroying the U.S. Embassy in 1983, then by deploying suicide truck bombers simultaneously against American Marines and French soldiers on peacekeeping missions in October of the same year. “The Marine barracks bombing,” Mr. Levitt writes, “was not only the deadliest terrorist attack then to have targeted Americans, it was also the single-largest non-nuclear explosion on earth since World War II.”

Read more at WSJ

Elaborate surveillance operation raises concerns about broader Hezbollah attacks

AFP/AFP/GETTY IMAGES -  A truck carries the bus damaged by the suicide bomb blast which targeted a group of Israeli tourists in Bourgas, Bulgaria, on July 19, 2012.

AFP/AFP/GETTY IMAGES – A truck carries the bus damaged by the suicide bomb blast which targeted a group of Israeli tourists in Bourgas, Bulgaria, on July 19, 2012.

By :

The Israeli tourists on Arkia Airlines Flight 161 from Tel Aviv could not have known it, but their arrival in Cyprus July 6 was watched closely. A pair of trained eyes counted each passenger as the group exited the plane and boarded a shuttle, headed for resorts that had also been carefully studied and mapped.

The bearded foreigner who silently tracked the Israelis had done his work well. He knew where the visitors would sleep, shop and eat. He knew how many security guards patrolled their hotel parking lots and how long it would take police to arrive from the station down the street.

But the watcher was being watched. When Cypriot police picked him up, the Hezbollah operative quickly acknowledged what he was doing, although he claimed not to know why.

“I was just collecting information about the Jews,” he told police, according to a sworn deposition. “This is what my organization is doing, everywhere in the world.”

The arrest of Hossam Yaakoub, a Lebanese-born Swedish citizen, on July 7 was all but forgotten 11 days later when a bus containing another group of vacationing Israelis was blown up in the Bulgarianresort city of Burgas . The attack, which killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver, was quickly blamed on Hezbollah.

Now, seven months after that attack, new details emerging in Yaakoub’s case are providing chilling insights into what investigators describe as a far broader effort by the Lebanon-based militant group to lay the groundwork for killing Israeli citizens and perhaps others in multiple countries.

Some details have come from Yaakoub himself, who made his first public appearance last week during his trial in Cyprus. But a much fuller account comes from legal documents summarizing the Swedish man’s statements to police during weeks of questioning last summer and obtained by The Washington Post.

The evidence echoes discoveries by investigators in Bulgaria and prosecutors in Thailand, India, Azerbaijan, Kenya and other countries hit by a wave of attempted assassinations and bombings linked to Hezbollah or its chief sponsor, Iran. U.S. officials characterize the plots as part of a shadow war directed by Iran in part to retaliate for Western efforts to derail Iran’s nuclear program. Evidence uncovered by investigators portrays a professional, well-funded effort by Hezbollah to recruit, train and position European-based operatives for what U.S. analysts describe as preparations for future terrorist operations.

‘Calculated tradecraft’

While most of the attacks were thwarted or failed, the accumulated intelligence shows that Hezbollah is learning from its mistakes, employing the tactics of professional intelligence operatives to cover its tracks and expanding its threat, according to current and former U.S. officials, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing nature of the inquiries.

“In the beginning, they clearly emphasized speed over tradecraft,” said Matthew Levitt, a former counterterrorism official with the FBI and Treasury Department and author of the forthcoming book “Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God.” Ananalysis of the more recent plots shows a shift in tactics, said Levitt, who said the Cyprus case in particular “underscores a very patient, careful and calculated tradecraft.”

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Europe’s Hezbollah Dilemma

hezby MARK  SILVERBERG:

The long-awaited results of the Bulgarian investigation into the Burgas  terrorist bombing last July 18th  has placed enormous pressure  on the European  Union to proscribe Hezbollah as a terrorist organization – a classification  repeatedly called for by the US, Canada and Israel, but so far rejected by EU member states except the  Netherlands.

Hezbollah’s involvement in the Burgas tragedy should make European leaders  rethink the standard excuses they have made to rationalize their lack of action  against Hezbollah. One often-quoted EU excuse maintains that since Hezbollah in  Lebanon has both a military aspect and a political/social aspect, clamping down  on the former would cripple the latter and destabilize the Hezbollah-dominated  government of the country.

While this hair splitting gives Hezbollah the wiggle room it needs to carry  on its nefarious activities in Europe, the argument has no validity given that the EU’s terror list already includes Hamas, which won the  Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, as well as the Communist Party of the  Philippines, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and other radical organizations  that are involved in their countries’ political systems. And given that the EU  has already sanctioned individuals and entities “responsible for the violent  repression against the civilian population in Syria”, there is no logical reason  to exclude Hezbollah as it clearly falls into this category given its continuing  support of the Assad regime.

This argument is especially vacuous given that Hezbollah’s second-in-command  Naim Qassem has already rejected the British separation of his organization into  political and military wings. Qassem told the Los Angeles Times in  2009: “The same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work  (in Lebanon) also leads jihad actions in the struggle against  Israel.”

Stripping away all this double-speak, EU member states, most notably France  and Germany, fear that proscribing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization could  potentially lead to the activation of Hezbollah terror cells across the  continent. According to Matthew Levitt, the Director of the Washington Institute  for Near East Policy’s counterterrorism and intelligence program, the Europeans  are afraid to stir up a hornet’s nest. “Hezbollah” he writes, “is not very  active in Europe and the Europeans feel that if you poke Hezbollah or Iran in  the eye, they will do the same to you. If you leave them alone, then maybe they  will leave you alone.”

France is particularly apprehensive given the exposure of its UNIFIL forces  in Lebanon to Hezbollah fire, and it is even more concerned that designating  Hezbollah as a terrorist organization would, once again, bring  Hezbollah/Iranian-directed terrorism back to its streets.

Read more at Family Security Matters

Mark Silverberg is an attorney with a  Masters Degree in Political Science and International Relations from the  University of Manitoba, Canada. A former member of the Canadian Justice  Department and a past Director of the Canadian Jewish Congress (Western Office)  based in Vancouver, he served as a Consultant to the Secretary General of the  Jewish Agency in Jerusalem during the first Palestinian intifada. He is a member  of Hadassah’s National Academic Advisory Board, a foreign policy analyst with  the Ariel Center for Policy Research (Israel) and the International Analyst  Network (U.S.), and has been interviewed on Israel National Radio as an  authority on American foreign policy in the Middle East. His editorials and  articles on Middle East affairs have appeared in the NATIV Journal of the Ariel  Center for Policy Research (Israel), Israel Insider, the Conservative Voice,  Family Security Matters, Israel Unity Coalition, The Intelligence Summit,  Midstream and Outpost magazines and Arutz Sheva (Israel National News). He has  lectured extensively on subjects of counterterrorism, jihadism, homeland  security issues and intelligence matters and is a Featured Writer with the New  Media Journal (Chicago). He is the author of “The Quartermasters of Terror:  Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Jihad (Wyndham Hall Press, 2005). His  articles and book have been archived under http://www.marksilverberg.com/.