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.”

U.S.-Backed Kurds to Assad Forces: ‘Surrender or Die’

DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/GETTY

DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/GETTY

In a critical battle, Washington’s most effective allies in Syria turn their attention away from fighting ISIS and toward the militias of Bashar al-Assad.

The Daily Beast, by Wladimir Van Wilgenburg, Aug. 23, 2016:

HASAKAH, Syria – U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters have Syrian President Bashar Assad’s militias under siege in the northern Syrian city of Hasakah, and they are leaving them two options: “Surrender or die.”

In a conflict where alliances shift kaleidoscopically and the potential consequences of unwanted clashes are apocalyptic, this battle has raised the possibility Washington will be drawn into a direct conflict with the Syrian regime even as the Obama administration continues to focus its war effort on the forces of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS.

The Americans’ key allies in the Syrian theater, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, are now very clearly fighting both ISIS and Assad. The lines of demarcation are increasingly hard to draw in Hasakah — and above it.

On Thursday, U.S. planes scrambled over the region when Syrian Air Force SU-24 attack planes launched strikes near the city.

A Defense Department spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, suggested that “coalition personnel” were on the ground there. He did not get into specifics, but as we have reported previously, numerous American and European advisors are very close to the action in Syria.

“We view instances that place coalition personnel at risk with the utmost seriousness,” Davis added, “and we do have the inherent right of self-defense when U.S. forces are at risk.”

Davis said this is the first time U.S. planes have been scrambled in response to Syrian bombing, and pointed out that the coalition has never before seen the Assad regime take such action against the mainly Kurdish YPG.

Only a few days ago, these Kurdish forces—in alliance with some Arab contingents backed by U.S. airstrikes and supported by U.S. and other Western special forces—played a major role taking the strategic city of Manbij away from the fighters of the so-called Islamic State.

Now very confident, seasoned and well armed, the Kurds appear about to achieve a victory not just over Assad’s beleaguered partisans in Hasakah, but by extension against his strategic backers from Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah—and Russia.

All the parties understand what a crucial turning point this represents.

Previously, the Assad regime and its supporters had acquiesced in the Kurdish operations against ISIS. Damascus was aware that the Kurds’ goal is to establish a federal autonomous (if not indeed independent from Damascus) region called Rojava along the northern Syrian frontier. That’s no secret.

But Damascus clearly thought it could address other threats first, putting its priority on crushing any remotely credible opposition, then perhaps turning on ISIS, which it initially helped foster, then taking care of the Kurdish problem one way or the other.

The Hasakah fighting has brought that tacit agreement to an end.

Moscow, hoping a deal might yet be made for a truce, sent a delegation last week to try to broker a ceasefire, but there was none to be had.

The Kurds now reject any form of agreement and demand regime forces leave the province of Hasakah altogether, giving the YPG and its political arm, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), complete control.

Note that Hasakah province is rich in oil and gas resources. Prior to the Syrian war, nearly half of Syria’s oil came from here. If Rojava is to survive, that oil and gas will be an important source of income, and the Kurds are not inclined to give it up.

The Assad regime “is increasingly weak and the regime’s external supporters have little ability to support the regime’s armed forces there,” Michael Stephens, the head of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in Qatar, told The Daily Beast. And the events of the last couple of days would seem to bear that out.

When the Russian-brokered truce failed, even as the Syrian regime jets started to hit Kurdish positions and American or other coalition aircraft took to the air to warn them off, the Kurdish offensive continued.

Here in Hasakah, it’s clear the fighting between the YPG and the regime forces is much more intense than skirmishes in April. This time the battle has gone on for six days.

YPG officials say there are only a few pockets of Syrian government control left in a municipality that used to have a population of 200,000 people, and those holdouts are low on supplies.

“They used to say we are friends with the regime, but we are not a friend, we are supported by the people,” local commander Loqman told me before manning a heavy machine-gun on a pick-up truck and blasting away at government positions.

On television Sunday, the exhausted looking Syrian governor of Hasakah, Mohammad Za’al Ali, desperately pleaded with the Kurds to stop the fighting.

“Kurds in Hasakah are Syrians and cannot operate without the government,” he insisted on Kurdistan24, one of the few local TV stations operating in northern Syria. “Kurds cannot impose their control by force.”

But local commander Loqman said that the Kurds would not stop the fight. “What’s the job of the regime here? They have killed thousands of people, made millions of people homeless,” he said. “We should kick them out, that is my view.”

He also complained about the presence of foreign Shia militia fighters backed by Iran. These Syrian lands are his home, he said. “What is the work of Hezbollah here; what is the work of Russia here to kill civilians by airstrikes in Aleppo?”

In Hasakah’s dusty streets, local fighters wearing black scarves were keeping their heads down.

The town has a large Christian population, and one of the fighters, a Kurd with green eyes, wore a defiant white t-shirt: “Blasphemer,” it said. He also wore several crosses around his neck as he moved toward the front line. Christians fleeing the city center had given crucifixes to fighters, a local commander said.

Sniper fire is a major concern, and there’s a common belief the sharpshooters are foreigners.

“Iranian snipers hit civilians, no matter if they are Kurdish or Arabs,” says a 22-year-old Arab who goes by the pseudonym Adam. “There are Iranians, Afghans, Iraqis, Lebanese from Hezbollah, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard,” he said, although I was not able to confirm this on this ground.

Dozens of Arabs from Hasakah and other towns have joined the Kurdish forces, but often won’t talk on the record for fear of government reprisals against their families in areas still controlled by the regime.

“I joined to protect our honor, because the Syrian regime is oppressing the people, killing civilians, and hitting them with air strikes,” Adam said.

On Sunday afternoon there were no Syrian airstrikes and fighting slowed down, with occasional sniper and heavy machinegun fire. “From yesterday until now the airstrikes did not hit us,” said Loqman.

“The fighting stopped now because there are civilians; we most stop the war because there are civilians,” said Saydo, the other local commander, who speaks English. “But in the night the fight will begin again,” he said as we talked near the city’s central market.

Hussam Hassan, 50, a Kurdish civilian who was wearing a pink towel on his shoulders to deal with the sweat from the blazing heat, said he hoped to return to his house again soon.

“We flee because of the security,” he said near a Kurdish police checkpoint. “We are afraid, and I have children. There are airstrikes, artillery, and bullets.” He left by taxi to a village 15 kilometers away.

Sihanouk Dibo, a Kurdish official of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) accused the Syrian government of attacking the Kurds in agreement with Iran and Turkey, which opposes the declaration of a federal system for the Kurds and is hostile to the YPG/PYD, which is very closely allied with the insurgents of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) operating insider Turkey.

“They don’t want a democratic federal region from Qamisli until Afrin,” Dibo said, referring to two major towns in northern Syria. They don’t want us to cut all the roads for terrorists,” Dibo said, noting that many ISIS recruits from abroad initially came into Syria through Turkey.

On Sunday evening, as predicted, heavy fighting resumed again in the city center and continues now, with the Kurds steadily advancing against Syrian government fighters.

“The regime has only a few points left, and is running out of water and food,” Ismael Resho, a YPG commander told The Daily Beast.

The battle may be ending for now, but the kaleidoscope continues to turn, and the war goes on.

Southern Command Warns Sunni Extremists Infiltrating From South

A Mexican soldier patrols along the U.S.-Mexico border wall on the outskirts of Nogales, Mexico / AP

A Mexican soldier patrols along the U.S.-Mexico border wall on the outskirts of Nogales, Mexico / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Bill Gertz, Aug. 22, 2016:

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. The smuggling network was not identified.

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.

“There are major hubs that serve as entry points into the region for migrants from those areas of concern attempting to enter the U.S. along our border with Mexico,” she said.

The infiltrators from terrorist states and unstable regions exploit vulnerabilities in commercial transportation systems and immigration enforcement agencies in some of the countries used for transit, Garcia said.

“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. [emphasis added]

Another problem in dealing with migrants from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia is a lack of information among the governments of the countries used by potential terrorists for transit.

The exploitation of alien smuggling networks by terrorists until recently had been dismissed by both American security officials and private security experts as largely an urban myth.

However, the 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.”

Adm. Kurt Tidd, Southcom’s commander, said last week that the lack of information is hampering security efforts against alien smuggling.

“An element that has been long recognized is that our ability to track people moving through transportation systems is an area that we must continue to devote efforts on, and the ease with which human traffickers are able to use our transportation systems to move people through the networks relatively undetected should give us all concern,” Tidd said.

Special interest aliens are described by the U.S. government as aliens who pose a potential terrorism threat coming from 34 nations in the Middle East, Africa, Southwest Asia, Central Asia, and East Asia. The list of states of concern includes Afghanistan, Iran, Kuwait, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Eritrea, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump last week called for stepped up counterterrorism measures that he said would involve “extreme vetting” of immigrants in a bid to better screen out potential terrorists.

Trump also has made a campaign theme the construction of a wall across the United States’ southern border as part of efforts to better control the flood of illegal immigrants.

Joel Vargas, head of Contingent Security Services and a consultant to law enforcement agencies, said there is no evidence Sunni extremists are creating new relationships with alien smugglers. However, he said in an email that “existing smuggling networks from Central America are increasing their access.”

“We have intercepted immigrants coming from Asia but we have been unable to determine if they are extremists,” Vargas said. “Our Sunni illegal migration coming from [Latin America] is very small. On the other hand, they can use the networks set up by the Shia.”

A report produced by Vargas for the International Airport, Seaport and Transport Police states that the Iran-backed Shiite terror group Hezbollah mainly has ties to Latin American through overseas Lebanese expatriates.

Hezbollah recently increased support in transnational crime in the region by supply arms and training to various groups.

“Hezbollah’s current goals appear to be focused on accruing resources rather than conducting offensive operations, however the group’s growing capabilities are still a clear threat to regional U.S. interests,” the report said. “Iran’s involvement in Latin America is also increasing, and Hezbollah will likely be able to use these budding political and economic ties as cover for its operations.”

Vargas said Hezbollah’s networks in Latin America could be used by Sunni extremists to get to the United States. “That is a workable situation,” he said. “If they disclose they are ISIL or any other group, I doubt that even the Shias will help out. Even [drug] cartels are killing anyone who appears extremist. It is bad for their business.”

According to Vargas, Guatemala remains a weak link for regional security services. A sophisticated alien smuggling operation that is capable of moving foreign nationals into the United States from Africa and other states has been centered in that Central American state for at least the past six years.

The Washington Times reported in June that an international alien smuggling network centered in Brazil helped sneak illegal immigrants from Middle Eastern states to the United States, including an Afghan linked to a terror plot in North America.

At least a dozen Middle Easterners reached the Western Hemisphere through this alien smuggling ring that facilitated travel to Mexico, the Times reported, quoting internal government documents.

The aliens involved Palestinians, Pakistanis, and the Afghan man with ties to the Taliban.

Some of the aliens were stopped before entering the United States but others succeeded in crossing the U.S. border.

One transit route used in the past by alien smugglers was identified in a recent Justice Department alien smuggling case that traced illegal immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to Honduras, then to Guatemala and finally to Mexico and into the United States.

The cost of getting into the United States can reach $400 or more per person, and the illegal immigrants are provided with transportation, covert smuggling contacts along routes into the country, as well as instructions on how to illegally cross the U.S. border. The instructions in the past have included armed guides who ferry illegal aliens across U.S.-Mexico border rivers on inner tubes.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified during a Senate hearing in February that Islamic State terrorists would try to infiltrate the United State posing as immigrants.

“That’s one technique they’ve used is taking advantage of the torrent of migrants to insert operatives into that flow,” Clapper said. “As well, they also have available to them—and are pretty skilled at phony passports so they can travel ostensibly as legitimate travelers as well.”

ISRAEL’S NEXT HEZBOLLAH WAR

hez
Philos Project, by Andrew Harrod, Aug. 12, 2016:

Between Israel and Hezbollah, “another conflict is all but inevitable,” wrote retired Israeli Brigadier General Yakov Shaharabani. “It will be far more destructive and harmful than any other war Israel has fought in recent memory.” The former Israeli Air Force Intelligence chief thus introduced a sobering Foundation for the Defense of the Democracies report a decade after Israel’s last clash with the Lebanese terrorist organization.

Shaharabani said that the July 2006 Lebanon War “was the longest Israel had experienced since its War of Independence in 1948,” but any future clash with Hezbollah will make those destructive 34 days pale by comparison. According to his FDD coauthors, the Israeli government estimates that Hezbollah has approximately 150,000 rockets today as opposed to the mere 14,000 it possessed prior to the 2006 conflict. Writing for the Weekly Standard, Vanderbilt University law professor Willy Stern said that this gives Hezbollah a “bigger arsenal than all NATO countries – except the United States – combined.”

Stern elaborated that Hezbollah’s state sponsor Iran has “supplied its favorite terrorist organization with other top-of-the-line weaponry,” including advanced Russian-made anti-tank and anti-ship missiles and air defense systems. The FDD report noted that sanctions relief for Iran under the recent nuclear agreement will only darken this picture, for “Iran’s massive windfall is expected to trickle down to its most important and valuable proxy: Hezbollah.” Additionally, “Hezbollah has gained significant experience during five years of fighting in Syria” for the embattled Bashar Assad dictatorship.

Israeli Defense Forces leaders have presented Stern with grim scenarios in which “elite Hezbollah commandos will almost certainly be able to slip into Israel and may wreak havoc among Israeli villages in the north.” Given Hezbollah’s “capacity to shoot 1,500 missiles per day, Israel’s high-tech missile-defense system will be ‘lucky’ to shoot down 90 percent of incoming rockets, missiles and mortars.” Accordingly, “IDF planners quietly acknowledge that ‘as many as hundreds’ of Israeli noncombatants might be killed per day in the first week or two of the conflict.”

The FDD report documented Shaharabani’s prediction that the “next Lebanon war could actually devolve into a regional war.” With Hezbollah’s expanding into Syria, “Hezbollah and Iran plan to connect the Golan Heights to the terror group’s south Lebanese stronghold – to make it one contiguous front against Israel. Iran can also unleash violence on Israel through its Palestinian proxies,” meaning, for example, that Hamas rockets “could force the Israelis to divert Iron Dome and other anti-missile batteries to the southern front with Gaza.” As Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “was already embedded with Hezbollah during the last conflict, there is the very real possibility that Iranian forces could join Hezbollah in battle during the next confrontation.”

The FDD report noted that recurrent Israeli airstrikes against Hezbollah and Iranian targets in Syria raise the dangers of killing Russian advisers or coming into combat with Russian warplanes now supporting Assad against the Syrian rebels. Israeli consultations with Russia seek to avoid these clashes, but scholar Michael Doran warned at his Hudson Institute’s July 26 panel discussing the report that the “potential for friction there is enormous.” Recent American coordination plans with Russia in striking jihadist groups like the Islamic State would enable the Assad coalition to approach Israel’s borders, implicating an Israeli “red line” concerning the IRGC there.

Experts agree that a future Hezbollah-Israel conflict’s havoc will engulf as well Lebanon, termed at the Hudson Institute as “Hezbollahstan” by the Israeli embassy’s Deputy Head of Mission Reuven Azar. “The IDF no longer distinguishes between the sovereign nation of Lebanon and Hezbollah,” Stern has written, now that the Shiite-based organization has expanded its influence beyond its south Lebanon stronghold to countrywide domination. Simultaneously, “Hezbollah cleverly places its arsenal where any Israeli military response – even legal, carefully planned, narrowly targeted, proportionate measures – will lead to huge civilian casualties among Lebanese.” As report author Jonathan Schanzer noted at a July 25 FDD event, Hezbollah has “turned Shia villages into essentially missile silos.”

“We are not in the business of trying to provoke a new round,” Azar said, echoing certain arguments in the FDD report, yet several factors indicate that Israel will accept a decisive challenge with Hezbollah if it comes. While report author Tony Badran noted at the Hudson Institute that Hezbollah “is not even comparable to what it was in 2006,” the coming years “risk seeing a Hezbollah that is infinitely more capable in terms of its weapon systems. This time period of the Iran nuclear agreement also portends an Iran that is unleashed, that is probably by that point a threshold nuclear state with a legalized industrial scale program and recognized regional primacy in Iraq and Syria.” As the FDD report stated, the nuclear deal “has placed Iran on a patient pathway to a nuclear weapon. The clock is ticking. Israel’s window of opportunity to defeat Hezbollah in the shadow of the nuclear deal cannot be ignored.”

Not surprisingly, the FDD report cited Israeli assessments of Hezbollah as Israel’s greatest threat, a view confirmed by Schanzer’s past three years of meetings with Israeli officials. While Shaharabani at FDD discussed how Hezbollah would view not losing a future conflict with Israel as a victory, Israel would desire a short, yet decisive campaign against a growing threat, however contradictory these two goals. As he wrote, “Israel may find out very quickly that deterring Hezbollah is not a sufficient strategic goal. Therefore, defeating Hezbollah (or forcing it to leave Lebanon) might become its strategic objective.”

Although Shaharabani’s remarks noted that the more extensive Israel’s actions against Hezbollah, the likelier the intervention by Iran and others, the FDD report remained resolute. “Should war break out, the United State should actively delay the imposition of a premature ceasefire in order to buy the Israelis as much time as needed to complete their military campaign,” it read. This no substitute for victory approach makes eminent sense if, as Carnegie Endowment for International Peace scholar Joseph Bahout judged at FDD, Israel’s war with Hezbollah is unavoidable, only the “question is when and under which circumstances.”

Freed-Up Frozen Funds, Sanctions Relief and Ransoms Only Aid Iran’s Global Crime Syndicate

hCNS News, by Clare Lopez, Aug. 10, 2016:

“As long as Iran has money, Hizballah will have money,” Hizballah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah boasted in a late June 2016 interview. “We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added to Hizballah’s official Al Ahed newspaper.

Well, not quite everything.

In the past, Hizballah’s annual income from Iran was estimated at $100-200 million annually, with more received after the devastating 2006 war with Israel. More recently, however, as sanctions bit down on the Iranian economy even as the mullahs ramped up Iran’s nuclear weapons development and poured resources into the battle to save its Damascus proxy regime, the amounts Tehran could provide to Hizballah declined. Hizballah itself was called upon by Tehran to provide fighters, funding, and weapons to the Syrian effort. At least partly as a result, the time since 2011 has been marked by an expansion of Hizballah’s already-extensive global crime network. While Hizballah long has relied on a worldwide network of Shi’ite Lebanese businesses, criminal syndicates, and other supporters for financial and operational support, the urgent need to bolster its own funding efforts has pushed Hizballah increasingly into scaling up its narcotrafficking and related criminal activities—naturally with the full knowledge and approval of its Iranian masters.

Since its creation by Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the early 1980s, Hizballah has been involved in the local drug trade, built on traditional smuggling operations across the Middle East. Then the Lebanese civil war sent a Lebanese diaspora to the Western Hemisphere in which Hizballah operatives easily blended. Its first foothold was in the lawless Tri-Border area of South America, where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet. Partnership with Colombian cocaine traffickers and willing collaboration from Venezuela gave Hizballah a new revenue stream as well as a base of operations with hemispheric proximity to Tehran’s number one ‘Great Satan’ enemy.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the drug trade is now Hizballah’s number one source of income. Collaboration between Iran, the IRGC, Qods Force, Hizballah, narcotrafficking cartels, and organized crime has grown exponentially in recent years, according to Michael Braun, retired senior official for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). In June 2016 testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, Braun reported that Hizballah today is smuggling “hundreds of tons of cocaine from the Andean Region of South America into Venezuela” and from there onto ships destined for European markets via West and North Africa.

Operation Smokescreen was the name given to a Hizballah cigarette-smuggling operation run out of Charlotte, North Carolina, with links across the U.S. and in both Canada and Lebanon. Describing the complex network of banks, criminal operations and front companies that garnered tens of millions of dollars in profit for Iran’s terror proxy, law enforcement spokesmen identified a restaurant, painting business, tobacco shops, and credit card, mail and visa fraud, all as part of this Hizballah operation that was shut down in 2002.

In December 2011, DEA unraveled a large Florida-based criminal used car operation whose known profits netted Hizballah close to $500 million through the sale of counterfeit currency and bulk cash smuggling, some of which was also used to procure “a long list of sophisticated weapons.”

And finally, in January 2016, Customs and Border Protection (CPB), DEA, and international law enforcement partners busted yet another narcotics trafficking and money laundering operation dubbed Project Cassandra. Once again, the direct involvement of Hizballah operatives—always under the authority and supervision of the Iranian IRGC, Quds Force and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS)—was uncovered. A South American network of drug cartels called the Business Affairs Component (BAC), set up by Hizballah terror chieftain Imad Mughniyeh (assassinated in 2008) as a criminal division of Hizballah’s External Security Organization, managed this drug trafficking operation and laundered the proceeds through the Black Market Peso Exchange (a drug money laundering system). Managed by senior Hizballah operatives, some of whom are Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) figures, the BAC was moving cocaine and money to Europe, Iraq, Lebanon and the U.S. The arrest of SDGT Mohamad Noureddine in connection with Project Cassandra may have put a temporary crimp in some of Hizballah’s drug trafficking, but officials point to an actual expansion of such operations since a nuclear deal was made with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that took effect in July 2015.

U.S. willingness to deal directly with the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world has emboldened both Tehran and Hizballah. The JCPOA was only supposed to be about Iran’s nuclear industry, but its criminal, narcotics and terror industries got the message, too: individual U.S. agencies do their best, but the mullahs still have top cover.

Billions in freed-up frozen funds, sanctions relief, and ransoms paid for American hostages don’t hurt either.

Clare M. Lopez is the Vice President for Research & Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.

Israeli-Saudi Ties Warming; Hizballah and Iran Livid

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

PJ MEDIA, BY P. DAVID HORNIK, AUGUST 7, 2016:

The Israeli society that I encountered embraces a culture of peace, has accomplishments it wants to (protect), wants coexistence, and wants peace.

Those words weren’t spoken by an enthused congressman after a trip to Israel. They were spoken to BBC Arabic by Abd al-Mujid al-Hakim, director of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Policy in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, and a member of a Saudi delegation that recently visited Israel.

The delegation, which included academics and businessmen, was led by Dr. Anwar Eshki, a retired Saudi general and former top adviser to the Saudi government. About a year earlier Eshki had shaken hands and shared a stage in Washington with Israeli Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold—seen as a major breakthrough at the time. But a public visit to Israel of this kind, which could only have been carried out with the approval of the highest level of the Saudi government, is a historical first and still has a taste of the surreal to it.

During the visit Eshki met again with Gold; with Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, responsible for Israeli administration of the territories; with Palestinian officials in Ramallah; and with opposition Members of Knesset.

One of those opposition MKs, Issawi Frej of the far-left, mostly Jewish Meretz Party, said:

The Saudis want to open up to Israel. It’s a strategic move for them. They want to continue what former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat started (with the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty). They want to get closer with Israel, and we could feel it clearly.

What’s going on?

Israeli commentator Yossi Melman, while noting that the visit marks a new plateau in the increasingly overt Israeli-Saudi ties, points out:

[O]n a covert level, according to foreign reports, the ties being cultivated are even more fascinating. Intelligence Online reported that Israel is selling intelligence equipment, as well as control and command centers, to the Saudi security forces. Previously, it had been reported in the foreign media that the heads of the Mossad, the organization responsible for Israel’s covert ties, met with their Saudi counterparts. Media outlets affiliated with Hezbollah even reported that officers from the two countries’ armies had met.

What’s going on, in other words, is that Israel and Saudi Arabia have common enemies in the region, and with American power withdrawing, Israel’s power constantly growing, ISIS threatening, and the Obama administration having paved a path to nuclear weapons for Iran, the Saudis—like Egypt, Jordan, and other Sunni states—are casting their troubled gaze toward Jerusalem.

Or as Melman puts it:

Israel and the Saudis share a fear for Iran’s nuclear program and Tehran’s efforts to increase its influence in the region. They also both have an interest in weakening the standing of Hezbollah, “the forward headquarters” of Iran on Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks often of Israel’s ties with the “Sunni Bloc,” and hints that the Saudis are included in this group.

It appears that he need hint no more.

Last week’s Saudi visit to Jerusalem—a dramatic, even stunning confirmation of Israel’s cooperation with that bloc—did not go unnoticed, of course, by the rival Shiite bloc. And they’re not happy about it.

Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah accused the Saudis of “normalizing for free, without receiving anything in return…. It seems the future of Palestine and the fate of its children have become a trivial matter for some Arab states recently.”

The Saudi visit, he said, “couldn’t have taken place without the agreement of the Saudi government. We know how things work there. In Saudi Arabia a person will be lashed for so much as tweeting.”

But if Nasrallah is not pleased with this development, his boss—Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei—is even less thrilled.

As Khamenei tweeted on Monday: “Revelation of Saudi government’s relations with Zionist regime was stab in the back of Islamic Ummah.”

None of this means that the Sunni Arab part of the Ummah is ready to warmly embrace Israel. While in Israel last week, Dr. Eshki—like Egyptian and Jordanian officials before him—said that real “normalization” would have to await a resolution of the Palestinian issue. It’s code for: “We’re not really ready to accept a Jewish state in our midst.”

Still, considering that Israel and Sunni Arab states used to fight wars every few years, a reality of nonbelligerency and pragmatic ties is a major improvement for Israel. Whoever is the next U.S. president might want to cooperate with the Israeli-Sunni alliance against Iran instead of giving the mullahs a “sunset clause” leading to nuclear night.

Homeland Security Advisory Council: Covering for the Enemy Threat Doctrine

Terror Trends Bulletin, by Christopher W. Holton

America is at war and we continue to be prevented from identifying and understanding our enemies as a result of influence operations targeting our bureaucratized counterterrorism apparatus.

The latest evidence of this long-standing and, unfortunately, very effective influence campaign comes from the revelation that the “Countering Violent Extremism Subcommittee” of the Homeland Security Advisory Council to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued a recommendation that urges rejecting use of Islamic terms such as “jihad” and “shariah” in communications about the threats that we face….

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/homeland-security-report-calls-rejecting-terms-jihad-sharia/

This is nothing new. We have heard CIA director John Brennan reject the term “jihadist” and the State Department under Condoleezza Rice rejected the use of the term as well.

We have covered the damaging efforts by our enemies to prevent the actual correct use of the term “jihad” extensively here on Terror Trends Bulletin in the past…

https://terrortrendsbulletin.com/2013/01/13/cairs-new-disinformation-campaign-on-jihad/

But the effort to suppress even mere mention of the word “shariah” is actually much more damaging than the suppression of the word “jihad.” That’s because shariah is THE enemy threat doctrine.

To understand our enemies, their motivations, their intentions and their strategy, one must study shariah. Shariah is everything to the jihadists. It is the code that they follow and its full implementation is their goal.

Forbidding the use of the term shariah, much less suppressing study of shariah in the present conflict is the equivalent of forbidding intelligence agencies from studying Mein Kampf in World War II or the works and words of Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao during the Cold War.

Anyone who would recommend that we avoid studying and talking about shariah simply must have a nefarious purpose.

By way of review, shariah is Islamic law. The terms shariah and Islamic law are completely interchangeable; they refer to exactly the same thing. Shariah is an immutable theo-political-legal-military code derived from the Islamic doctrinal trilogy, made up of the Quran, the Sirah (the biography of the prophet Mohammed) and the Hadith (traditions, sayings and stories compiled about the life of Mohammed).

Every single Jihadist terrorist group in the world–without exception–has as its stated goal the imposition of shariah: the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, HAMAS, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, Lashkar e Taiba, Abu Sayyef, Jemaah Islamiyah, Boko Haram, the Taliban, Al Shabaab–all of them.

So, while the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be carefully avoiding the use of the term shariah, our enemies have been using it quite commonly, frequently and prominently, as if to illustrate the absurdity of the DHS recommendation.

What follows is a compilation of quotes from jihadi leaders and Al Qaeda and Islamic State documents that reveal the central importance of shariah to their movement. This is why Americans must familiarize themselves with shariah.

SHARIAH ACCORDING TO THE JIHADISTS THEMSELVES

• The sharia has forbidden us from taking infidels as confidants, inducting them into our secrets.
• The sharia forbids us from appointing infidels to important posts.
• The sharia forbids us from adopting or praising the beliefs and views of the infidels.
• The sharia forbids us from assisting infidels against Muslims; even the one who is coerced has o excuse to fight under the banner of infidels.
• The sharia commands us to battle infidels—both original infidels and apostates, as well as hypocrites. As for waging jihad against the infidels who have usurped the lands of Islam, this is a duty considered second only to faith, by ulemaic consensus.
• The sharia does not accept the excuses made by hypocrites—that they befriend the infidels because they fear the vicissitudes of time.
• We are duty-bound by the sharia to help Muslims overcome the infidels.

Ayman al-Zawahiri
Al Qaeda leader

Osama bin Laden sits with his adviser and purported successor Ayman al-Zawahiri during an interview in Afghanistan, Barack Obama

Democracy is based on the principle of the power of creatures over other creatures, and rejects the principle of God’s absolute power over all creatures; it is also based on the idea the men’s desires, whatever they may be, replace God absolutely, and on the refusal to obey God’s law. In Islam, when there is a disagreement or a difference of opinion, one refers to God, his Prophet, and the commands of sharia.

Ayman al-Zawahiri
Al Qaeda leader

Read more

State Dept.: Hezbollah, Islamic State Maintain Presence in Latin America

Getty Images

Getty Images

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, June 6, 2016:

WASHINGTON, D.C. —The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has determined that Venezuela, which has refused to cooperate with the United States’ antiterrorism efforts in Latin America for nearly a decade, remains a “permissive environment” that promotes ideological and financial support for terrorist organizations, namely Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah.

Although the “primary threats” to the Western Hemisphere stem from left-wing guerrillas known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), the Islamic extremist groups Shiite Hezbollah, also spelled Hizballah, and Sunni Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) also maintain a presence across the region, according to DOS’ Country Reports on Terrorism 2015, a congressionally mandated assessment of terrorism activities across the world authored by DOS.

The assessment declares:

South America and the Caribbean also served as areas of financial and ideological support for ISIL and other terrorist groups in the Middle East and South Asia. In addition, Hizballah continued to maintain a presence in the region, with members, facilitators, and supporters engaging in activity in support of the organization. This included efforts to build Hizballah’s infrastructure in South America and fundraising, both through licit and illicit means.

[…]

There were credible reports that Venezuela maintained a permissive environment that allowed for support of activities that benefited known terrorist groups… [including] Hizballah supporters and sympathizers.

Moreover, the DOS evaluation highlights the Tri-Border Area (TBA) between Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina, in addition to Peru, as regions where Hezbollah was operating last year.

“Illicit activities within the TBA remained potential funding sources for terrorist organizations, most notably Hizballah,” it says, adding, “The Tri-Border Areas of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay remained an important regional nexus of arms, narcotics, pirated goods, human smuggling, counterfeiting, and money laundering — all potential funding sources for terrorist organizations.”

The TBA border region has long been a hotbed for Hezbollah members.

In its terrorism reports, the DOS also points out that Peruvian authorities in 2014 arrested a Lebanese national and his wife, a U.S-Peruvian citizen, for suspected links to Hezbollah, adding that “there were residue and traces of explosives” in their apartment.

Hezbollah, along with other terrorists and criminals in Latin America, are known to use networks that support illicit activities, such as trafficking drugs, wildlife, bulk cash, weapons, humans, in addition to illegal logging and mining.

The DOS released its assessment Thursday, a day after the U.S. military declared the region’s illicit trafficking networks as one of the greatest security threats facing the United States.

Gen. John Kelly – former commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which oversees military activities in Latin America and the Caribbean – warned last year that jihadist groups like ISIS could exploit the illicit networks in the region to infiltrate the United States, adding that Hezbollah is already using known routes to traffic drugs and other contraband.

Although Hezbollah is believed to be the most prominent jihadist group in Latin America and the Caribbean due to Iran’s enduring presence in the region, Gen. Kelly warned in March 2015 that a small number of Sunni extremists are actively “radicalizing  converts and other Muslims in the region and also provide financial and logistical support to designated terrorist organizations within and outside Latin America.”

Pentagon and DOS have recently revealed that between 100 and 150 people from Latin America and the Caribbean have traveled to the Middle East to engage in jihad on behalf of ISIS, without specifying the names of any of the countries in the region.

According to the Department of State, some people from Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Argentina, are believed to have joined ISIS in the Middle East.

“More than 70 nationals of Trinidad and Tobago are believed be fighting with ISIL in Syria,” reports DOS, adding, “It is possible small numbers of Argentine citizens may have sought to travel to Syria and Iraq to join ISIL,” without providing any specific figures.

DOS also mentioned an ISIS-related arrest in Brazil involving a money laundering group accused of moving $10 million-plus and having social media ties to the jihadist group.

Iran’s growing presence in Latin America is believed to be facilitated by Venezuela.

Read more

Terror Threat Crosses Southern Border

Moslems-On-Mexican-Border

By CounterJihad, June 3, 2016:

“Radicalization is occurring,” said Admiral Kurt Tidd, addressing the question of whether Islamic infiltration along the southern border is a threat.  “We just have to recognize that this theater is a very attractive target and is an attractive pathway that we have to pay attention to.”

Tidd, who took over US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) at the beginning of the year, said the Islamic State (ISIS) has between 100 and 150 recruits originally from Latin America.  A “number” have attempted to return to the region, which should be relatively easy given their access to proper passports and their native capability with the language and culture.

“It’s the extremist Islamist movement, and that very corrosive engagement that you’re seeing on the internet that they’ve demonstrated an effectiveness in,” ADM Tidd explained of the perhaps surprising recruitment success by ISIS in a majority-Catholic region.  Here at CounterJihad we have reported on a similar success by ISIS in recruiting from Catholic-majority Ireland.  However surprising, it is the case that Ireland has supplied more fighters to ISIS than the whole of India in spite of its vastly larger Muslim population.

ADM Tidd’s assessment comes as Congress has been informed of a successful infiltration by a Taliban agent along the Mexican border.  The Afghan national was in US databases as having terror ties, but somehow was not flagged by American immigration police.  Instead, his ‘expedited removal’ notice was overturned and he was allowed to apply for asylum and welfare benefits.  Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., revealed the matter to Congress based on Homeland Security documents he obtained through proper channels.  Hunter told Fox News on Friday that the database disconnect represents a “monumental failure,” and that others will have gotten through if this one did.

In addition to Sunni jihadists, ties between Hezbollah and the region’s drug cartels are an ongoing concern.  Iran’s control of the opium trade from Afghanistan allows the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps to provide Hezbollah with opium as part of its fundraising operations.  Hezbollah converts the opium into heroin in its bases throughout the Levant.  Being a major supplier of the world’s heroin has allowed the terrorist group the leverage to establish good relations with Latin American cartels.  As a consequence, smuggling lines for bringing drugs into the Americas are open to Hezbollah.  Bringing terrorists through those same pipelines is not a big stretch.

ISIS, which also has a sizable heroin operation, could follow a similar path.  That would only deepen ADM Tidd’s troubles.

***

Tunnel Warfare

Published on Jun 1, 2016 by theunitedwest

SHOCKING REPORT BY CAPT. DAN GORDON
Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testified on Capitol Hill in May of 2016 ISIS, “will probably attempt to conduct additional attacks in Europe, and attempt to direct attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016.” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated, “ISIS leaders are determined to strike the homeland.” In a shocking new book by Dan Gordon, a Major Hollywood Award winning playwright and veteran of several military encounters with terrorists, he details how such an attack will occur. “They will use Mexican Drugs tunnels from Tijuana and the attack will most likely occur in San Diego, Ca.,” Gordon recently told Tom Trento Director of TheUnitedWest.org a counter-intelligence expert based in Florida. “San Diego is a target rich environment and federal authorities, local law enforcement and the military will be unable and ill-equipped to respond in the timely fashion to prevent a mass casualty attack from ISIS,” Gordon stated. GET THIS BOOK NOW!! https://www.amazon.com/Day-Dead-Book-…

***

Published on Jun 3, 2016 by Stefan Molyneux

Download the Pamphlet: http://www.fdrurl.com/MexicoPamphlet
An incredibly shocking glimpse at information provided by the Secretary of Foreign Relations in Mexico. Once again, Donald Trump was right – Mexico is sending people to the United States illegally and providing it’s citizens “how to” pamphlets to aid them in the task.

Also see:

Putting Hezbollah ‘out of business’

Illustration on the effects of cutting hezbollah funding on its operations by Alexandwer Hunter/The Washington Times

Illustration on the effects of cutting hezbollah funding on its operations by Alexandwer Hunter/The Washington Times

The Washington Times, by Jonathan Schanzer, May 31, 2016:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“After many years of sanctions targeting Hezbollah, today the group is in its worst financial shape in decades,” stated Adam Szubin, the acting Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence before a congressional hearing last week. “And I can assure you that, alongside our international partners, we are working hard to put them out of business.”

Mr. Szubin may be correct that sanctions are taking a bite out of Hezbollah’s finances. Congress enacted legislation in 2015 — the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act — which hammers banks that knowingly do business with Hezbollah. This has led to a purge in Lebanon’s banking system; banks are dumping Hezbollah accounts. At least, those that wish to remain plugged into the international financial system are doing so. One reports suggests that as many as 10,000 accounts have been closed.

And now Mr. Szubin’s lieutenant, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Danny Glaser, is pressing further. He was in Lebanon last week, where he gave a list of nearly 100 names of Hezbollah financial targets to the Central Bank governor, who vowed to take action against them. The targets range from Hezbollah media outlets to political figures and fighters.

Hezbollah’s heavy reliance on Lebanon’s banks presents a hugely important opportunity to weaken the group’s finances. But nobody is putting Hezbollah “out of business” anytime soon. Hezbollah is a wholly owned subsidiary of Iran. And Iran just negotiated a massive windfall of $100 billion pursuant to last summer’s nuclear deal. For Iran, Hezbollah is too big to fail.

Even the Lebanese government is prepared to keep Hezbollah’s politicians in the black. Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that the Lebanese Treasury started paying the salaries of government ministers belonging to Hezbollah in cash in order to evade U.S. sanctions.

But money aside, let’s not forget that even though Hezbollah maintains a vast illicit financial empire, its business is terrorism. And right now, even as the group’s military capabilities have never been stronger.

Read more

Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is vice president for research at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Report: German Refugee Program Money Given to Hizballah Operatives

Sryian Refugees in Berlin. (photo credit:URIEL HEILMAN/ JTA)

Sryian Refugees in Berlin. (photo credit:URIEL HEILMAN/ JTA)

by IPT News  •  Apr 20, 2016

Hizballah activists continue to operate freely in Germany and serve as senior employees of a German government-funded theater project intended to aid refugees in the country, according to the Berliner Zeitung daily and reported by the Jerusalem Post.

Two directors of the Refugee Club Impulse (RCI), sisters Nadia and Maryam Grassman, were central organizers of the annual pro-Iran/pro-Hizballah al-Quds Day rally in 2015 featuring “anti-Semitic slogans” and calls for “the abolition of Israel.”

Video and photographic evidence showed Nadia chanting on a loudspeaker while Maryam disseminated fliers and posters and collected donations during the anti-Semitic rally. It is uncertain whether the donations were intended to fund Hizballah’s terrorist operations in Syria and against Israel.

The RCI is expected to receive €100,000 ($113,260 USD) from the German government for the refugee project. Public taxpayer money has been transferred to the organization for several years.

There are roughly 250 active Hizballah operatives in Berlin and a total of 950 Hizballah members throughout Germany, according to a 2014 Berlin intelligence reportsummarized by the Jerusalem Post. Though the number of Hizballah supporters is believed to be far higher in Germany than listed in the report.

Radical Islamists are “the greatest danger to Germany…Germany is on the spectrum of goals for Islamic terrorists,” said Hans-Georg Maassen, president of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV).

In 2014, Germany closed down the Lebanon Orphan Children Project for providing money to the al-Shahid (“The Martyr”) Association in Lebanon. Al-Shahid was “disguised as a humanitarian organization” and “promotes violence and terrorism in the Middle East using donations collected in Germany and elsewhere,” German security expert Alexander Ritzmann said in a 2009 European Foundation for Democracy report.

While the European Union, including Germany, designated Hizballah’s military wing as a terrorist entity, Germany allows Hizballah’s political wing to operate freely in the country. The U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands designate Hizballah as a terrorist organization entirely. Even senior Hizballah officials have noted the futility in distinguishing between its political and military wings, acknowledging that Hizballah is a hierarchical and bureaucratic organization with a clear chain of command. Therefore the organization’s terrorist and military wings answer to its senior leadership and political echelons, including its main benefactor – Iran.

Hezbollah Brigades vows to attack US forces ‘defending ISIS’ in Iraq

Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah wave Hezbollah and Lebanese flags in south Lebanon. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Supporters of Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah wave Hezbollah and Lebanese flags in south Lebanon. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Jerusalem Post, by Maayan Groisman, March 21, 2016:

Hezbollah Brigades fighters in Iraq have threatened to attack the American soldiers stationed in the country, following the decision by the US army to send reinforcements to Iraq to support the international coalition in its fights against ISIS.

In a statement released Sunday, the Iranian-backed organization active in Iraq and in the Syrian civil war, claimed: “the United States increasingly intervenes in Iraq’s issues with its presence in the Iraqi joint operations command.”

While the US army says it is sending reinforcements to Iraq to help the international coalition vanquish ISIS, Hezbollah Brigades’ statement claimed the opposite.

“ISIS, the stepdaughter of the Americans, is taking its last breaths, so the Americans dispatched their ground troops to protect the “clinically dead” body of ISIS,” Hezbollah Brigades’ statement read.

“We have vanquished the American occupation with our quality and quantity in the past and we will continue attacking them, with our resources significantly increased. Iraq’s streets are still filled with the ruins of their vehicles that destroyed our explosive devices, and those injured by their soldiers are still hospitalized.

“The occupation’s coward soldiers should understand that however protective their vehicles are, these vehicles will become an obstacle for them and they will burn to death inside them,” the statement read.

Hezbollah Brigades, known in Arabic as Kata’ib Hezbollah, is not directly affiliated to the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah. However, according to American forces, the group received training and logistical aid from the Iranian Quds force as well as from Lebanese Hezbollah.

Hezbollah Brigades’ statement comes shortly after Colonel Steve Warren, the Spokesman of the US military operation against ISIS, announced Sunday that a group of Marines will reinforce the existing force in Iraq to support the international coalition’s efforts against ISIS.

On Saturday, an American Marine troop who served at a coalition fire base near Makhmur in northern Iraq was killed after the base came under ISIS rocket fire. Several other Marines were wounded in this ISIS attack.

***

CPAC 2016—Countering the Global Jihad Panel Exposes Islamist Influence Operations

timthumb

AIM, by James Simpson  —   March 18, 2016
On assignment to CPAC 2016 for Capital Research Center
This report is exclusive to Accuracy in Media

After a number of years of noted absence, the Center for Security Policy returned to CPAC this year. On Thursday, March 3, the Center presented a “Countering Global Jihad” panel. The panel was moderated by CSP President, Frank Gaffney, and included CSP Vice President Jim Hanson; Danish historian, journalist and author, Lars Hedegaard; British activist and politician, Paul Weston; four-star Admiral James “Ace” Lyons, Jr. (Ret.); and Middle East expert and former CIA case officer, Clare Lopez.

Jim Hanson

CSP VP Jim Hanson outlined a new CSP initiative, the Counterjihad Campaign (www.counterjihad.com). Its purpose is to provide Americans with the facts and the wherewithal to push back in the face of the Red-Green Axis: the leftist/Islamist effort to smear and intimidate Americans who dare to stand up to them.

Hanson related his experience as a second generation immigrant whose family believes in the American values of hard work and patriotism. His family immigrated legally, and enthusiastically assimilated to pursue the American dream. Hanson says that today, “The problem is that we are dealing with a large cohort [of Muslims] who do not, and will not [assimilate]… They’re proudly saying ‘not only will we not assimilate, but we are going to, in some ways, take over your culture.’”

Hanson took a special shot at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). SPLC put CSP on its “Hate Watch” list, calling CSP leaders the standard “Islamophobe” for their excellent work cataloging the subversive activities of Islamist individuals and groups. I have written extensively about the SPLC, its communist heritage and calculated “hate” accusations—as advocated by Lenin, Herbert Marcuse and Saul Alinsky—designed to intimidate and silence people. This is a malevolent organization created for the sole purpose of silencing anyone who does not buckle under to the left’s agenda—and makes big bucks while they’re at it. But Hanson put SPLC in its place:

“The bottom line is, it’s not true…When I was in Army Special Forces, one of the main missions was humanitarian assistance. I have built schools, dug wells, immunized hundreds of Muslim kids. And yet I’m anti-Muslim? No…”

It’s not ‘hate’ to love freedom. It’s not ‘hate” to believe that women should not be subjugated… It’s not hate to think that homosexuals shouldn’t be thrown off roofs. It’s love of freedom… That’s something we should be able to stand up proudly and say. That’s American. The people trying to stop that are the political Left—the politically correct police—and the Islamist groups…who are actually pushing an agenda that is not religion. They are doing it under the guise of religious freedom. They believe their totalitarian ideology [Sharia] is mandatory. You can either submit or be conquered. The Counterjihad is for you…to tell you what’s happening and empower you to act.”

Lars Hedegaard

Danish historian, journalist and author, Lars Hedegaard, talked about the ongoing mass migrant invasion into Europe. His was a gripping and engaging testimony:

The vast majority have nothing to do with being refugees, they are simply migrants who want to come to our countries and take advantage of our welfare states…in Denmark, where I come from, people don’t have to work. They can come into our country and claim any benefit that a Dane can claim—meaning free housing, free health service, free education, money if you don’t have any…They can also claim the protection of our laws and any of the benefits that accrue to us. And we have to pay for it…Every dime we can save goes to these foreigners, who come uninvited, and claim all the benefits from day one. And this is just one example. The same thing goes for Britain, Sweden, Germany and other countries.

Hedegaard identifies the Schengen Agreement as a main cause of the problem. This agreement, signed in 1995, allows for free, unchecked travel among most European Union countries. Great Britain, Ireland, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are excepted. Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria are candidate countries (although they’d be wise to reconsider the wisdom of joining now). The European Union was supposed to ensure that the EU’s outer borders would seal off EU countries from the outside. But, Hedegaard says, “The European Union, which is a master con artist, did not keep its part of the promise. The outer borders do not exist. Currently anyone can get into Europe…”

Paul Weston

Paul Weston is a former UK Independent Party member and leads Liberty Great Britain, a political party he co-founded in 2013. Weston also spoke about the migrant crisis in Europe. He says Britain is not yet lost, but will be gone in 20 years or so. Sweden is “literally a lost country,” with perhaps five or ten years left. He says:

Malmo, Sweden is now the rape capital of the European continent. Aside from South Africa, I think it’s the rape capital of the world. It is that bad. So we look to Sweden in the way that you need to look to us. And we had, over the last 12 months, 12 mass transit bombings planned for England that our intelligence services, MI5, MI6, managed to stop…and despite this, we keep on saying, ‘you can come into our country…and we have no idea who these people are…

Weston noted how British political leaders refused to acknowledge the terrorist attacks in Britain as motivated by Islam. He said, “This denial of what Islam is, is going to be the downfall of Europe.” He finished dramatically, by saying that we Americans desperately need to retain our First Amendment rights, despite Obama’s efforts to clamp down. “Because unless we can talk about this, unless we can bring it out into the open, you in America will go the same way. You need to stand up and look at what we’re doing and say ‘this is never going to happen here.’”

Admiral James “Ace” Lyons

“Ace” Lyons is President and CEO of LION Associates LLC, a global security, trade, defense and procurement consultancy. A career naval officer, Lyons was, among other titles, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the largest military command in the world. He also served as Senior U.S. Military Representative to the United Nations. As the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) from 1983 to 1985, he advised the Joint Chiefs of Staff and created the U.S. Navy SEAL Red Cell anti-terrorism unit, established in response to the Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut. Lyons’ irascible nature, irreverent sense of humor, and forthright, politically incorrect manner endear him to audiences wherever he speaks. This day was no exception.

Marine Barracks Bombing Betrayal

Lyons reveals military history with the unique perspective of being part of that history. For example, he was Deputy CNO when the Beirut, Lebanon Marine barracks was bombed on October 23, 1983. 220 U.S. Marines were killed—the largest one-day Marine loss since Iwo Jima. Twenty-one other servicemen were killed and 60 Americans wounded. The pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) bomb caused a blast equivalent to 21,000 lbs of TNT, and was considered to be the largest non-nuclear explosion ever detonated. Seconds after the Marine barracks attack, another facility housing French paratroopers was also bombed, killing 58 paratroopers and four Lebanese civilians.

As Ace explained, the bombings were carried out by Islamic Amal, a Hezbollah-allied splinter group of the Amal militia headed by Nabih Berri. They were headquartered in a Lebanese army barracks captured in mid-September with the help of Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces. Lyons says the U.S. government knew all this, and had inside sources providing accurate intelligence. Admiral Lyons was tasked with developing a devastating response. “We had the photographs.  We had it nailed down. We had the planes loaded…” he said.

He fingers then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger for stopping the raid. According to Lyons, Weinberger told Reagan there was a risk of hitting Lebanese forces. “In other words,” Lyons says, “he sabotaged the strike.” Weinberger also prevented the U.S. military from participating with the French in their planned retaliatory attack in November. As Lyons recalls, “The secretary of defense would not issue the execute order! Unheard of!” He said that George Shultz and National Security Advisor Bud McFarlane “pleaded with Weinberger to release the execute message, and he refused to do it.”

Middle East expert Ken Timmerman, who was reached for comment on this article, recalled the French raid. “I was having a late lunch in the mountains, on my way back to Beirut after another day of covering the siege of Tripoli (Lebanon) in November, 1983, when the French Super Étendards flew overhead for Baalbek on the botched retaliation strike. I recognized the planes, and remember thinking at the time, wonder what they are up to…”

Lyons says to an echo of laughs, “the French dropped two 500 lb bombs and killed a goat.” One assumes he is joking to make a point, but in fact not. According to Timmerman, someone in the French government leaked the attack plan to the Iranians. The planes arrived at Baalbek, dropped their bombs and managed to kill a shepherd and his flock of goats. The targets were long gone.

Apparently the government also had warnings a month earlier that a major attack was in the works, and the military could have been prepared. Lyons relates that NSA had intercepted a message from Tehran to the Iranian ambassador in Damascus, Syria, on September 24, 1983, saying “take a spectacular action against the U.S. Marines.” However, Lyons did not see message until two days after the bombing.

Timmerman says the note was held up by none other than Colin Powell, at the time Weinberger’s military aide. Powell most likely kept it from the DoD chief, Timmerman says, because he believed a strike on Baalbek risked getting the U.S. sucked deeper into Lebanon, at a time Weinberger was lobbying hard to get the U.S. to withdraw from Lebanon. For his part, Weinberger claimed as late as 2001 that “[W]e still do not have the actual knowledge of who did the bombing…” In 2003, the DC Circuit Court sided with plaintiffs in a lawsuit holding Iran responsible for the attack. But in case you had any lingering doubts about Obama’s loyalties, in 2012 he blocked legislation that would have held Iran accountable for the attack.

Lyons hypothesized that the Iranians may have influenced Weinberger’s decision through behind-the-scenes lobbying. While that must remain conjecture, the Iran lobby is forthright these days. In fact, the Obama administration could almost be called a subsidiary of the Iranian government. Recall that prior to the 2008 election Obama had established a secret back-channel communication with Iran through former ambassador William G. Miller. His message was clear: “hold out against the Bush administration on nuclear talks because you will get a much better deal with me.”

Both Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden appear to have been heavily influenced by the Iranian lobby, as have Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Al Franken (D-MN) through the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC). Biden and Kerry have also been befriended by the American Iranian Council (AIC) and theIranian Muslim Association of North America (IMAN). AIC founder, Housang Amirahmadi, once said he intended to “conquer Obama’s mind.” Biden even suggested sending $200 million to Iran, just for yucks. The nuclear deal includes unfreezing Iranian assets valued between $100 and $150 billion, and the Obama administration will pay $1.7 billion to settle a suit over undelivered military equipment ordered by the Shah prior to the Mullahs’ takeover. Some of these funds will likely be used for terrorist activities, Kerry has admitted.

The bombing remains an open sore for the U.S. Marine Corps, as it should for all Americans. As Timmerman said, “This was a lost opportunity. At the time, a powerful strike on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard troops in Lebanon would have taught Iran not to mess with the United States. Had we struck then, when Iran was severely weakened by its war with Iraq, we might have prevented 30 more years of Iranian state terrorism. As it was, they learned we were weak, and that they could attack us with impunity.”

Ken Timmerman is a rare example of true journalism. He has risked life and limb researching his stories in the Middle East and has developed a network of sources that cannot be made sitting behind a desk in Washington, D.C. Timmerman’s books read like thrillers. His most recent, Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi, brings his deep Middle East expertise into play and is one of the most authoritative books, if not the most authoritative, on the subject.

In his concluding remarks, Lyons offered some pithy reflections on our current state of affairs:

  •  “Their [The Muslim Brotherhood’s] penetration into our systems is as deep, or deeper, than the Communists of the 30s, 40s and 50s.”
  • “The Communists had Harry Hopkins as their man in the White House… The Islamists have President Obama.”
  • “On Libya, we changed sides… we provided the armament for the al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood militias.”
  •  “Qaddafi was our guy in Libya. He was beating down the al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood militias.”
  • “There was no humanitarian crisis in Benghazi. (The pretext for our involvement in Libya’s civil war was the Responsibility to Protect doctrine—a new idea promoted by George Soros and other radicals that justifies military intervention in any conflict where civilian lives are threatened, i.e. practically anywhere.)
  • “Qaddafi was ready to abdicate. He entered into negotiations with Carter Ham the AFRICOM commander… for two days. He was ready to go… Ham was directed to cut off negotiations.”
  • “Here’s the President who received the Nobel Peace Prize for giving a speech. But he couldn’t give three days to work out a truce and save the lives of tens of thousands of people.”
  • “We had forces that were ready to respond [in Benghazi]… They were enroute…”

Clare Lopez

Clare Lopez is a preeminent Middle East expert. A former CIA case officer for 20 years, she speaks several languages, including Spanish, Bulgarian, French, German, and Russian, and currently is studying Farsi. She has extensive expertise in counterintelligence, counternarcotics, and counter-proliferation issues. Clare used this forum to call for a change in policy that would explicitly identify Sharia as an “enemy threat doctrine, with the priority objective to counter it and defeat the forces of Islamic jihad globally.”

Clare backed up Lyons’ testimony regarding Iranian lobbying efforts, saying:

“Within the global jihad movement threats are myriad, including the deep, systemic, institutionalized penetration by the Muslim Brotherhood…of our national security leadership and apparatus. But Iran is far and away the most critical, dangerous and immediate U.S. adversary in this entire region. The Tehran leadership succeeded in blinding our U.S. leadership to its threat, by an equally deep…penetration of the intelligence community, the White House, the Department of State, and that is by the Iran lobby.”

Clare covered a lot of ground in her remarks. Here are some of the points she made:

  • Iran’s WMD program, especially its nuclear and Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) programs pose an immediate threat to the U.S. mainland, “right now, today.”
  • Iran’s behavior has gotten worse since the nuclear dear was concluded—a deal which was never signed.
  • Iran relies on proxy forces for its expansion of power and terrorism, including: Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iraqi Shi’ite militias, the Islamic State and the Taliban.
  • Many of these proxies will be receiving “massive” infusions of the money released by Obama following the nuclear deal.
  • Money is also being sent to both the Houthis in Yemen and the Assad regime in Syria.
  • A letter written by Osama bin Laden and seized during the raid on his Pakistani compound, was released recently. It says, “Iran is our main artery for funds, personnel and communication.”
  • Hamas is working very closely with the Islamic State in the Sinai.

Clare concluded with a call for regime change in Iran and a sea change in U.S. policy. Good ideas that should be considered once President Obama leaves office. There is much more in her presentation.

Conclusion

It was good to see CSP back at CPAC. CSP is one of the few DC organizations willing to confront head-on the difficult subject of Islamist infiltration in the U.S. The Muslim Brotherhood and its sister organizations have pretty well figured out the DC racket and their tentacles have become deeply entrenched in the Washington establishment of both parties. Thus, ironically, CSP is criticized by the establishment when it should be welcomed by them. This is a travesty, because the MB’s goal, aggressively pursued by front groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), is transforming our schools and our government, blinding us to the dangers of Islamic radicalism, creating fertile ground for terrorist attacks in the U.S. and threatening our cherished rights—most immediately the First Amendment.

James Simpson is an economist, businessman and investigative journalist. His articles have been published at American Thinker, Accuracy in MediaBreitbart, PJ Media, Washington Times, WorldNetDaily and others. His regular column is DC Independent Examiner. Follow Jim on TwitterFacebook

Missiles from Iran-Allied Territory Intercepted On Way to US

hellfire1

Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, March 13, 2016

This is an interesting, but still very much a developing story.

 Serbia’s authorities are investigating reports that a cargo package bound for the U.S. containing two missiles with explosive warheads was found on a passenger flight from Lebanon to Serbia.

N1 television said the package with two guided armor-piercing missiles was discovered Saturday by a sniffer dog after an Air Serbia flight from Beirut landed at Belgrade airport.

Serbian media say documents listed the final destination for the AGM-114 Hellfire missiles as Portland, Oregon.

The Lebanon origin is what makes this story somewhat different because the country is currently dominated by Iran and its Shiite terrorist allies. So if this was a terrorist plot, which we don’t know that it was, it appears likelier to have originated from Iran than from ISIS. Portland however was the site of a more conventional Sunni Islamic terror plot. But Shiites also have a presence there.

Another twist was the recently “misplaced” Hellfire that ended up in Cuba.

But where would Iran have gotten hellfire missiles? Like most of the US equipment in the hands of Shiite terrorists, Iraq. The US has sold plenty of hellfires to Iraq. And Iraq’s government and military these days is controlled by Iran’s Shiite puppets.

***

All Men in Iran Village Executed

Iran flag of deathCounter Jihad, Feb. 26, 2016:

A member of the Iranian cabinet says that his government has executed every man in one of the country’s villages. The Daily Beast reports:

, an official responsible for the Islamic Republic’s division of women and family affairs, said violence could explode in the undisclosed area of the Sistan and Baluchestan province as a response to the executions. “The children of the executed criminals are also already drug traffickers,” she said. “They want to avenge the deaths of their fathers.” The total number of men killed has not been released.

The Iranian regime’s use of its sharia-inspired drug laws to execute regime opponents is infamous.  Yet the Praetorian guard of the Islamic Republic, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, is actually the major figure in the narcotics trade both in Iran and in the region.  The IRGC controls the majority of the flow of opium from Afghanistan into the Levant and the Middle East generally.  Illegal activities are a major source of the IRGC’s operating budget, of which narcotics are only one.

Drug trafficking is another major area of the underground economy that the IRGC controls. Iran’s long border with Pakistan and Afghanistan is one of the the world’s busiest drug smuggling corridors.  Iran’s interior minister recently declared that the value of narcotic  drug sales in Iran is $3 billion per year, not including commission from transporting the drugs from Afghanistan to other transit points, like the Balkans. The US Department of the Treasury has placed Quds Force Commander Esmail Baghbani on the US sanctions list for his role in drug trafficking. The IRGC also has close ties with the drug cartels in the South and Central America through Hezbollah.

As the report notes, the IRGC’s control of the opium flow has allowed the terrorist group Hezbollah to infiltrate Latin American drug cartels by providing cheap heroin.  One of Iran’s oldest and most successful proxy forces, Hezbollah has managed connections with both governments and drug cartels in Latin America.  Hezbollah’s access to the IRGC’s opium stream has made its heroin operations in Lebanon chief among its many fundraising schemes.  US prosecutors in 2011 named Hezbollah as a major participant in money laundering operations between the Middle East, America, and West Africa as a result of the heroin trade.  During the civil war in Lebanon of the 1980s, Lebanese migrants to South America became a bridgehead for Hezbollah into that continent.  Hezbollah’s access to hashish, and its capacity to create and ship heroin, allowed it to build important supply relationships to the drug cartels it found in South America.  This allowed Hezbollah access to other drugs coming from South America, broadening its capacity to raise money off the drug trade.  Cash and drug smuggling operations between Hezbollah and Latin America have been recently tied to Nicaragua, Panama (on multiple fronts), Venezuela, CubaEcuador, and Argentina.

The drug trade is thus a key part of Iran’s attempt to export jihad and its own Islamic revolution.  Yet with the next breath, “drug trafficking” is used to justify genocidal acts against its own ethnic minorities.

Also see: