The US May Get Drawn Into War With Syria, And ISIS Has Nothing To Do With It

Four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters provide air support for Soldiers conducting an air assault exercise as part of the Full Spectrum Training Event in Hohenfels, Germany, Oct. 14, 2011. The UH-60 crews are assigned to the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade-Europe. U.S. Army photo by Richard Bumgardner

Daily Caller, by Saagar Enjeti, March 22, 2017:

Tensions between U.S. ally Israel and the Syrian regime are flaring up after a series of military confrontations, which could escalate into a larger military surge in the already crowded war zone.

Tensions reached their highest level Friday when Syria launched a series of anti-aircraft missiles intended for Israeli jets engaging Hezbollah supply lines. One of the Syrian missiles was destroyed by Israel’s Arrow missile defense system. The incident marked the first known time Syria has fired on Israeli aircraft since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, and prompted a fierce Israeli response.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared to Israeli media “The next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added Friday, “When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah and we have intelligence and it is operationally feasible, we act to prevent it.”

Russia, the Syrian regime’s main sponsor, also summoned the Israeli Ambassador Friday for an explanation of the strike.

Russia’s concern underscores the interwoven role of multiple global powers in Syria. Other countries involved directly in Syria include the U.S., Turkey, Iran, Russia, multiple rebel groups, al-Qaida, and the Islamic State. Many of these rebel groups have international sponsors including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other gulf countries.

Any military confrontation between Damascus and Jerusalem would almost certainly draw U.S. support, which could in turn endanger U.S. troops inside Syria. Military confrontation could threaten conventional escalation between Israel and Syria, the U.S. and Moscow, the U.S. and Iran, and deepen the already ongoing conflict.

Israel defiantly followed up on Netanyahu and Lieberman’s pledges when it carried out a series of airstrikes against Hezbollah and the Syrian regime Sunday and Monday. The Sunday strike, carried out by an Israeli drone, killed a pro-regime soldier with reported deep ties to Assad.

Israel appears likely to continue its air campaign and Assad increasingly appears emboldened after his victory in the city of Aleppo. This stance could put the two, and their global allies at war.

Follow Saagar Enjeti on Twitter

Report: Iranian sleeper cells operating in U.S.

Hezbollah forces in Lebanon

WND, by Leo Hohmann, March 12, 2017:

American intelligence agencies have growing evidence that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group maintains a network of sleeper cells in the United States, according to a new report.

Though Hezbollah has not conducted a major attack on U.S. soil, the group could decide to strike key American sites should U.S.-Iran relations deteriorate substantially, according to the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

“Preparations to combat Islamist terrorism broadly should strongly consider the nuanced and growing Hezbollah threat to U.S. national security,” the report concludes.

Hezbollah or “the Party of God” is based in southern Lebanon and has long served as Iran’s way of Islamizing a formerly Christian country while also stoking the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and periodically launching rockets into northern Israel.

But the organization has other enemies besides Israel and should not be viewed within the narrow scope of the Arab-Israel conflict.

In fact, the Shiite terror group has been building its presence in South America since the late 1980s and was able to make inroads on the North American continent during the Obama years, terror analysts say.

The problem is not new but it is reaching a point where a major terrorist event on U.S. soil is more possible, said John Guandolo, a former FBI counter-terrorism specialist who now operates a private consulting business at Understanding the Threat.

He says there is now a sizable Hezbollah presence in the U.S.

Urging Trump to take action

“There is a great deal of testimony – much of it by senior Drug Enforcement Agency officials – over the years revealing how dangerous the situation is,” Guandolo told WND.

“They operate under the direct authority of the leadership of Iran which makes them, legally, an agent of an enemy state operating in the U.S.,” he added. “Our response, in my opinion, should be very strong. For the last eight or nine years we have not taken any strong action, but hopefully that will change.”

About a dozen U.S. mosques in several states are owned or supported by the New York City-based Alavi Foundation, which has ties to the government of Iran. One such mosque is the Islamic Education Center in Potomac, Maryland, Guandolo said.

Alavi’s mosques and all its U.S. assets, including a 36-story glass tower in Manhattan, were seized in 2013-14 for alleged links to Iran’s government in violation of sanctions against that country, but the forfeiture was reversed on appeal in July 2016.

Bush, Obama ignored the threat

Hezbollah is known for having “broader penetration in the Western Hemisphere than any other terrorist organization,” stated the U.S. State Department’s acting coordinator for counter-terrorism, Mark F. Wong, in testimony before the U.S. House International Relations Committee in 2002.

Hezbollah “is a multi-faceted, multinational” organization that “has a presence in virtually every country in North and South America. …” Wong reported to Congress at the time.

Both al-Qaida and Hezbollah have been known to be active along the border region of Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.

The tri-border area known as the “Muslim triangle”

Hezbollah and Hamas have also been setting up shop in the tri-border region of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, also known as the “Muslim Triangle.”

Hezbollah has set up legitimate businesses that also deal in counterfeiting U.S. currency, drug smuggling and other illicit trades. This area of South and Central America has been described as a “haven for Islamic extremists” by the former administrator of the DEA, Asa Hutchinson, in testimony before the House International Relations Committee.

Another wave of warnings came in August 2013, again in testimony before Congress. That’s when Cuban-American Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., then-chair of the House Middle East and North Africa subcommittee, warned that Iran was building an “extensive intelligence and terrorist network” in Latin America that the Obama administration was ignoring.

Ros-Lehtinen blasted the Obama administration for putting “politics over national security” in refusing to “get serious” about Iran’s growing infiltration of Latin American nations.

Matthew Levitt’s in-depth essay in Prism magazine last year cited extensive evidence of Iran’s growing influence in Latin America and detailed how Iran works to circumvent economic sanctions through some 36 cultural centers in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Hezbollah is now believed to have penetrated the U.S. during the lax border security that became endemic during the Obama years.

Another wave of warnings came in August 2013, again in testimony before Congress. That’s when Cuban-American Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., then-chair of the House Middle East and North Africa subcommittee, warned that Iran was building an “extensive intelligence and terrorist network” in Latin America that the Obama administration was ignoring.

Ros-Lehtinen blasted the Obama administration for putting “politics over national security” in refusing to “get serious” about Iran’s growing infiltration of Latin American nations.

Matthew Levitt’s in-depth essay in Prism magazine last year cited extensive evidence of Iran’s growing influence in Latin America and detailed how Iran works to circumvent economic sanctions through some 36 cultural centers in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Hezbollah is now believed to have penetrated the U.S. during the lax border security that became endemic during the Obama years.

Philip B. Haney

Philip Haney, a retired Homeland Security officer who developed data templates for radical Islamic sects, said Caracas, Venezuela is home to the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere – the Al Ibrahim mosque, which is Shia and has ties to Iran.

“That would be an obvious transport point for a lot of things going on there,” said Haney, co-author of “See Something Say Nothing.”

He points to the Panama Free Trade Zone as a “wild west” type of region for fraudulent commercial activity, much of it conducted by Lebanese businessmen funneling money to Hezbollah.

“There are a lot of Lebanese immigrants operating there and they’re there for a reason, it’s kind of like the Switzerland of Latin America,” he said. “They deal in the movement of vehicles, cigarettes and infant formula, cigarettes in particular, and they’re run by Lebanese crews here in the U.S.”

There are so many tactical operations going on in the Western Hemisphere – visa fraud, drug trafficking, contraband, car and cigarette fraud – that it’s hard to keep track of them, Haney said.

“You have to remember the Lebanese have been moving money through non-conventional channels for many years and have become very good at it. It’s a form of underground economy generating huge off-market revenue,” Haney said.

“And that’s where the free trade zone comes in because it’s like a wide-open environment, it’s a source of capital for both legitimate and illicit transactions.”

There is a whole network of Lebanese financiers who operate in the zone.

Here’s how some of them work:

  • Passport fraud: These are real passports but they’re issued to people with false names and identities. “It’s a legit passport obtained illegitimately. It’s not fake, it’s real, but it’s issued normally to a person who created a new identity or a false identity,” Haney said.
    “We’ve known about all this stuff for probably a good 10 years.”

CNN reported just last month on a fake passport ring run out of Venezuela that included allegations that passports were given to people with ties to terrorism.

One confidential intelligence document obtained by CNN links Venezuela’s new Vice President Tareck El Aissami to 173 Venezuelan passports and ID’s that were issued to individuals from the Middle East, including people connected to the terrorist group Hezbollah, CNN reports.

One of CNN’s sources for the story was a cop who said he was offered a cut of the profits if he had cooperated with the scheme.

Here’s more from the CNN report:

The accusation that the country was issuing passports to people who are not Venezuelan first surfaced in the early 2000s when Hugo Chavez was the country’s president, interviews and records show.
A Venezuelan passport permits entry into more than 130 countries without a visa, including 26 countries in the European Union, according to a ranking by Henley and Partners. A visa is required to enter the United States.

  • Vehicle shipment fraud: Cars originating in Venezuela often get shipped to the Middle East for resale. They are bought low and sold higher for profit, which is legal. But it’s what’s stashed inside the cars that are illegal contraband.

“It’s very common. They use the cars as cover and they put contraband in them because most of the shipping containers these cars get loaded into are not inspected,” Haney said. “Some are stuffed with millions of dollars in cash. It’s in the seats and in the floor boards.”

“These cars can even turn up in car-bombings in Baghdad and sometimes they were tracked all the way back to the united states,” he added.

  • Illicit cigarette sales: What does cigarette smuggling have to do with terrorism? A lot, say terrorism experts. The market for illicit cigarettes is $3 billion a year and growing, and the Lebanese are a huge player in this market.

The Lebanese buy cigarettes in low-tax states like Missouri, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia and then sell them in high-tax states like New York, where they can undercut highly taxed cigarettes and make huge profits.

For example, a pack of cigarettes in New York City can sell for upwards of $14 due to the $4.35 tax. But in Missouri the cigarette tax is only 17 cents, and in Georgia it is 35 cents, so a pack sells at retail for $6. That means a single truckload of black-market cigarettes can be worth up to $2 million to a ringleader.

A recent arrest in the Bronx netted charges against Mohamed Mustafa and Hiyad Chaib for running the illicit cigarette ring, Pix 11 reported.

Two brothers in North Carolina were convicted in 1992 of sending millions to the militant group, Hezbelloh, in Lebanon. The money made on the illicit cigarette sales is often laundered through a legitimate business here in the U.S. but much of the money ends up in the Middle East.

In 2002 Operation Smokescreen was a multi-agency federal counter-terrorism effort focused on black-market cigarette sales in Iredell County, North Carolina, that served as a fundraising effort for Hezbollah.

Detectives made repeated observations of a group of men purchasing large quantities of cigarettes, often with $20,000 – $30,000 in cash. The joint counterterrorism operation ended the fundraising operation, resulting in the arrest, trial, and conviction of the cell members.

In 2013, one of the defendants in another Brooklyn ring had long-time ties to Rashid Baz, the Lebanese cab driver accused of shooting up a van full of Orthodox Jewish students on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1994, Pix 11 reported.

“Lebanese immigrant gangs are doing these different criminal enterprises in the U.S. You’re talking macro truckloads of cigarettes,” Haney said. “They sell to vendors at about the same price but they didn’t have to pay the tax so they make a profit. So you have the cocaine trade, the cigarette trade here, the shipment of vehicles going to the Middle East, you have the Panama free trade zone being exploited.”

  • Drug trafficking: Hezbollah launders money through the free trade zone in Panama and they work with the Mexicans in the drug cartels, Haney said. “That’s why you started seeing really violent beheadings and stuff like that in the drug trade over the last couple of years,” he said. “Hezbollah is using the drug trade to finance its operations.”

Five types of jihad

So what’s all this have to do with sleeper cells and possible terror on U.S. soil? Not only do the smuggling and fraudster operations finance terrorist organizations, but they plunder the legitimate businesses here in the United States.

“There’s different forms of jihad. Financial jihad is one,” Haney said. “It has to do with the concept of plundering the unbelievers. You don’t have to blow them up, you can just make them go broke.”

He said there are five major types of jihad and warfare conducted with bombs and guns is only one of them.

Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born imam of Yemeni parents who helped plan terror attacks for al-Qaida, specialized in financial jihad, Haney said.

“It comes from Quran chapter 8 on the spoils of war, plundering the unbelievers,” he said.

So while most intelligence is geared toward stopping the next big terrorist attacks, groups like Hezbollah are busy nibbling away at the edges of Western society. It’s less sensational but just as damaging over the long haul.

“This is more like the death by a thousand cuts kind of thing, not one fatal thrust but a thousand small ones,” Haney said. “If you approach everything from the expectation that there’s going to be one big attack you bias yourself because you’ve misdiagnosed the nature of the threat. One size doesn’t necessarily fit all.”

“There’s a lot more going on over on the Shia side of the fence than most people realize because we mostly focus on the Sunni groups like the Muslim Brotherhood,” Haney added.

In fact, the two sides are increasingly working together.

Notwithstanding the current disagreements over Syria, there is a long history of cooperation between Muslim extremists on both the Sunni and Shia sides, according to the Washington Institute, which published a policy paper on the issue in May 2013. There have been many meetings aimed at global reconciliation between the two, facilitated by the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The Muslim Brotherhood acts as a liaison between the two in terms of how they are addressing their enemies, the U.S. and Israel,” Haney said. “There’s a lot of overlap. And there are a lot of refugees coming out of the Middle East that are not all Sunni, they’re also Shia.”

Hizballah’s Ongoing Threat to U.S. National Security

by IPT News  •  Mar 7, 2017

Most analyses of Hizballah focus on the terrorist group’s intervention in Syria or its threat to Israel. But the Iranian-backed organization maintains a significant presence in and near the United States, threatening national security. Current American proposals to strengthen borders and immigration measures may be limited to address this important, yet poorly understood, threat.

A recent Al-Arabiya article examines Hizballah’s North American threat.

It has the expertise to build advanced tunnels on the southern U.S. border, enabling Hizballah terrorists and Mexican cartel operatives to infiltrate the United States. Relations between Iranian-backed proxies, including Hizballah, and Latin American drug cartels are well established. Mexican gang members learn from Hizballah’s combat experience and use of advanced weaponry. Hizballah, in turn, derives a significant portion of its finances from the drug trade and other illicit activities.

In recent years, security officials in southwestern states noticed a rise in tattoos featuring Hizballah’s insignia among imprisoned drug cartel operatives. This surprising trend indicates a strengthened relationship between the terrorist group and Mexican gang members. In line with its foreign policy, Iranian operatives infiltrating Latin America seek to convert individuals to adopt its extremist Shi’ite ideology. Over the years, pro Iranian websites have proliferated across Latin America, in an attempt to cultivate support for the Islamic Republic.

Powerful Latin American politicians also help Iran and Hizballah penetrate the region and threaten the United States. In February, CNN received a 2013 secret intelligence document from several Latin American countries demonstrating ties between Venezuelan Vice President Tarreck El Aissami and 173 Venezuelan identification cards and passports issued to people from the Middle East, including Hizballah operatives. El Aissami “took charge of issuing, granting visas and nationalizing citizens from different countries, especially Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians, Iranians, and Iraqis,” the report shows.

Iranian and Hizballah operatives have cultivated and consolidated operating bases in South America, especially in the tri-border area (TBA) of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. With a large Muslim population featuring significant numbers of Hizballah sympathizers, the region is ripe for recruitment, arms smuggling and drug trafficking. Hizballah continues to exploit other Lebanese Shi’ite diaspora communities, including in the United States, to strengthen its presence worldwide.

In 2011, the United States disrupted a plot led by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in cooperation with a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington.

The problematic nexus between Iranian-backed operatives, including Hizballah, and Mexican drug cartels allows terrorists to earn big money to fuel their violent operations. These connections also enable Hizballah to make inroads into the United States through its porous border with Mexico.

American intelligence reports show that Hizballah maintains a significant network of sleeper cells in the United States. Though Hizballah has not conducted a major attack on U.S. soil, the group could decide to strike key American sites should U.S.-Iran relations deteriorate substantially. Preparations to combat Islamist terrorism broadly should strongly consider the nuanced and growing Hizballah threat to U.S. national security.

House Dem IT Staffers Owed Money To Hezbollah-Connected Fugitive

Imran Awan, target of a House security probe, worked in IT for Rep. Andre Carson, a member of the intelligence committee

Imran Awan, target of a House security probe, worked in IT for Rep. Andre Carson, a member of the intelligence committee

Daily Caller, by Luke Rosiak, Feb. 21, 2017:

Congressional aides suspected of criminally misusing their access to House computer systems owed $100,000 to an Iraqi politician who is wanted by U.S. authorities and has been linked to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Middle Eastern terrorist outfit.

Imran Awan and four of his relatives were employed as information technology (IT) aides by dozens of House Democrats, including members of the intelligence, foreign affairs and homeland security committees. The aides’ administrator-level IT access was terminated earlier this month amid a criminal probe by U.S. Capitol Police of a suspected security breach, including an off-site server housing congressional data.

The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has reported that while working for Congress, the Pakistani brothers controlled a limited liability corporation called Cars International A (CIA), a car dealership with odd finances, which took–and was unable to repay–a $100,000 loan from Dr. Ali Al-Attar.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, wrote that Attar “was observed in Beirut, Lebanon conversing with a Hezbollah official” in 2012–shortly after the loan was made. Attar has also been accused of helping provoke the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq as a leader of Iraqi dissidents opposed to Saddam Hussein.

After moving to the U.S., Attar made his money practicing medicine in Maryland and Virginia and defrauding Medicare, Medicaid and insurance companies by billing for non-existent medical procedures. The FBI raided his offices in 2009 and the Department of Health and Human Services sued his business partner in 2011.

Attar was indicted in March 2012 on separate tax fraud charges after the IRS and FBI found he used multiple bank accounts to hide income. He fled back to Iraq to avoid prison.

“He’s a fugitive. I am not aware of any extradition treaty with Iraq,” Marcia Murphy, spokesman for federal prosecutors in Maryland, told TheDCNF Tuesday. “If or when he returns to the U.S., the prosecution will continue.”

Brothers Imran, Abid and Jamal Awan, as well as their wives Natalia Sova and Hina Alvi, were all on the congressional payroll.

Not long before the indictment, Pakistani-born Virginia resident Nasir Khattak, who co-owned CIA with Abid, still had access to some bank accounts holding Attar’s assets.

Khattak was a realtor, and with Attar’s permission, “acquired the money through adjustments to the accounts that he controlled as the realtor for al-Attar,” court documents say.

Abid managed CIA’s daily operations, even though he was also employed full time running computers for representatives that have included Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Yvette Clark of New York. But the car dealership was hemorrhaging money. Customers were often shown cars borrowed from a dealership next door.

“It was very bad record-keeping in Cars International … it is close to impossible to make any sense out of all the transactions that happened,” Khattak said in court documents.

CIA’s finances interwove with the House’s. A car-dealing associate who was owed money by the brothers, Rao Abbas, was placed on the congressional payroll.

Khattak said CIA was a “family business” and by 2010 Imran was its primary manager instead of Abid.

Abid Awan filed for personal bankruptcy in 2012 because the dealership was in his name, listing $1 million in liabilities. Bankruptcies are a major security red flag in background checks for employees in sensitive positions.

The loan from Attar was never repaid, leading to a lawsuit over the dealership’s future. Attar claimed the loan default meant the dealership became his, but refused to testify in person, giving power of attorney to someone else to give evidence on his behalf.

Khattek said in court documents that was because “Ali Al-Attar was out of the country as he was involved in politics and the formation of the Iraqi government.” Though he was fugitive, that was also true.

Giraldi, the former CIA officer, wrote in the American Conservative in 2013 that Attar advised President George W. Bush’s key Iraq policy advisors that U.S. forces would be “greeted as liberators.”

“In late 2002 and early 2003, [then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul] Wolfowitz regularly met secretly with a group of Iraqi expatriates, consisting mostly of Shias but also including several Sunnis, who resided in the Washington area,” Giraldi wrote. “The Iraqis were headed by one Dr. Ali A. al-Attar.”

Attar’s prediction was wrong, and his qualifications for making it — supposedly based on what the D.C.-area Iraqis were hearing from relatives — were questionable because, although Attar was born in Iraq, his parents were Iranian.

But the U.S.-backed regime change served Attar well, as in 2003, he told The New York Times that “he was one of four people chosen by General Garner to re-establish the Iraq Ministry of Health, and that he expected to be called Baghdad next week.”

That stay in Iraq apparently did not last long, as in 2009, his medical license was suspended by Maryland for separate instances of billing patients and insurance companies for unneeded services.

In November 2010, the Maryland State Board of Physicians brought still more charges of “unprofessional conduct in the practice of medicine and failure to cooperate in a lawful investigation.”

Attar’s attorney said the board was a “Trojan horse” for the FBI. The board said Attar’s “failure to cooperate with the board investigation was deliberate, longstanding and defiant,” and in March 2012 revoked his license.

The Awan brothers worked for members including Andre Carson of Indiana, one of two Muslims in Congress and a member of the ultra-sensitive intelligence committee.

Iran growing network to train foreign terrorists, dissident group says

Photo by: Hadi Mizban Members of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran boast an extensive spy network, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its special forces wing, the Quds force, and has a track record of exposing clandestine parts of the Iranian security apparatus. (Associated Press)

Photo by: Hadi Mizban
Members of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran boast an extensive spy network, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its special forces wing, the Quds force, and has a track record of exposing clandestine parts of the Iranian security apparatus. (Associated Press)

The Washington Times, by Rowan Scarborough, February 14, 2017:

Iran’s hard-line Islamic regime has escalated its overseas terrorist operations, establishing a network of over a dozen internal training camps for foreign fighters, the regime’s largest resistance group said at a press conference on Tuesday in Washington.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran issued its intelligence report specifying the camps’ locations and the countries represented.

The council’s largest member is the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK). It boasts an extensive spy network inside the mullah-run government, including the all-powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its special forces wing, the Quds force, and has a track record of exposing clandestine parts of the Iranian national security apparatus.

The Quds force played a significant role in the Iraq War by training Iraqi Shiites on how to make bombs that killed scores of American troops. The Quds force is now directing thousands of Iraqi Shiite militia members in Iraq, some of whom have gone to Syria to fight for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The U.S. calls Iran the world’s No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism. However, neither the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps nor the Quds force is on the State Department’s list of designated terrorist organizations. The Treasury Department in 2007 designated the Quds force as a material supporter of terrorism, but National Council of Resistance of Iran officials say the U.S. government should go much further.

“The Iranian resistance has emphasized on countless occasions that the source and the epicenter of terrorism, fundamentalism and regional meddling is the fundamentalist regime ruling Iran,” said Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the council’s Washington office.

The council said Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has approved a directorate inside the Quds force “in order to expand its training of foreign mercenaries as part of the regime’s strategy to step up its meddling abroad, including in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, Afghanistan and elsewhere.”

“The camps have been divided based on the nationality of the trainees and the type of training,” the council said. “Both terrorist training and also military training for militias are provided, enabling them to better infiltrate and advance the regime’s regional objectives.”

“Every month, hundreds of forces from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Lebanon — countries where the regime is involved in front-line combat — receive military training and are subsequently dispatched to wage terrorism and war,” the statement said.

In Lebanon, Iran supports, arms and finances Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist group that is also fighting for Mr. Assad in Syria.

Beyond the Middle East

Some Quds graduates have shown up outside the region and on the U.S. doorstep in Latin America.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testified before Congress, when he commanded U.S. Southern Command as a Marine Corps general, that Hezbollah operatives had arrived in South America and that Iran had opened scores of Islamic centers there.

Critics of the Obama administration’s negotiated nuclear deal with Iran, which freed up billions of dollars in frozen assets, say the concessions have failed to temper Tehran’s bellicosity or its desire to exert hegemony over the Persian Gulf region.

The council’s report says the Quds force oversees 14 training bases from operation headquarters at the sprawling Imam Ali air base. The commander reports directly to the Quds commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who has been directing operations in Iraq and in Syria.

The largest number of enlistees at Imam Ali are from Syria. They learn how to fire heavy weapons and missiles and to operate drones.

The council listed what it said were the locations and secret code numbers for other camps that conduct training in urban warfare, such as riding motorcycles in terrorist attacks. The council’s report, using satellite imagery, locates each camp on a map of Iran.

The Shahriar Garrison in southwest Tehran, for example, specializes in training Afghan mercenaries, who are then sent to Syria.

At the press briefing, Mr. Jafarzadeh, the council official, called on the Trump administration to add the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Quds force to the State Department’s terrorist list.

“The IRGC is the backbone of the apparatus established to preserve the dictatorship, which itself rests on three pillars,” he said. “The first is suppression within Iran. The second is export of terrorism and fundamentalism beyond Iran’s borders. And the third is the program to manufacture a nuclear bomb and nuclear-capable missiles to threaten other countries.”

MEK was once on the State Department’s terrorist list, for attacks it was accused of carrying out in the 1970s and 1980s, first against the government of the shah of Iran and later against the clerics who overthrew him and now dominate the regime in Tehran. The group fought a long, battle to get the designation lifted, and the Obama administration delisted MEK in 2012 after attesting that it had not been involved in terrorism for over a decade.

Venezuela’s new Vice-President and Iranian influence in Latin America

elaissami-vicepresidente-980-520x245Although El-Aissami was sanctioned yesterday for narcotics trafficking, there is more to the story.

Center for Security Policy, January 17, 2017:

Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro recently appointed Tareck El-Aissami to be his Vice-President. El-Aissami is suspected by the U.S. intelligence community to have ties with drug-traffickers, Iran, and Hezbollah. Iran is a sponsor of Islamic terrorism while Hezbollah is one of the terrorist organizations Tehran supports.

The new Venezuelan VP has many business dealings with Iran. Joseph Humire, founder of the Center for a Secure Free Society, testified before Congress that El-Aissami owns a network of 40 front companies. These shells have bank accounts set up in 36 countries, including the U.S. His network has been integrated with the Ayman Joumaa money laundering network that launders hundreds of millions of dollars and ships cocaine for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels as well as Hezbollah. So El-Aissami’s “companies” are probably responsible for hiding terrorist drug money and helping cocaine get into the U.S.

El-Aissami’s ties with terrorists do not end there. Between 2007 and 2010 as the country’s Interior Minister he participated in “Aeroterror,” which were flights between Caracas and Tehran with a stop-over in Damascus. According to Congressional testimony these flights carried drugs, arms, cash, and terrorists. All of these are worrying, but especially the last one since El-Aissami took part in a clandestine operation to provide fake Venezuelan passports to Islamic terrorists in Damascus. This could mean that he transported terrorists into Venezuela and then provided them with documentation that would allow them to move freely through Latin America.

This has been made possible partly thanks to Cuba. Tehran and Havana have been allies for decades. When Chavez took power in Venezuela he sought close ties with the Castro. In exchange for oil Cuba provided Venezuela with 200,000 workers, most of whom are intelligence officers. Along with Cubans also came Iranians who turned the country into a terrorist outpost.

Given El-Aissami’s strong ties with Iran and Hezbollah his appointment as Venezuela’s VP probably signals an increase of Iranian influence in the country and through the region. If the country opposition is actually able to recall President Nicolas Maduro effectively removing him from power, as unlikely as it is, El-Aissami would take charge.

This would most likely mean an Iranian and Hezbollah ally in control of a country that is in America’s backyard. Even if El-Aissami does not become President he might end up unofficially running Venezuela. If Maduro becomes bogged down fighting recall attempts, Al-Aissami might have more say in running the country. Also, since President Maduro has shown himself to be incompetent it is likely that he might depend on a seasoned politician like El-Aissami to be his chief decision-maker.

With El-Aissami as VP the Iranian mullahs could use their connections with him and the country’s desperate economic situation to get more Islamic terrorists into Venezuela. Given that Venezuela is strapped for cash and basic resources, it is possible that El-Aissami might agree to let in more terrorists in exchange for Iranian cash, not to mention increase drug-trafficking to make up for the missing revenue.

Iran could also use its ties to Venezuela to ship more terrorist to Maduro friendly countries like Cuba and Nicaragua. This would allow Iran and its ally Hezbollah to export Islamic terror into the Caribbean and Central America. From there these terrorists could try to make their way into the U.S using fake Venezuelan passports.

The long established threat capability of Iran in Caribbean and Latin America will only increase. This is an important factor to calculate in U.S.-Iranian relations.

Pro-Hezbollah Mullahs at San Jose’s Saba Islamic Center Promote Burning and Beheading Gays

‘Moulana’ Nabi Raza Abidi of Saba Islamic Center, San Jose, California. Nabi Raza is a staunch supporter of the grand Khomeinist mullahs Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei. Nabi Raza also audaciously promotes Hezbollah in the United States, in the very heart of Silicon Valley! (via http://hezbollahwatch.tumblr.com/)

‘Moulana’ Nabi Raza Abidi of Saba Islamic Center, San Jose, California. Nabi Raza is a staunch supporter of the grand Khomeinist mullahs Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei. Nabi Raza also audaciously promotes Hezbollah in the United States, in the very heart of Silicon Valley! (via http://hezbollahwatch.tumblr.com/)

By Lee Kaplan

Last December, the following announcement appeared on one of the Facebook pages of the Shia Association of the Bay Area (Saba Islamic Center), an extremist Khomeinist organization based in San Jose, California:

“Community Event of Support and Friendship Between Catholics and Muslims, Moulana Abidi and the Saba boards will be hosting Bishop McGrath from the Catholic Church, Imams from bay-area Mosques and Civic Leaders who will gather to offer joint prayers and start mutual dialog for solidarity of the two communities in serving humanity and support justice for all. Bishop McGrath leads over forty Catholic churches in Santa Clara County. This event will mark the first of many events expressing mutual understanding, support and friendship between Muslims and Catholics.

‘When: Monday Jan 16th 2016 (Martin Luther King Day)
Where: Saba Center, 4415 Fortran Court, San Jose CA 95134”

Bishop Patrick Joseph McGrath will no doubt unknowingly be used to put a good face on a bad association by urging his Catholic followers to recognize an Islamist organization that is the antithesis of what his Church seeks to promote when it comes to tolerance and peace. The Bishop will be declaring “solidarity” in the name of his 40 churches with the leaders and educators at Saba’s mosque and madrassa (school).

Saba recently inaugurated its new high school, Saba Academy, right in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Many observers of Saba view this development with alarm, as the Association’s activities have been persistently linked to extremism. Indeed, Saba and its imams, including Rafic Labboun (a.k.a. Wilhelm Dyck) and Nabi Raza Mir (a.k.a. Nabi Raza Abidi), have been shown to support Hezbollah. Labboun was jailed for a time for credit card fraud in a scheme the FBI thought was related to funding the terrorist group. He later was caught trying to flee the U.S. by the FBI with a fake Belizean passport using the identity taken from a dead baby. Homeland Security, Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton tried to keep Nabi Raza Mir from reentering the U.S. after he visited Iran due to suspicions of terrorist links but he was finally readmitted after multiple lawsuits filed by the National Lawyers Guild.

Hamza Sodagar and Farrokh Sekaleshfar, two Khomeinist “superstar mullahs” on the Islamist lecture circuit, are frequent speakers at Saba Islamic Center where Saba Academy’s curriculum is taught. Alarmingly, both mullahs justify the execution of gays under Sharia law.

Both men have lived, lectured and studied in Qom back in Iran. Qom is considered a holy city among Shiite Muslims. Sodagar, while in Qom, filmed a biography in which Sodagar calls Ali Khamenei, the present Supreme Leader of Iran and follower of the late Ruhollah Khomeini, the man who started the Iranian revolution against the West, a role model. He also has lectured on a letter from Khamenei where he discusses the obligations of youth in the West and how they should not be corrupted by the “Zionist controlled media [the Jews].”

Sekaleshfar has been seen lecturing repeatedly at a mosque in Cardiff, Wales next to a portrait of Ayatollah Khomeini, something always displayed at Shiite events back in the Middle East, but not inside the U.S. due to the hostage crisis and animus between the U.S. that followed with sanctions and Khomeini’s dubbing the U.S. “the Great Satan.” His Facebook is packed with praises of the late Supreme Leader of Iran, and Sekaleshfar is his best promoter. In a newsletter sent from Qom, Sekaleshfar admonishes Muslim youth outside Iran to follow Khomeini’s edicts and advice if they are to be good Muslims:

“These people have undergone and tolerated a vast array of sanctions during the last 30 years. What have you done for them? How have you contributed in the solidification of the masses in Iran? There are many Muslims struggling worldwide today, but strengthening the people of Iran has an extra significant bonus, i.e. strengthening Islamic Rule and Propagation worldwide.” This is a call to promote jihad and the Absolute Velayat-e-Faqih regime of Ruhollah Khomeini and is posted under a picture of the late Ayatollah in the newsletter (page7).

Sodagar has spoken at schools as far away as Canada’s York University, and even in the UK, but he appeared on a regular basis at Saba where he lectured about Sharia-compliant methods of executing homosexuals:

“For homosexual men, the punishment is one of five things. One, the easiest one maybe, is chop their head off, stop their heart. Two, burn them to death. Three, throw them off a cliff. Four, tear down a wall upon them. Five, a combination of these things.”

Public outcry over killing gays elicited a response from Sodagar. He explained he does not advocate executing gays in places where it is illegal, but rather in places where Islam is the law of the land. While such an explanation might mollify fears in non-Muslim communities, it nevertheless does not alter what Sodagar is preaching; Sodagar, a U.S. citizen, was born in Washington, D.C., but spent 14 years studying Shiite Islam in Iran, a country that routinely executes gays in public. Fluent in English, Sodagar lectures throughout the English speaking world – advocating the execution of gays as being part of God’s will.
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Farrokh Sekaleshfar also tours the world spreading the word of Islam and has spoken at St. Louis University and the University of Michigan about how to deal with homosexuals. Sekaleshfar also denies that he advocates genocide against gays where it is illegal, yet he has lectured at the University of Michigan in 2013 that “death is the sentence” for homosexuals and that executing them is an act of “compassion,” since “earthly punishment will gain them leniency in the afterlife.”

Sekaleshfar offered the same religious rulings at the Husseini Islamic Center near Orlando, Florida. A few weeks later, Orlando suffered a terrorist attack on a gay nightclub, carried out by Omar Mateen, which left 49 people dead and is listed as the greatest mass shooting in U.S. history. It isn’t clear if Mateen, a confused fan of Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and ISIS, who was previously investigated by the FBI, attended Sekaleshfar’s lecture in Orlando. Like Sodagar, Sekaleshfar was not born in Iran or another Islamic country, but in England and he holds a medical degree from Imperial College in London and has studied Islam extensively in the Middle East.

Sekaleshfar was deported from Australia while on a speaking tour there after he said in an interview with ABC that he had made his comments in an academic setting, and he regretted that they had been made public. He said he advocated the death penalty only for homosexuals who have anal sex in public in a country that abides by Islamic law.

Both these mullahs live and link back to the Khomeinist regime in Iran and promote the Iranian revolution against the West here in America. At SABA they are an inspiration. The facts that a mullah advocated genocide against gays in Orlando not long before the massacre at a gay nightclub while another preaches the same ideas illustrate the threat posed by such imams when speaking to the Islamic community, something Bishop McGrath may not know before he goes there with all his parishes to show “solidarity.”

Lee Kaplan is an undercover investigative journalist who has been published and on radio and television internationally. He has appeared as a contributing editor or regular columnist at FrontPage Magazine, Israel National News, Canada Free Press and IsraCampus. He is also a senior intelligence analyst and communications director for the Northeast Intelligence Network. He is a fellow at Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld’s American Center for Democracy and a member of the advisory council at the Intelligence Summit.

Why Are We Ignoring Jihadists in Latin America?

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Town Hall, by David Grantham, January 4, 2017:

Famed Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said Obama will go down in history as the worst foreign policy president of all time, after the U.S. chose to abstain in the U.N. Security Council vote on the resolution condemning the construction of Israeli settlements. Cataloguing the president’s foreign policy blunders and their consequences will keep scholars busy for some time. But his inability to craft a meaningful strategy for combating Islamic terrorism in Latin America with U.S. partners may be the most significant for U.S. national security. The American public will face the deadly consequences of Obama’s failure there unless Trump changes course.

The presence of Islamic terrorists in Latin America can be traced back decades to the Iranian-sponsored bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) headquarters in 1994 – together the attacks killed and injured over 650 people. The international community was reminded of those heinous events when, on January 18, 2015, Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found murdered the day before he was to present evidence to the Argentine Congress that showed then-president Cristina Kirchner and other Argentine officials had conspired with the Iranian government to cover-up Iran’s involvement in the AMIA attack. Joseph Humire, an expert on Iran’s influence in Latin America, called it the “most important political assassination in Latin America of the 21st century.”

Eight hundred miles to the north, Hezbollah and Hamas maintain a robust presence in the virtually lawless tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. This largely ungoverned locale is considered a breeding ground for terrorism and is known as a busy transit point for the sale and smuggling of contraband, which generates billions of dollars annually for groups like Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Author and senior Pentagon consultant Edward Luttwak describes the area as the most important base for Hezbollah outside of Lebanon. North Carolina-based Hezbollah cells involved in cigarette smuggling during the 1990s relied on assets in the tri-border area.

Infiltration by international terrorists of a region known for transnational organized crime has resulted in marriages of convenience. A report from Spain’s Defense Ministry in December 2016 outlined how Islamic terrorists have teamed up with drug trafficking organizations like El clan Barakat in Paraguay and Joumaa in Colombia to launder cash used to support terrorist activities. In fact, law enforcement officials in the southwest United States reported a significant increase in Hezbollah tattoos and imagery among imprisoned gang members.

Immigration stories naturally dovetail. A source for the U.S. State Department revealed in 2010 that Mexican drug cartels were likely smuggling known Arab extremists across the border into Texas. A lesser known story involves Hezbollah operative Muhammad Ghaleb Hamdar, who was arrested in Peru in October 2014 for planning a terrorist attack. He used an actual “marriage of convenience” to one Carmen Carrión Vela as part of his cover. She was arrested in November 2015 for material support to terrorism. The truly frightening detail of this episode: The convicted wife was a dual-citizen of Peru and the United States, and had twice traveled to the U.S. before Hamdar was arrested in Lima.

The Islamic State is now in the mix. The aforementioned Spanish report found that rapidly expanding Muslim communities have given rise to recruitment where as many as 100 Latin Americans have joined ISIS — 70 alone allegedly came from Trinidad and Tobago. That island nation says today’s radical Islamic elements operate like the local Jamaat al Muslimeen group that tried to overthrow the government in 1990.

These stories only gloss over a much bigger problem that also involves nation-state collaboration between the likes of Venezuela and Iran, nuclear technology in Argentina and the spread of Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi Islam in Latin America.

Despite all of this, the president shies away from confronting radical Islam. Despite all of this, the president helped enrich Iran to the tune of $10 billion. “Often considered a foreign policy backwater for the United States,” Joseph Humire writes, “Latin America has become a top foreign policy priority for the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Others like ISIS and Al Qaeda are not far behind.

Trump must reverse course and team up with Latin American partners to fight this war. Failure here will pale in comparison to failures elsewhere.

Iran’s proxy missile attacks

Missile Attack Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Missile Attack Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

The Islamic regime seeks control of Middle East waterways

Washington Times, by James A. Lyons, October 25, 2016:

The recent missile attacks attributed to Yemeni Houthi rebels, with assistance from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah, demonstrate Iran’s classic use of proxies to promote its political agenda. The Houthi rebels denied any involvement in the missile attacks. However, they certainly were not fired by camel herders. The Houthis never would have launched an attack on the U.S. Navy without being ordered to do so by their Iranian sponsors. To think otherwise would be delusional.

Iran has the failed to honor the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons agreement. There is actually no agreement, since nothing has been signed. With Russia’s support in Syria, Iran clearly feels emboldened to challenge the United States directly. And with the $150 billion sanctions relief windfall, plus planeloads of hard cash totaling more than $33 billion, Iran can easily expand its role as the leading state sponsor of terrorism, which is what we are witnessing in Yemen. The Iranian use of proxies has cost thousands of American lives, but, fortunately, this time they failed.

Clearly, Iran wants to be able to control the strategic Bab al Mandab Strait, which would give it de facto control of the Suez Canal. More than 10 percent of the world’s maritime shipping passes through that strait on a daily basis. Such control, when combined with control of the Strait of Hormuz, would give Iran control of all Arab oil shipments as well as all Israeli shipping emanating to and from the port of Eilat in the Red Sea. Iran would also like to see our 71-year alliance with Saudi Arabia terminated.

With the help of the IRGC and the Iranian proxy terrorist group Hezbollah, two radar sites were recently constructed outside of Yemen’s two principal Red Sea ports, Mokha and Hudaydah, which are currently under the control of the Houthi rebels. These sites, according to various reports, were operated by IRGC and Hezbollah radar and missile teams. The missiles fired were an upgraded version of the Chinese C-802 anti-ship missile. It should be remembered that on July 14, 2006, Hezbollah successfully fired a C-802 missile against the Israeli missile ship INS Hanit, inflicting heavy damage.

Despite Iran’s assurance about not providing weapons, the Houthis received a delivery the week prior to the missile attacks, the largest shipment of Iranian weapons to date. Obviously, this shipment, apparently undetected by our intelligence resources, included Scud D surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 800 kilometers as well as the upgraded Chinese C-802 anti-ship missiles. The Scuds went to the northern border to be used against Saudi Arabia, and the C-802 anti-ship missiles went to the Houthi’s Ansar Allah faction, which is under the direct control of the IRGC.

The same day missiles were fired against the USS Mason, Oct. 9, the Houthis, with the assistance of the IRGC, fired Scud-D missiles at the Saudi town of Ta’if, which is 700 kilometers from the Yemeni border — but, more importantly, only 70 kilometers from the holy city of Mecca. The message to the Saudis was clear. Iran intends to challenge the Saudis’ control of Islam’s most holy sites.

The Red Sea is a very narrow strategic body of water. It is only 62 kilometers from the Saudi coast to Africa. All shipping can be threatened and easily attacked with the current inventory of missiles transferred to Yemen.

The Houthis have also landed and taken control of Perim Island in the mouth of the Bab al Mandab Straits. Since the main maritime route is only 20 kilometers wide at this point, it serves as a natural choke point and a threat to all shipping as long as it remains under Houthi-Iranian control.

How did we get involved in this classic Sunni-Shia sectarian war? Very briefly, in late 2014, Shia Houthi rebel forces captured the capital city of Sana’a. The Houthis, backed by Iran, are fighting against the internationally recognized government of Yemen’s Sunni president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. In March 2015, the Saudis led a campaign to overthrow the Houthi rebels. President Obama, in an attempt to get Saudi Arabia’s support for his nuclear weapons agreement with Iran, agreed to support the Saudi effort. We proceeded to provide limited intelligence, in-flight refueling, command and control guidance and some weapons.

The missile attack on our forces in the vicinity of the Bab al Mandab Straits is another manifestation of Iran’s contempt for America and disregard for international norms. Further, with little to fear from an Obama administration response, they clearly have been emboldened to further their hegemonic objectives by challenging our forces directly. While the Houthi’s missile attack on the United Arab Emirate’s HSV-2 Swift Catamaran vessel was successful on Oct. 1, their attack on the USS Mason was, fortunately, a failure. While it took us four days to respond, the USS Nitze’s tomahawk missile strikes destroyed the three Iranian radar sites, which eliminated the immediate threat to shipping in the area.

This was a minimum response — a tit for tat — which will most likely invite more attacks, since C-802 missiles can be fired without radar. When an enemy attacks one of our U.S. Navy ships, our response must be overwhelming. =We should have destroyed not only the radar sites but also any missile-launching sites and any associated ammo storage sites. Any known Iranian installations should have been destroyed. Electrical utility grids that provide power to support Houthi rebels and Iranian forces in the two areas should also be destroyed. The Houthi installation on Perim Island should be eliminated. The message must be clear: “Don’t tread on me.”

James A. Lyons, a U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

ISIS, Hezbollah seen using weaponized drones, raising new fears in Syria

FILE- In this March 1, 2013 file photo, anti-Syrian President Bashar Assad protesters hold the Jabhat al-Nusra flag, as they shout slogans during a demonstration, at Kafranbel town, in Idlib province, northern Syria.  (AP)

FILE- In this March 1, 2013 file photo, anti-Syrian President Bashar Assad protesters hold the Jabhat al-Nusra flag, as they shout slogans during a demonstration, at Kafranbel town, in Idlib province, northern Syria. (AP)

Fox News, October 12, 2016:

French and Kurdish forces in northern Iraq were attacked by an exploding drone, the Pentagon said Wednesday, adding a new worry to the wars in Iraq and Syria as militant groups learn to weaponize their store-bought drones.

Air Force Col. John Dorrian, the spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq, said an improvised device on a drone exploded after it was taken back to a camp near the Iraqi city of Irbil. He called it a Trojan Horse-style attack.

Two Kurds were killed in that incident on Oct. 2, according to a U.S. official, who said the drone looked like a Styrofoam model plane that was taped together in a very rudimentary style. The official said it appeared to be carrying a C-4 charge and batteries, and may have had a timer on it.

That official was not authorized to discuss the incident publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

France’s presidential spokesman, Stephane Le Foll, said Wednesday that two French special forces were seriously injured in the explosion.

The U.S. has seen militants use a variety of improvised drones and modified drones, Dorrian said, adding, “there’s nothing very high tech about them.”

“They can just buy them as anybody else would,” he told reporters Wednesday. “Some of those are available on Amazon.”

A recently released video belonging to an al-Qaida offshoot, Jund al-Aqsa, purportedly shows a dronelanding on Syrian military barracks. In another video , small explosives purportedly dropped by the Iran-backed Shiite militant group Hezbollah target the Sunni militant group Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front, near Aleppo. The technology is not new, but the videos are the first known demonstration of these capabilities by any militant groups.

While militants with drones are not a significant military threat, Dorrian said the U.S. and its partner countries are taking it seriously.

Chris Woods, the head of the Airwars project, which tracks the international air war in Iraq, Syria and Libya, said, “there are a million ways you can weaponize drones — fire rockets, strap things in and crash them.”

“This is the stuff everyone has been terrified about for years, and now it’s a reality,” he added.

The U.S. military official couldn’t immediately authenticate the videos in question. But another former senior U.S. military official who viewed the videos said there was nothing to suggest they were fake.

A number of militant groups in the Middle East, including the Islamic State group, Jund al-Aqsa and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, as well as Hezbollah and Hamas, have all released videos indicating that they have surveillance and reconnaissance drones. Syrian anti-government rebels and militias loyal to President Bashar Assad were also flying cheap quadcopters and hexacopters as early as 2014 to spy on one another.

The surveillance drones allowed those groups to collect data on enemy bases, battlefield positioning and weaponry and to improve targeting.

Lebanon-based Hezbollah has claimed to have armed-drone capabilities for nearly two years, but a recent video of bomblets hitting a militant camp near the Syrian town of Hama is the first known documentation.

“It’s not going to change the overall balance of power in the region, but it matters by the very fact that these are things that are normally beyond the capability of insurgents or terrorists groups,” said Peter Singer, author of the book “Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century,” and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation.

Syrian skies are already bustling with traffic. Coalition forces have launched some 5,400 airstrikes on IS targets since September 2014. Drones account for only about 7 percent of America’s total air operations in Iraq and Syria because the U.S. is “stretched really thin” with drone operations in Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere, Woods said.

Russia is also showing off its own drone capabilities — albeit somewhat primitive compared to the U.S. Last month, the Russian Defense Ministry started live online broadcast of drone footage of the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo to “provide transparency” on whether the cease-fire is being implemented.

There is no question the militant groups are outmatched in the sky. But as cells linked to the Islamic State group pop up across Europe and the United States, the real concern is the potential impact these experimental small, flying bombs could have if launched over crowded cities.

“You already see things happening in Ukraine, gangs in Mexico are using drones, and in Ireland, gangs there are using surveillance,” said Wim Zwijnenburg, a security and disarmament policy adviser at Netherlands-based PAX for Peace. “Add a small amount of explosives to a small drone, and even the psychological factor is pretty significant.”

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Accused Hezbollah Operative Slated to Speak In Washington, D.C.

Azmi Bishara, an Israeli Arab and former lawmaker, speaks with journalists as he arrives to attend the emergency Arab leaders summit on Gaza in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Jan. 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Azmi Bishara, an Israeli Arab and former lawmaker, speaks with journalists as he arrives to attend the emergency Arab leaders summit on Gaza in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Jan. 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Washington Free Beacon, by  Adam Kredo, October 6, 2016:

A former Arab member of Israel’s parliament who was forced to flee the country after he was accused of working as a top Hezbollah operative is slated to speak next week in Washington, D.C., raising questions about how he obtained permission to enter U.S. soil.

Azmi Bishara, who is accused by Israel’s Shin Bet secret service of helping Hezbollah plot terrorist operations, is confirmed to speak next week at Washington’s downtown Marriott hotel as part of a conference organized by The Arab Center of Washington, D.C.

An official from the Arab Center confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon that Bishara will be attending the event, raising questions about how an individual linked to a U.S.-designated sponsor of terror obtained permission to enter America.

Bishara was initially slated to speak alongside former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who the Free Beacon has learned cancelled his appearance. The talk was to focus on the promotion of democracy in the Arab world, according to a current conference schedule.

McFaul’s image was removed from the conference’s webpage several hours after the Free Beaconmade an inquiry into the event.

Bishara remains listed as a speaker.

Bishara, who has been living in Qatar since he fled Israel in 2007, is accused by Israel of helping Hezbollah select targets during its 2006 assault on the Jewish state. Israel is still seeking to detain Bishara and charge him for these terror offenses. Israeli authorities have said they will arrest Bishara if he returns to the country, where he could face the death penalty, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The State Department declined to tell the Free Beacon if it granted a visa to Bishara. It remains unclear how he has gotten official permission to be in the United States, as Qatar, his current place of residence, is not part of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

A State Department official told the Free Beacon that visas are granted on a case-by-case basis, but remain confidential.

“We are unable to provide information on individual cases because visa records are confidential under U.S. law,” an official told the Free Beacon. “Visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with U.S. law.”

Additionally, “Section 222 (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits us from disclosing details from individual visa cases,” the official said.

One foreign policy insider familiar with the situation questioned how Bishara obtained entry to the United States.

“The Obama administration’s tilt toward Iran is so extreme that now a visa has been given to a Hezbollah terrorist so that he can visit Washington D.C.,” the source said. “The administration’s love affair with Iran is a disgrace to our country and a danger to our security.”

Bishara, a former chairman of Israel’s Balad political party, is accused by Israel of aiding Hezbollah agents during the 2006 war.

“Bishara allegedly provided ‘information, suggestions and recommendations,’ including censored material, to his contacts in Lebanon during the war,” according to Haaretz.

He currently serves as the general director at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Qatar.

FBI: 7,700 Terrorist Encounters in USA Last Year

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The jihad is crossing the southern border: a majority of encounters in Arizona were with Islamist groups.

CounterJihad, Sept. 26, 2016:

Breitbart news has received a collection of leaked documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation that show a massive number of terrorist encounters, especially in border states.  The documents are not classified, though they are marked sensitive.  7,712 terrorist encounters occurred from July 20, 2015 and the same date a year later — last year, in short.

Some of the documents pertain to the entire U.S., while others focus specifically on the state of Arizona.  The states with the highest encounters are all border states. Texas, California, and Arizona–all states with a shared border with Mexico–rank high in encounters…. Most significantly, the map shows that many of the encounters occurred near the border outside of ports-of-entry, indicating that persons were attempting to sneak into the U.S.

Page Six shows a pie chart indicating that the majority of encounters in Arizona were with Islamic known or suspected terrorists, both Sunni and Shi’a.

That last is surprising, as one would expect drug cartels to make up the majority of such encounters.  The leak comes at a time when the FBI’s crime reporting shows an increase in violent crime across the country.

The Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah has developed connections with the Latin American drug cartels because of its prominent role in heroin.  Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) controls the opium trade from the poppy fields in Afghanistan to the Levant, and they provide a great deal of opium to Hezbollah.  Hezbollah has a refining capacity in Lebanon that allows them to provide a substantial part of the world’s heroin.  They trade heroin to the Latin American drug cartels for other illegal money-making opportunities, forged documents, and access to the Americas.  Hezbollah’s operations produce between ten and twenty million dollars in revenue for its American operations, which are based out of a large Lebanese immigrant community in what is called the “Tri-border region,” an area between Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina.

In addition to its money-making ventures, Hezbollah provides the cartels with military training.  As one of the world’s foremost guerrilla organizations, Hezbollah finds that its military trainers are sought after commodities.  They are able to parley those connections in order to perform operations in Mexico.  Their ability to infiltrate the United States, in order to conduct terrorist violence in service to Iran, is highlighted by these leaked FBI documents.

The role of Sunni groups is less fully understood, but it was a concern for the intelligence section of the United States military’s Southern Command according to another set of leaks earlier this year.

Sunni extremists are infiltrating the United States with the help of alien smugglers in South America and are crossing U.S. borders with ease, according to a U.S. South Command intelligence report.  The Command’s J-2 intelligence directorate reported recently in internal channels that “special interest aliens” are working with a known alien smuggling network in Latin America to reach the United States….  Army Col. Lisa A. Garcia, a Southcom spokeswoman, did not address the intelligence report directly but said Sunni terrorist infiltration is a security concern.

“Networks that specialize in smuggling individuals from regions of terrorist concern, mainly from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, the Middle East, and East Africa, are indeed a concern for Southcom and other interagency security partners who support our country’s national security,” Garcia told theWashington Free Beacon….  “In 2015, we saw a total of 331,000 migrants enter the southwestern border between the U.S. and Mexico, of that we estimate more than 30,000 of those were from countries of terrorist concern,” she said….

[T]he Southcom intelligence report revealed that the threat of Islamist terror infiltration is no longer theoretical. “This makes the case for Trump’s wall,” said one American security official of the Southcom report. “These guys are doing whatever they want to get in the country.”

Here at CounterJihad, we reported on Southern Command’s commander, Admiral Kurt Tidd, and his testimony before Congress on the threat.  Tidd reported that a number of terrorists were transiting the region who had gone to Syria and fought for the Islamic State (ISIS) and other radical groups.  Their ability to return to Latin America was smooth, given that they actually had legal travel documents.

Whether they can then pass into the United States is an open question.  The leaked FBI documents only talk about actual law enforcement encounters with people on terrorist lists.  How many are infiltrating without encountering law enforcement?

Also see:

Securing that problematic border must be a component of a larger strategy that addresses many other failures and vulnerabilities of the immigration system.

If the U.S./Mexican border had been protected by the mythical “deflector shield” from the Starship Enterprise, the terror attacks of 9/11, the attack of the Boston Marathon by the Tsarnaev brothers, the terror attack at San Bernardino, and all of the other terror attacks America has suffered would not have been prevented.

Iran’s Terror Proxy Support Openly Defies Western Pressure

Getty Images

Getty Images

by IPT News  •  Sep 12, 2016

Several high profile Iranian officials recently boasted of the Islamic Republic’s steadfast support for terrorist organizations committed to opposing Western interests and the destruction of Israel, according to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

An adviser to Iran’s parliament speaker, Mansour Haqiqatpour, bragged that Iran would continue supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) despite ongoing negotiations taking place with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that seek to curb Iranian hardline behavior. Haqiqatpour referred to Hizballah and Hamas as “freedom fighter” groups, citing Islam and Islamic revolutionary ideology as primary motivations for Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism.

Hardline Iranian factions and leaders accuse the Iranian government of preparing to offer significant concessions in return for the country’s removal from the FATF blacklist. Mohsen Kouhkan, an Iranian parliamentarian, referred to the Iran-FATF negotiations as a “Zionist–American plot.” In July 2015, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi insisted that ceasing support for Hizballah in return for an agreement was out of the question.

Since the July 2015 nuclear deal was signed, Iran has expanded its presence in regional conflicts, leading to mounting IRGC casualties. In the last two weeks, six additional IRGC fighters were killed in Syria, including a high-ranking officer. A leader of an Iraqi Shi’ite militia praised IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani’s support and confirmed that Shi’ite militias would continue their regional operations after Mosul is cleared of Islamic State fighters.

Moreover, on Sept. 1, an Iranian diplomatic delegation met with Ali Barakeh – a Hamas representative living in Beirut – to discuss Iran’s ongoing support for Hamas’ violent fight against Israel. Despite notable disagreements since the outbreak of civil war in Syria, predominately Shi’ite Iran continues to court the Sunni Palestinian terrorist organization. The relationship suggests that defeating the Jewish state remains a common objective that supersedes sectarian divisions.

Click here to read the full report outlining recent developments from the Meir Amit Center.

Proponents of the Iran nuclear deal, including many within the Obama administration, argued that the agreement would moderate Iran’s behavior. Earlier this year, senior adviser Ben Rhodes even admitted that the Obama administration misled the U.S. public to promote the nuclear deal by falsely alluding to the emergence of a more moderate Islamic Republic. On the contrary, Iran immediately enhanced its support for terrorist organizations, while extremist factions within Iran gained more ground. Though some may debate Iran’s long-run trajectory, post-nuclear deal Iran has proved to be even more emboldened to pursue its regional hegemonic ambitions, while more pragmatic Iranian leaders increasingly are silenced.

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US official: Navy aircraft threatened with shoot down by Iran

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The Terrorist “Wing” Scam

MEF, by A.J. Caschetta
Middle East Quarterly
Fall 2016 (view PDF)

Modern terrorist organizations have managed to flourish despite their enemies’ attempts to squash them and have often done so by hiding in plain sight behind a nominal disguise. The most successful groups have achieved a kind of parity with the countries they attack by masquerading as complicated and diverse establishments for which terror is but one facet of their true—and variegated—nature. Nearly all terrorist organizations operating today have learned to conduct effective subterfuge by pretending to diversify.

On the rhetorical level, the illusion is advanced when a terror organization claims for itself an ancillary “wing,” “arm,” or “branch.” Most often it is either a “charitable wing” that operates orphanages and hospitals and distributes aid to the poor, or a “political wing” devoted to achieving the group’s aims through negotiation. In reality though, the group and its newly-sprouted wings are never separate but rather integral, interdependent parts of a whole. The pose allows them to prosper by legitimizing their continued existence as aid providers or embryonic governments rather than terrorist groups.

Even if a group does not itself refer to the new organization as its wing, eager journalists, academics and politicians surely will. The illusion of segmentation is among the most effective tools in the terrorists’ propaganda kit as they cleverly play on the compassionate nature of their targets and exploit the myth that all charities are inherently good, that philanthropy is intrinsically a praiseworthy undertaking, and that freedom to practice one’s religion is a universal right even when that practice denies basic human rights to others.

Western nations are keen on rewarding those who participate in a democratic process and engage in negotiations because this is seen as the rational, civilized way to bridge differences. Mere participation in the political process becomes a desirable outcome in and of itself. Western nations also give generously to charitable causes and facilitate the work of others who do likewise.

Terrorists understand this, and so like the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing they disguise their violent nature with the cloak of legitimacy through their nonviolent wings. Only by exposing the “wing” charade can states begin to adopt policies that effectively counter this ubiquitous tactic.

The Confidence Game

In the late nineteenth century, many radical organizations reveled in their infamy and wore the label terrorist proudly.[1] But after World War II, most sought to distance themselves from the newly-stigmatized term, calling themselves instead revolutionaries, freedom fighters, or resisters to imperialism.

At the same time, however, another trend emerged in which terrorists sought to replace the notoriety of their predecessors with an appearance of legitimacy. This was a means of survival rather than an ideological shift. By transforming its image as a violent group into that of a provider of charitable services or a legitimate political player, a terrorist group gains the time and space necessary to sustain a campaign of violence.

Terrorist organizations that use this subterfuge are merely following a template perfected by other criminal organizations. For traditional criminal syndicates trading in stolen or illegal products and services, this has historically involved the creation of “dummy” or “shell” companies to hide their illicit work and profits. Likewise, criminal gangs and drug dealers have long known that distributing goods to the poor (turkeys at Thanksgiving or toys at Christmas)[2] can buy them a degree of support and silence. The most successful terrorist organizations achieve a kind of respectability either by launching quasi-political branches or by operating charities, thus purchasing the toleration and even loyalty of those in their areas of operation.

A target state that agrees to negotiate with the political wing of a terrorist organization does so largely because of a credible threat of violence. Once a state falls for the phony compartmentalization, acknowledging or negotiating with a terrorist group’s wing, the bait has been taken. The con then evolves as the political wing offers to dissuade the military wing from undertaking more violence. Similarly, a target state will often give money to the charitable wing of a terrorist group in the hope that this action will sway hearts and minds within the population from which future terrorists are likely to emerge. The opposite, though, is true. A terrorist group with a charitable wing that operates a hospital, school, or orphanage has cleared a path to hiding both money and suspects; it can handily treat wounded terrorists and inculcate new ones. Further, any outside funds that go to humanitarian initiatives run by the terror group free up money for arms or violent undertakings. Any state that criminalizes a terrorist organization’s militant wing but allows its charitable wing to continue unfettered or negotiates with its political wing merely keeps the conflict alive by perpetuating the scam.

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The Muslim Brotherhood’s “Charitable Wing”

While Sinn Féin and the IRA were founded separately and only later formed their symbiotic relationship, Hassan al-Banna originally founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928 as an umbrella organization with units devoted to politics (Islamism and the restoration of the caliphate) and to charity (mostly focused on poor Egyptian boys). Only later, in 1940, did a militant wing appear. Drawing recruits from his version of the Boy Scouts, Banna used graduates of the Brotherhood’s “Rover Scouts” to make up the core of an elite vanguard known as the Apparatus or the Special or Secret Apparatus (al-Jihaz or al-Tanzim al-Khass, al-Jihaz as-Sirri) willing to kill for the cause.[10] Still later, in 1944, Banna launched a medical wing that operated clinics and pharmacies, and in 1945, founded the Muslim Sisters, which ran a girls’ school.

As a result of its assassination of Egyptian prime minister Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi on December 28, 1948, the Brotherhood was forced to go underground although its charities, hospitals, schools, social clubs, and youth groups remained intact for a time and continued to provide shelter, support and, most importantly, new recruits to the cause.

After an attempt on President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s life in 1954, however, all known Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Egypt were rounded up and either executed or imprisoned. The organization might have withered to nothingness had it not been for Zaynab Ghazali’s Muslim Women’s Association (Jama’at as-Sayyidat al-Muslimat), which had pledged allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood and managed to provide

food, medical care, and other support to … help reconstitute the organization, serving as a liaison among dispersed members andsympathizers, and conducting seminars on Islam with activists in her home.[11]

Over the next six decades, the legal status of the Brotherhood in Egypt seesawed between outright banning, to sporadic, intense repression, to a begrudging but limited acceptance, to a brief spell in power under Mohamed Mursi’s presidency. The organization has regularly franchised student, charitable, and even media wings throughout its sphere of influence while successfully camouflaging its relationship to these organizations.[12] From the beginning, its “method was to employ flexibility [muruna] and concealment [taqiyaor kitman] in order to spread Islam,”[13] especially in the West, and this wing charade was perpetuated either covertly or openly in every country to which the Brotherhood spread. In Jordan, for instance, the Muslim Brotherhood is a legal group that participates in politics through its “political wing,” the Islamic Action Front, while its connections to Hamas account for its militant wing.[14] The Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, itself a Brotherhood offshoot, retains a subsidiary called Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) as its charitable wing. Alongside supplying medical relief and establishing emergency clinics, JuD publishes a decidedly political weekly (Jarrar) and runs more than three hundred seminaries inculcating the Brotherhood’s Islamist message.[15]

In the aftermath of 9/11, some of the Brotherhood’s secretive doings and strategic imperatives have begun to be uncovered by U.S. and European authorities. A document dated December 1, 1982, which came to be known as “The Project” was discovered in a 2001 raid on the home of Youssef Nada, the director of the at-Taqwa Bank of Lugano, Switzerland. In it, Muslims worldwide are exhorted to set up dawa (proselytization) groups in the form of charities and other religious, cultural, and political organizations, which can operate out in the open expressly for the purpose of providing cover for violent jihad.[16]

“An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” dated May 19, 1991, is another document that came to light that elaborates on the concept of wings, arms, and branches in the Brotherhood. Written by Muhammad Akram (a senior official of both the Brotherhood and Hamas) it calls for the destruction of American society through “civilizational jihad” modeled on the actions of the prophet Muhammad:

our prophet Muhammad … placed the foundation for the first civilized organization, which is the mosque, which truly became “the comprehensive organization.” And this was done by the pioneer of contemporary Islamic dawa, Imam martyr Hasan Banna … when he and his brothers felt the need to “reestablish” Islam and its movement anew, leading him to establish organizations with all their kinds: economic, social, media, scouting, professional, and even the military ones.[17]

Akram concluded that America was “a country which understands no language other than the language of the organizations, and one which does not respect or give weight to any group without effective, functional and strong organizations” and cited as tools for the overall objective of overthrowing the United States a list of twenty-nine Brotherhood organizations including the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Students Association, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Muslim American Society, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the Occupied Land Fund (aka Holy Land Foundation).[18]

Although these documents and their implications are in the public domain and were widely reported on in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, over time these wings have been treated by reporters and pundits as moderate organizations largely because they have not been involved in acts of violence. The Muslim Brotherhood itself received a tremendous boost to mainstream acceptance by none other than U.S. president Barack Obama who pushed to have its leadership invited to his now-infamous Cairo speech of June 4, 2009. The Obama administration has not only supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and abroad but has also served the group’s interests domestically, treating the organization as a moderate ally, even hiring Brotherhood activists for important posts influencing foreign policy.[19] In the latest wrinkle to this stratagem, many of the original twenty-nine front groups listed in the explanatory memorandum have coalesced into an American Muslim Brotherhood political PAC called the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations,[20] in essence becoming the political wing of the charitable wing of a terrorist organization.

Read more

A.J. Caschetta is senior lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum.

SOUTHCOM Raises Alarms on Sunni Extremists Infiltrating U.S. Southern Border

3688885704Center for Security Policy, by Dr. Luis Fleischman, Sept. 6, 2016:

On August 21st the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) confirmed what the Menges Hemispheric Security Project has been warning about for a long time: the susceptibility of our Southern border to the infiltration of Middle East Terrorism. Most recently we warned that ISIS has the potential to operate in Latin America.

Reporting on cooperation between Iran or Iran’s proxy groups like Hezbollah and countries in Latin America such as Venezuela as well as drug cartels has been extensive. However, this time SOUTHCOM (which is responsible for all military activities in South and Central America) has explicitly talked about the infiltration of Sunni extremists from the Middle East, from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and from East Africa broaching our southern border.

These infiltrations, which are carried out with the help of professional smugglers trained in smuggling illegal immigrants from Latin America, represent a major problem given the threat of the Islamic State. What is more interesting is that neither the media nor even the Donald Trump campaign raised public concern over this report. It is particularly worrisome given the fact that Southern Command reported the infiltration of 30,000 individuals from the Middle East, which is the equivalent of 10% of the total illegal smuggling coming from the southern border.

It is obvious that the problem of our southern border remains a very serious issue that requires a solution as soon as possible. The security of our borders should be resolved before any other issue is resolved, whether the next president is Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

But for this to happen it is also imperative to look at the Western Hemisphere and Latin America not only in economic terms but also as a region that poses serious security challenges.

We have extensively covered all these challenges but with the rise of ISIS it is important to look into why the region is a fertile area for ISIS. First, the proximity of Latin America to the United States makes us vulnerable and provides easy access to those wishing to cross over our rather porous southern border.

Secondly, the northern states of Mexico as well as Central America constitute anarchical areas, territories without effective government. Ungoverned territories are fertile ground for terrorist activities. Third, corruption prevails. It is extremely easy to bribe judges, police, governors, and public officials as drug cartels have widely proved. By the same token, cooperation between ISIS and drug cartels should not be ruled out. After all, such cooperation has taken place between cartels and the Shiite Hezbollah. Drug cartels provide logistics and know the territory extremely well.

By the same token, there have been countries in the region that sold passports in exchange for money like Venezuela, whose embassy in Baghdad sold passports to whomever paid for them. Given the intense activity of ISIS and Sunni extremists in Iraq, it should not be surprising that some of these passports were sold to ISIS members or individuals associated to ISIS. Likewise, small Caribbean countries associated directly or indirectly with Venezuela and the ALBA coalition have been involved in the selling of passports raising eyebrows about the possibility that ISIS may have been one of the beneficiaries of such transactions.

It is also worthwhile to point out that Tareq Al Assami, currently the governor of the Venezuelan state of Aragua and a former Minister of interior was in charge of providing visas and passports. He is known for his connections with Iran and Hezbollah and his father was a former Secretary of the Iraqi Baath party in Venezuela. Former members of Sadam Hussein’s Baath party now constitute an important presence in the ranks of ISIS.

By the same token it should not be ruled out that with the recent peace accord agreed upon by the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) there could be a number of guerillas that refuse to accept the binding power of the agreements. If those dissidents from the FARC join forces with ISIS as they have done in the past with Hezbollah, it could have disastrous consequences for the security of the region.

Finally, it is important to point out that Latin American countries are not paying due attention to terrorism and less to Islamic terrorism as we have already pointed out. For example, Brazil has denied that there is any terrorist activity in Brazil despite the fact that Hezbollah has major cells operating in the country and even some Al Qaeda operatives. They have been the least cooperative country in tracking activities in the tri-border area.  Brazil does not consider Hezbollah, Hamas, or even the familiar Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as terrorist entities. This hopefully will change with the new interim government in Brazil or if a new government is elected as a result of Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment.

Therefore, the next president of the United States will need to take this issue very seriously. Failing to do so could place American lives at risk.

Dr. Luis Fleischman is a Senior adviser to the Menges Hemispheric Security Project at the Center for Security Policy in Washington DC. He is also an adjunct professor of Political Science and Sociology at Wilkes Honor College at Florida Atlantic University. He is the author of the upcoming book, “Latin America in the Post-Chavez Era: The Security Threat to the United States.”