Implications of Russian Presence in Latin America

putin2Center for Security Policy, January 23, 2017:

The Obama Administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and imposed new sanctions on Russian spy agencies for espionage and involvement in hacking political sites during the last presidential election.

Let us be clear. Espionage is an act for which the U.S. has every right to take action against the country that perpetrates it. Since the Russians indeed committed these acts of espionage, the actions taken against the diplomats were justified.

Yet, this dramatic step taken by the Obama Administration constituted a rather puzzling action for an Administration that made reconciliation and reaching out to adversaries and enemies, a policy across the board . The “Obama Doctrine” as the journalist Jeffrey Goldberg called it, is that we do not get involved in conflicts that do not directly affect us. Obama believed that for Russia to claim a sphere of influence in the Ukraine is legitimate given the history and geography of both countries. Therefore, according to this view, let us stay away from unnecessary political confrontations, let alone military ones.

Russia later entered the Middle East with troops in support of its old client, the Assad regime. Russia, along with Hezbollah, helped Bashar Al Assad recover lost territory. Obama was not going to put American soldiers at risk in order to prevent genocide or disasters unless the situation constituted a security threat to the U.S. Following the same logic, in exchange for a nuclear deal, Iran was allowed to have influence in the Middle East raising panic among most countries in the region.

Latin America is the geographical neighborhood where the U.S. lives. Latin America is to the U.S. what Obama claimed the Ukraine is for Russia, namely an area where it can claim not necessarily domination but influence.

Two years ago, we reported the existence of Russian military cooperation with countries in Latin America that are hostile to the United States, mainly Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.  This includes agreements between Russia and the above named countries that would enable Russia to place their naval logistic facilities within their territory. Russia clearly seeks to increase its political influence and geo-political strategic depth.

As pointed out in the above referenced article, while Russia views the former Soviet republics as naturally belonging to Russia’s traditional area of domination, the Obama Administration views similar attachment to its neighbors in the Western Hemisphere as antiquated.

Meanwhile, countries such as Brazil, Argentina and certainly Venezuela increased their cooperation with Russia. Venezuela even purchased arms for more than four billion dollars. Part of these weapons was handed over by the Venezuela government to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Brazil, a growing power, supported the idea of “a multipolar world”. On paper multi-polarity could be seen as the recognition of the existence of many world powers and not just one or two. However, in reality, this represents a euphemism for the reduction of American influence.

For many years the leadership of the Workers party in Brazil (2003-2016) along with Hugo Chavez and others ended up creating regional groups where the U.S. was intentionally excluded. Left-wing leaders such as Lula Da Silva from Brazil, Hugo Chavez from Venezuela, Cristina Kirchner from Argentina, Evo Morales from Bolivia, and Rafael Correa from Ecuador dominated the discourse. They all rejoiced over the emergence of a second independence. The first was from the Spanish and Portuguese empires, the second from the United States. That “second independence” did not preclude these countries from increasing alliances with Russia and China precisely because part of the process of seeking “independence” was to establish anti-American political coalitions and alliances. So increasing military cooperation with Russia was an attempt to challenge the traditional influence of the United States in the Western Hemisphere.

The Obama Administration did not think that losing influence in the Western Hemisphere would have consequences. Or if he did, he thought to regain such influence through symbolic gestures. One such “deed’ was the normalization of relations with Cuba, which demanded very little sacrifice on the part of the Castro regime in return. In fact, such sloppy normalization makes us more vulnerable.

Given the presence of so many anti-American dictators, terrorist groups, Iran, and the increasing number of countries that have succumbed to anarchy in our own neighborhood – losing influence in the region is a security liability. Cuba has had relations with all these adverse elements. How exactly does this improve our security, let alone our image in the international arena? As President Donald Trump has pointed out, image is crucial to generate respect. Respect is a function of strength, of assertiveness, of the ability to dissuade the adversary from taking an aggressive stand.

The importance of being influential and having a powerful presence does not mean we are going to fight a war right away. It means we will have a say and we will be an omnipresent force that the Russians or the Chinese will have to take into account before they take any action. Today we are unable to deter the Russians or the Iranians because we do not display the will. This is the source of weakening. We allowed the Russians to do what they wanted in the Ukraine, Syria and in our own hemisphere.

In the Western Hemisphere, we have not been able to daunt the Venezuelan dictatorship. The regime of Nicolas Maduro is not only anti-American but it violates human rights and starves its’ people. Yet, we have failed to recognize the dangers of the regime and the need to at least pressure for the reinstatement of democracy or convincingly frighten them over their heavy involvement in the drug trafficking business. Even Pope Francis, an apologist of populist left-wing regimes, declared that civil disobedience and rebellion against the Maduro regime is legitimate.

In contrast, Russia supports the Maduro regime with a great deal of geo-political conviction. The Obama Administration has not even expressed concern over military exercises and the presence of Russian troops in the continent. According to General John Kelly, formerly the head of the U.S. Southern Command and now the nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security in the Trump Administration, pointed out that since 2008 we are seeing “an increased Russian presence in Latin America through propaganda, military arms and equipment sales”… As part of its global strategy, Russia is using power projection in an attempt to erode U.S. leadership and challenge U.S. influence in the Western Hemisphere”

This does not mean that Russia is a military threat. However, if Russia reinforces military alliances with U.S. enemies such as Venezuela, Bolivia (the so-called Bolivarian Alliance or ALBA), Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Cuba is this a geo-political challenge that we can live with?

As Russian influence increases within the Alba countries, this alliance protects them from human rights condemnations in the Security Council (as journalist Douglas Farrah pointed out) but worse; it secures a Russian strategic advantage in our own backyard.

Trying to find a modus vivendi with Russia is a legitimate goal to pursue but as long as we do it from a position of strength. Denouncing and counteracting cyber-espionage is important. But unfortunately if this is done while ignoring geo-politics altogether, it is not as effective as it could be. The current debate on Russian espionage lacks credibility when we lack the assertiveness that in the past was expected from the United States of America.

Donald Trump may well try to avoid interventionism and seek cooperation with Russia or any other country in the world but giving up our place and leadership in the world should not do such moves.

Five Major Foreign Policy Reveals from the Wikileaks Clinton Email Dump

Kobi Gideon/GPO via Getty

Kobi Gideon/GPO via Getty

Breitbart, by John Hayward, October 17, 2016:

As emails hacked from the account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta continue to trickle into the public eye, major revelations regarding Hillary Clinton’s policy preferences on handling foreign policy, particularly rogue states, have come to the fore.

Below, five of the biggest reveals from the Wikileaks email dumps so far:

5. Clinton on Israeli-Palestinian talks says “A Potemkin process is better than nothing”: As with almost every major Democratic figure, Clinton thinks the “solution” to the Palestinian problem involves manipulating and pressuring Israel. However, emails produced by WikiLeaks suggest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu feels Clinton is “more instinctively sympathetic to Israel than the White House,” and the worst moment in his relationship with her came when she was “heavily scripted and reading from points prepared by the White House.” That’s funny, because President Obama and his defenders have been loudly insisting they were the best friends Israel ever had.

4. Clinton hearts Cuba: It is clear that Clinton will be useful to special interests that want to make money in Cuba, and enrich the dictatorship in return. Clinton’s team was also very happy to use Cuba as a political prop, in part because, as one special interest contact put it, “it would drive Rubio, Cruz, and others nuts.” The brutality and repression of the Castro regime mean absolutely nothing to these people, and yet they portray themselves as morally superior proponents of human rights. To read anything from the WikiLeaks dump referencing Cuba, you’d think the horrors of totalitarian communist repression were carried out by distant ancestors of the Castros, and it’s faintly amusing that anyone would still be hung up on it.

3. The project for “progressive Islam”: The most interesting thing about this leaked email is that Clinton’s inner circle and their connections in the Islamic world think “progressive Islam” is necessary, because on the record, Clinton claims Islam is already pretty darn progressive. Everything bad associated with Islam is supposedly the work of people who aren’t true Muslims. The interesting conclusion to be reached from following these discussions is that global Islam is much more complicated, and messy, than the official pronouncements of Democrats would indicate. As long as Democrats are single-mindedly determined to pander to Muslim-Americans, convinced the “anti-Muslim backlash” is a graver threat than terrorism, and above all else clubbing political opponents with accusations of anti-Muslim bigotry, they’ll remain dangerous on both national security, and the more subtle clash of civilizations.

2“Foreign govt donors: all the money is in”: Does anyone really doubt all that foreign money pouring into the Clinton Foundation is going to have a profound impact on American foreign policy, if Hillary Clinton gets into the White House? We’ll be lucky if the new Clinton Administration steering lucrative overseas contracts to Foundation donors is the worst of it.

1. Clinton said Iran could only be contained by bombing their nuclear facilities: Hillary Clinton’s conversation with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein in 2013 included her suggestion that Iran should be made to feel more “pain” by “not in any way occupying or invading them but by bombing their facilities.” Painless aerial bombardment is the Democrats’ favorite foreign policy tool, along with supplying weapons to local fighters who will serve as America’s deniable, easily abandoned boots on the ground. Neither of those strategies works very well, as Blankfein observed to his credit… and Clinton agreed with his assertion that bombing-only campaigns have never “worked in the history of war.” It’s as muddled as everything else Hillary Clinton says on foreign policy, but it’s arguably a more aggressive stance than Obama doctrine.

Iran Expanding Terror Network in Latin America

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, is welcomed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, in Havana, Cuba / AP

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, is welcomed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, in Havana, Cuba / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Aug. 23, 2016:

Iran is solidifying its foothold in Latin America, sparking concerns among U.S. officials that the Islamic Republic will enlist these regional allies in its push to launch terror attacks on U.S. soil, according to conversations with congressional sources.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has been on a diplomatic tour through key Latin American countries known for hostility towards the United States, including Cuba, Venezuela, and a host of other countries believed to be providing shelter to Iranian terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah.

As Iranian-ally Russia boosts its spy operation in the region, sources have raised concerns about the rogue nations working together to foster anti-U.S. unrest.

Zarif’s trip through the region has raised red flags among some senior congressional sources familiar with the region. For example, Zarif took aim at the United States and touted the regime’s desire to align with anti-American countries during his stay in Cuba.

One senior congressional source who works on the issue said to the Washington Free Beacon that Iran is seeking to recruit “potential terrorists who want to cause the U.S. harm.”

Increased ties between Iran and these Latin American nations are setting the stage for terrorists to penetrate close to U.S. soil with little detection.

These individuals “can travel easily to Venezuela, and once there, they can get to Nicaragua or Cuba without passports or visas, which poses a national security risk for our nation,” the source explained.

Iran has also reopened its embassy in Chile, a move that has only added fuel to speculation among U.S. officials that the Islamic Republic is making moves to position its global terror network on America’s doorstep.

“The threat to U.S. national security interests and our allies should be setting off alarm bells,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement about Zarif’s Latin American tour.

“The Obama administration has failed to prevent Russia and China from expanding in our Hemisphere, and now Iran is once again stepping up its efforts to gain a greater presence to carry out its nefarious activities,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “I urge the White House to stop downplaying the Iranian threat and take immediate action to prevent the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism from establishing a regional safe haven in the Americas.”

Asked to comment on Zarif’s trip and the potential repercussions on Monday, a State Department official said to the Free Beacon that the administration had no comment.

Ros-Lehtinen said the high-profile trip by Zarif should serve as a warning.

“The timing of Zarif’s trip is significant as Iran could use many of these rogue regimes to circumvent remaining sanctions, undermine U.S. interests, and expand the drug trafficking network that helps finance its illicit activities,” she said. “Tehran’s classic playbook is to use cultural centers, new embassies or consulates, or cooperative agreements on various areas to act as façades aimed at expanding Iran’s radical extremist network.”

The renewed concerns about Iran’s footprint in Latin America comes nearly two years after the State Department said Tehran’s influence in the region was “waning.”

“The timing of Zarif’s trip speaks volumes,” said the senior congressional aide who would discuss the issue only on background. It “is worrisome that as we just celebrated the 22nd year of the horrific terrorist attack against the AMIA Jewish community center in Argentina, Iran can now have personnel nearby in a new embassy in Chile.”

“Just recently, a Hezbollah member was picked up in Brazil, an explosive device was found near the Israeli embassy in Uruguay, and Hezbollah members are reportedly traveling on Venezuelan passports,” the source added. “It was not too long ago that Venezuela offered flights to Iran and Syria, and as of last week, Hezbollah cells were found in the West Bank where Venezuela lifted its visa requirements for Palestinians.”

Zarif slammed the United States on Monday during a speech in Havana.

“Iran and Cuba could prove to the U.S. that it cannot proceed with its policies through exerting pressure on other countries,” Zarif said, according to Iran’s state-controlled media.

“Now the time is ripe for realizing our common goals together and implement the resistance economy in Iran and materialize [Cuban dictator Fidel] Castro’s goals of reconstruction of the Cuban economy,” Zarif added.

Zarif went on to note that Iran “has age-old and strong relations with the American continent and the Latin American countries.”

Zarif is reported to have brought along at least 60 Iranian officials and executives working in the country’s state-controlled economic sector.

Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon that Iran has boosted efforts to engage Latin America in the wake of last summer’s nuclear agreement.

“Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif is aggressively continuing Iran’s diplomatic outreach, a policy which began early in the Rouhani administration and was kicked into high gear in the aftermath of the JCPOA—last summer’s nuclear deal,” he said. “Zarif’s sojourn into the Western hemisphere follows on the heels of his May visit to the region. Zarif’s trip symbolically commences in Havana, Cuba, where the Iranian foreign minister harped on themes of steadfastness and resistance to American legal and economic pressure.”

The Iranian leader’s goal is to “build on this experience to help promote an anti-American and anti-capitalist world order,” he added. “What’s most clear however, is that in addition to seeking to solidify the anti-American political orientation of these states, Iran aims to capitalize on the increasingly detached stigma of doing business with it in the aftermath of the nuclear accord. Therefore, we can expect to see trade deals or memorandums of understanding inked. In short, Iran will be looking to deepen to its footprint in Latin America.”

12 Freed Guantánamo Terrorists Have Killed ‘About a Half-Dozen Americans’

Getty Images

Getty Images

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, June 9, 2016:

The Obama administration reports that at least 12 terrorists from the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — all released under George W. Bush — have killed an estimated half-dozen Americans, the Washington Post (WaPo) has learned from current and former U.S. officials on condition of anonymity.

Although the officials reportedly declined to provide a specific figure for former Guantánamo prisoners involved in attacks that killed and injured Americans, one is quoted as saying the number “was fewer than 15.”

The revelation follows the starling acknowledgement to the House Foreign Affairs Committee made by a top Pentagon official in March that detainees released from the U.S. military prison in Cuba have killed Americans.

Paul Lewis, the Pentagon’s special envoy for President Barack Obama’s relentless efforts to shut down the Guantánamo facility, declined to provide the GOP-led House panel with more details. The Obama administration has since refused to further elaborate publicly on the official’s comments, claiming the intelligence behind it is classified.

However, an unnamed administration official was quick to tell the Associated Press (AP) that Lewis was referring to an incident involving the release of an Afghan prisoner from Guantánamo under Obama’s predecessor.

Some U.S. lawmakers are urging the Obama administration to declassify the information about suspected attacks attributed to former Guantánamo prisoners that they have been privy to but are prohibited from discussing publicly.

“There appears to be a consistent and concerted effort by the Administration to prevent Americans from knowing the truth regarding the terrorist activities and affiliations of past and present Guantánamo detainees,” wrote Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a vocal opponent of Obama’s efforts to shut down the prison, in a letter to the president this week.

Some jihadists released from Guantánamo under President Obama have returned to terrorist activities, including one of the five high-level Taliban commanders released in the controversial exchange for deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Former and current U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, provided the Postwith “additional details about the suspected attacks [that Lewis was allegedly alluding to], including the approximate number of detainees and victims involved and the fact that, while most of the incidents were directed at military personnel, the dead also included one American civilian: a female aid worker who died in Afghanistan in 2008.”

According to the Post, the officials also revealed that NATO troops who have been fighting alongside their American counterparts throughout most of the nearly 14-year-old Afghanistan war have also suffered casualties at the hands of the released prisoners.

One U.S. official familiar with the intelligence told the Post that, of the detainees suspected of attacking U.S. and allied personnel, nine are currently dead or in the custody of a foreign government.

The Pentagon official’s comments in March sparked criticism from Republicans opposed to closing the detention center.

“Some lawmakers see the violence against Americans as further evidence that the president’s plans for closing the prison are misguided and dangerous,” points out WaPo. “They also describe the administration’s unwillingness to release information about the attacks as another instance of its use of high levels of classification to avoid discussion of a politically charged issue that could heighten political opposition to its plans.”

President Obama continues to push ahead in his efforts to shut down the Guantánamo detention center, commonly known as Gitmo.

The Guardian reported in late May that his administration is secretly preparing to transfer up to 24 prisoners out of Gitmo by the end of the summer, a move that would bring the detainee population down to 56 from the 242 who were held there when Obama took office.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon submitted to Congress the Obama administration’s proposal for closing the Guantánamo detention center, which would require transferring prisoners to the United States, a move that is opposed by many lawmakers and is prohibited by law.

Currently, 80 terrorists are being housed at the prison.

In March, the office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) reported that as of mid-January, about 3 out of every 10 detainees were suspected or confirmed to have re-engaged in terrorist activities after being transferred out of Gitmo.

Although that includes some terrorists released under President Obama, his administration suggests that none have been linked to attacks against the United States or its allies.

“Human rights activists say the statistics are suspect and cannot be verified because the administration provides almost no information about whom it is counting and why,” notes the Post.

Also see:

Top Intel Officials: U.S. Faces Highest Terror Threat Level Since 9/11

James Clapper / AP

James Clapper / AP

Iran, N. Korea enhancing ties, ISIS more powerful than al Qaeda, terrorists pouring out of Syria

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Feb. 25, 2016:

Top intelligence community officials warned Thursday that the United States faces the highest terrorist threat level since the 9/11 terror attacks, citing a record-breaking increase in the flow of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq, as well as joint Iranian-North Korean plans to boost “attack capabilities” and other efforts by leading terror groups to increase their offensive capabilities.

As Iran “continues to be the foremost sponsor of terror” across the globe, ISIS has emerged as the “preeminent global terrorist threat,” with its combined strength now exceeding al Qaeda’s, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who warned lawmakers on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that “unpredictable instability has become the new normal.”

The United States has never dealt with this type of threat landscape and struggles to ensure it can continue gathering intelligence on these terror groups, which have shown unprecedented proficiency at obfuscating their actions.

Violent extremists now operate in 40 countries, Clapper said. Another seven countries have collapsing governments, and 14 are in danger of falling due to violent instability. An additional 59 countries have been marked as facing “significant risk of instability through 2016,” Clapper said.

Instability in these countries could enable them to become terrorist safe havens, as has been the case in Syria, Clapper said.

“There are now more Sunni [Muslim] violent extremist groups, members of safe havens, than any time in history,” Clapper said, noting that the rate of foreign fighters now traveling to Syria and Iraq is “without precedent.”

At least 38,200 foreign fighters, including 6,900 from Western countries, have made their way to Syria from about 120 different countries since the Syrian conflict began in 2012.

“Returning foreign fighters [to Europe and elsewhere], with first-hand battlefield experience, poses a dangerous operational threat,” Clapper said, citing last year’s massive terrorist attack in Paris.

Meanwhile, threats from global pandemics such as the Zika virus also threaten the U.S. homeland. The U.S. intelligence community expects up to 4 million Zika virus cases in just in the Western hemisphere, Clapper said.

Officials said that as the United States and other countries implement the Iran nuclear agreement, the Islamic Republic strengthens its alliance with terrorist groups and rogue nations such as North Korea.

“Iran continues to be the foremost state sponsor of terror and exert its influence in regional crises in the Mid-East through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, its terrorist partner Lebanese Hezbollah, and proxy groups,” Clapper said. “Iran and Hezbollah remain a continuing terrorist threat to U.S. interests and partners worldwide.”

Intelligence sources have predicted that Iran’s hatred for America will not abate despite the nuclear deal championed by the Obama administration.

“Iran’s supreme leader continues to view the U.S. as a major threat and we assess his views will not change despite the implementation of the [nuclear] deal, the exchange of detainees, and the release of the 10 sailors,” Clapper said.

Technology challenges remain for the U.S. as it seeks to disrupt cyber attacks and infiltrate online terror networks.

Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea continue to collect sensitive data from hacking American networks, Clapper said.

“Targeting collection of the U.S. political, military, economic, and technical information by foreign intelligence services continues unabated,” he said. “Russia and China post the greatest threat, followed by Iran and Cuba on a lesser scale.”

Terrorist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda have demonstrated an ability to hide their online operations.

“The increased use by violent extremists of encrypted and secure Internet and mobile-based tech has enabled terrorist actors to go dark and serves to undercut intelligence and law enforcement efforts,” Clapper said.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), the intelligence committee’s chairman, expressed concern over the government’s ability to address all of these threats.

“The U.S. faces the highest threat level since the 9/11 attacks,” he said. “The intelligence community is being stretched thin and is overwhelmed by a complex threat matrix.”

Nunes also highlighted several instances of waste, fraud, and abuse in the U.S. defense network.

Whistleblowers have informed Congress that officials at U.S. Central Command have deleted “both files and emails” to hide them from lawmakers.

Additionally, sources have identified billions of dollars in waste and excess spending for programs, including “documentation showing the Department of Defense has provided false information to Congress.”

Several congressional committees are currently investigating this behavior.

***

Hillary Emails: Intelligence Report Said Hezbollah Has Base in Cuba

Hezbollah-in-South-America-Reuters-640x480

Breitbart, By Jordan Schachtel, Feb. 18, 2016:

A private intelligence report from Hillary Clinton’s confidant, Sid Blumenthal, claimed that Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terrorist organization, had set up shop in Cuba, according to an email released by the State Department over the weekend.

The group was actively “casing” facilities related to U.S. interests, the intelligence report also says.

The dispatch read:

During the week of September 5, 2011 extremely sensitive sources reported in confidence that the Israeli Intelligence and Security Service (Mossad) has informed the leadership of the Israeli Government that Hezbollah is establishing an operational base in Cuba, designed to support terrorist attacks throughout Latin America.

The confidential intelligence report from Blumenthal to Clinton continued:

These sources believe that Hezbollah supporters have been instructed to also begin casing facilities associated with the United States and the United Kingdom, including diplomatic missions, major banks, and businesses in the region. These individuals believe that the Hezbollah military commanders in Lebanon and Syria view these U.S. and U.K. entities as contingency targets to be attacked in the event of U.S. and British military intervention in either Syria or Iran, at some point in the future.

Breitbart News has reported extensively on Hezbollah’s encroachment into the western hemisphere, noting the group’s rapid rise in the west in recent years.

U.S. officials, members of Congress, and defense experts continue to warn that Iran is utilizing Hezbollah to expand its influence in the region, and is utilizing cultural centers and mosques to spread the message of the Shia Islamic revolution.

Moreover, a recent report alleged that Hezbollah is now “moving freely” throughout the United States and Latin America.

When reached by Breitbart News, the intelligence services of Canada and Mexico wouldnot confirm or deny reports that Hezbollah had extensive operations already set up within the United States.

A State Department official recently acknowledged in a statement to Breitbart News:“Hizballah receives funding from supporters around the world who engage in a host of licit and illicit activities, some of which takes place in the Western Hemisphere.”

U.S. Removed Cuba from Terrorist List After Hezbollah Opened Base on Island

hezbollahcubaJudicial Watch, Feb. 16, 2016:

A few years before the Obama administration removed Cuba from the U.S. list of nations that sponsor terrorism Hezbollah established an operational base on the communist island, according to intelligence received by Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State.

The information comes straight from electronic mail released by the State Department over the weekend as part of ongoing litigation from several groups, including Judicial Watch, and media outlets surrounding Clinton’s use of a private server to send and receive classified information as Secretary of State. This alarming information has been ignored by the mainstream media, which served as the president’s most vocal cheerleader when he established diplomatic ties with Cuba last summer. After appearing for decades on the U.S. government’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, the Obama administration officially removed it to lay the groundwork for a full renewal of diplomatic ties.

Nevertheless, the administration knew that the radical Lebanon-based Islamic group Hezbollah had opened a base in Cuba, just 90 miles from the U.S, a few years earlier. In a cable dated September 9, 2011 Clinton is informed that “extremely sensitive sources reported in confidence that the Israeli Intelligence and Security Service (Mossad) has informed the leadership of the Israeli Government that Hezbollah is establishing an operational base in Cuba, designed to support terrorist attacks throughout Latin America.” The cable goes on to say that “the Hezbollah office in Cuba is being established under direct orders from the current General Secretary Hasan Nasrallah, who replaced Musawi in 1992. According to the information available to this source, in preparation for establishment of the base, Nasrallah, working from inside of Lebanon, carried out secret negotiations with representatives of the Cuban Government, particularly the Cuban Intelligence Service (General Intelligence Directorate — DGI), agreeing to , maintain a very low profile inside of Cuba. Nasrallah also promised to take measures to avoid any trail of evidence that could lead back to Cuba in the event of a Hezbollah attack in Latin America.”

Obama’s report to Congress indicating his intent to rescind Cuba’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation included a certification that Cuba had not provided any support for international terrorism during the previous six-months. It also claimed that Cuba had provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future. This was May, 2015 when the State Department announced the island nation was officially off the terrorist list because it “meets the statutory criteria for rescission.” In the announcement the agency also wrote this: “While the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, these fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation.” The new Clinton email creates a number of questions relating to the agency’s abrupt move to clear Cuba as a sponsor of terrorism.

Hezbollah’s involvement in Latin America is nothing new and in fact Judicial Watch has been reporting it for years. In 2013 JW published a story about Hezbollah infiltrating the southwest U.S. border by joining forces with Mexican drug cartels that have long operated in the region. The recently released Clinton email, states that a “particularly sensitive source” confirmed that in the 1980s Hezbollah carried out similar contingency casing operations against U.S., British, and Israeli facilities and businesses in Latin America, Europe and North Africa. In 1992 Islamic Jihad, acting on behalf of Hezbollah, bombed the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina in retaliation for the death of Hezbollah General Secretary Abbas al-Musawi, the email says.