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.”

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

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

hezbollahcubaJudicial Watch, Feb. 16, 2016:

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

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

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

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

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

Iran Rising: Tehran Using Hezbollah in Latin American ‘Cultural Centers’ To Infiltrate West

AP Photo/Iranian Presidency Office, Mohammad Berno

AP Photo/Iranian Presidency Office, Mohammad Berno

Breitbart, by JORDAN SCHACHTEL AND EDWIN MORA,  May 27, 2015:

The rapidly growing number of Shiite cultural centers in Latin America have provided the Islamic Republic of Iran with a means to expand its covert recruitment operations throughout the western hemisphere, leading military officials and experts to provide Breitbart News with statements that directly contradict the Obama administration’s narrative that Iran’s influence in the region is “waning.”

Breitbart News interviewed military and intelligence officials, policy experts, members of Congress, and a former White House official for this report, all of whom warned about the threat posed by Iran’s continuing encroachment into Latin America.

Iran is infiltrating Latin America thanks largely to Hezbollah, a Shiite terrorist group that has sworn loyalty to Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, showing overt preference to the Tehran dictator over its host-state Lebanon. Hezbollah, along with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have provided the on-the-ground support needed for the proliferation of Iran’s Khomeinist ideology.

Breitbart News’ sources have unanimously refuted the assessment of Obama’s State Department, which has claimed that “Iranian influence in Latin America and the Caribbean is waning.”

A U.S. military official told Breitbart News that the estimated 80-plus Shiite cultural centers backed by Iran are continuously multiplying, and are currently being operated by Hezbollah and Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards-Quds Force.

Hezbollah provides operational and logistical support “for Iran’s covert activities in the region to include coordination and collaboration with Lebanese [Hezbollah’s] external operations arm the Islamic Jihad Organization” through Shiite Islamic centers dubbed “cultural centers,” the official told Breitbart News, contradicting the narrative put forth by the State Department.

Such centers can be found throughout Latin America, according to the official.

“Iranian cultural centers open possibilities for Iran to introduce members of its Revolutionary Guard-Qods Forces (IRGC-QF) to a pool of potential recruits within the centers population of Lebanese Shi’a Muslims and local converts to Shia Islam,” added the defense official.

David Shedd, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), echoed the U.S. military officials comments, telling Breitbart News via email that “the cultural centers may be used as platforms for truly nefarious purposes by the Iranian regime.”

“Iran has expanded its ‘cultural centers’ presence in locations such as Quito [in Peru] and Caracas [in Venezuela] where there is a strong anti-US government sentiment,” Shedd, currently a visiting distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told Breitbart News.

“Iran’s overall expanded presence in the Western Hemisphere is troubling,” the former DIA director added. “The expanded presence in any capacity in the Latin American region should give the U.S. pause given the profound differences between U.S. values and those of a regime in Tehran that supports terrorism as an officially sanctioned tool of national power.”

Shedd warned that Hezbollah, which he described as the most prominent global terrorist group in Latin America, likely has “sleeper cells” in various countries in the Western Hemisphere.

“Hezbollah sympathizers also appear to have a presence in the tri-border area of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil where they are involved in black market commercial activities,” he noted.

The Tri-Border region in South America includes Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. According to the Treasury Department, the Galeria Page shopping mall in Paraguay– at the heart of the tri-border– serves as central headquarters and a fundraising source for Hezbollah members in the region.

Members of Congress have also sounded the alarm about Tehran’s growing influence in Latin America.

Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), a member of the House Armed Services, said that Iran’s presence was evident when he visited Quito, Ecuador. The congressman described it as a place where anti-American sentiment is strong and jihadist figures appear next to Latin American heroes.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Subcommittee, has been warning against the presence and activity of Iran and its ally Hezbollah in Latin America, holding multiple congressional hearings on the issue, visiting the region, and sponsoring legislation — the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012.

Chairman Duncan told Breitbart News that Iran and its proxy Hezbollah “use many tools to deepen their influence in the region, including diplomatic missions and cultural centers; ties with terrorist organizations and criminal groups; training Latin American youth in Tehran; and exploiting loose border security policies and free trade zones to smuggle contraband.”

Rep. Duncan accused the Obama administration of not paying enough attention to the Iranian threat in Latin America, saying during a March 18 congressional hearing, “I believe this negligence is misguided and dangerous.”

Duncan is not the only one who disagrees with how the Obama administration is dealing the presence of Iran in the Western Hemisphere.

Bud McFarlane, who served as National Security Advisor for President Ronald Reagan, told Breitbart News that Iran continues to expand its influence operations throughout the region, tailoring its message to the Spanish-speaking world. He explained:

Iran’s existing network of agents in place, including members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), function through Iranian cultural centers where they seek to recruit candidates for conversion to Shia Islam and carry out other clandestine, subversive activities.  They also carry out what amounts to a form of brainwashing by encouraging teenagers to access Islamoriente.com, which features links to Iranian television for Spanish speakers, anti-American propaganda, essays on reasons to convert to Islam, chat rooms and a personal message from the supreme leader of Iran.

Iran’s propaganda and influence operations can be witnessed throughout the globe, not just in Latin America.

Dr. Michael Rubin, an Iran expert and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), told Breitbart News:

The Iranian use of Hezbullah and Lebanese expatriate populations is actually neither new nor limited to South America. In the aftermath of the 1992 ‘Mykonos Cafe’ assassinations in Berlin, German police captured both Iranian and Hezbollah operatives, the latter of which represented sleeper cells in Germany.

Rubin added that Hezbollah must not be seen as an independent actor, but as a tool of the Iranian regime. He explained:

Hezbollah is a proxy founded and controlled by Iran. Talk of Hezbollah as having evolved to become Lebanese nationalist first and foremost is nonsense. I’ve been in Hezbollah bunkers in southern Lebanon. Pictures are worth a thousand words, and it’s telling that Hezbollah terrorists bunk down under photos of Khomeini and Khamenei. Current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei remains Hezbollah’s religious source of emulation. Any notion that Hezbollah was anything other than an Qods Force proxy should have been put to rest in 2008, when they turned their guns on fellow Lebanese in the center of Beirut, or when they supporter the worst atrocities in Syria since 2011.

But even with the overwhelming evidence that Iran’s influence in Latin America is expanding exponentially, the Obama administration has thus far refused to recognize its deep penetration of the Western Hemisphere.

The State Department, which falls under the purview of the Obama White House, has recently stated that the “Iranian influence in Latin America and the Caribbean is waning.”

But it appears as if other executive branch agencies are sending conflicting messages about Iran in Latin America.

In October 2014, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which serves as the investigative arm of Congress, noted a discrepancy in the assessments provided by the agencies.

Although the State Department claims that key government agencies — including the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice — agree with its position, the GAO revealed that U.S. Southern Command (Southcom), which oversees most of Latin America and the Caribbean, does not agree that Iran’s influence is “waning.”

Dead Argentine prosecutor was zeroing in on a terror threat to the entire Western Hemisphere

Alberto Nisman

Alberto Nisman

Business Insider, by LINETTE LOPEZ, March 20, 2015:

Iran and its proxies are well positioned in several Middle Eastern countries.

As days go by, the mystery surrounding the death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman – who was found shot in the head in his locked apartment two months ago – becomes murkier.

But we’re learning a lot more about the explosive findings of his decade-long investigation.

Testimony from journalists and government officials suggest that in addition to describing Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s hand in protecting the perpetrators of a 1994 Buenos Aires terrorist attack, Nisman was also working to blow the lid off the workings of Iran’s terrorist organization in Latin America.

Nisman’s decade of work on the subject pointed to Iran.

And according to the testimonies, it appears Nisman was working to blow the lid off the entire workings of Iran’s terrorist organization in Latin America.

‘Export Iran’s Islamic Revolution’

In a written statement on Wednesday, Brazilian investigative journalist Leonardo Coutinho walked members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs through the findings of his years of work looking into Iran’s penetration of Brazil.

In a statement titled “Brazil as an operational hub for Iran and Islamic Terrorism,” Coutinho discusses not only his findings while working for Brazil’s Veja magazine, but also Nisman’s tireless work.

“Official investigations carried out by Argentine, American, and Brazilian authorities have revealed how Brazil figures into the intricate network set up to ‘export Iran’s Islamic Revolution’ to the West, by both establishing legitimacy and regional support while simultaneously organizing and planning terrorist attacks,” Coutinho said (emphasis ours).

“Despite the fact that Brazil has never been the target of one of these terrorist attacks, the country plays the role of a safe haven for Islamic extremist groups, as explained below.”

He went on to note that Nisman’s 502-page dictum on the 1994 Buenos Aires terrorist attack “not only describes the operations of the network responsible for this terrorist attack, it also names those who carried it out. Consequently, the document lists twelve people in Brazil with ties to [Iran’s Lebanese proxy] Hezbollah, who reside or resided in Brazil. Seven of these operatives had either direct or indirect participation in the AMIA bombing.”

To put these astounding assertions into perspective, consider that Iranian military mastermind Qassem Suleimani recently said, “We are witnessing the export of the Islamic Revolution throughout the region. From Bahrain and Iraq to Syria, Yemen and North Africa.”

Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explains what Suleimani, head of the foreign arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, meant by this:

“When he talks about exporting the Islamic Revolution, Suleimani is referring to a very specific template.

“It’s the template that the Khomeinist revolutionaries first set up in Lebanon 36 years ago by cloning the various instruments that were burgeoning in Iran as the Islamic revolutionary regime consolidated its power.”

And now, according to reporting from Veja and Nisman, Iran and Hezbollah have been attempting the same in Latin America.

Nisman dug deep

Nisman had been working on Iran’s involvement in Latin America since 2005, when Nestor Kirchner, then Argentina’s president, asked him to investigate a 1994 terrorist attack on a Buenos Aires Jewish Center, AMIA. The attack killed 85 people.

Around the same time, according to reports, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013, had allegedly ensured that Iranian and Hezbollah agents were furnished with passports and flights that would allow them to move freely around South America and to Iran.

From there, it was a matter of fund-raising for Iran’s agents – co-opting drug cartels, and sometimes hiding in remote, lawless parts of Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, and other countries that lack the infrastructural, legal, and economic resources to root out Iran’s agents of terror.

“Iran and Hezbollah, two forces hostile to US interests, have made significant inroads in Peru, almost without detection, in part because of our weak institutions, prevalent criminal enterprise, and various stateless areas,” Peru’s former vice interior minister told Wednesday’s House hearing, noting that Peru was not hostile to the US. “These elements are particularly weak in the southern mountainous region of my country.”

AMIA bombing argentina

Remains of the AMIA after the 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Wikipedia

Nisman’s findings alleged that Hezbollah and top government officials in Iran orchestrated the AMIA attack. Nisman’s investigation was lauded by international parties – current President (and Nestor’s widow) Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has said so herself.

But things changed after Nestor left office in 2007. Argentina’s prolonged ostracization from international markets made it a cash-strapped nation, and the popularity of the Kirchners domestically waned below ecstatic.

That meant Fernandez would have to fight to hold on to power, and that fight would take money. According to Coutinho’s work, that’s when things changed. He interviewed three defected officials of Chavez’s regime who said they witnessed a conversation between the Venezuelan president and his then-Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in January 2007.

Ahmadinejad and Chavez reportedly planned to coerce Argentina into sharing nuclear technology with Iran – which Argentina had done in the 1980s and again in the early 1990s after the AMIA bombing – and stopping the hunt for the perpetrators of the AMIA bombing in exchange for cash, some of it to finance Fernandez’s political aims. It’s unclear whether Fernandez knew where this money was coming from, according to Coutinho.

In any case, The New York Times recently reported that intercepted conversations between Argentine and Iranian officials “point to a long pattern of secret negotiations to reach a deal in which Argentina would receive oil in exchange for shielding Iranian officials” from being formally accused of orchestrating the terror attack.

If genuine, The Times noted, the conversation transcripts show “a concerted effort by representatives of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government to shift suspicions away from Iran in order to gain access to Iranian markets and to ease Argentina’s energy troubles.”

Hugo Chavez, Nestor Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner with her husband, Nestor, right, and, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in Buenos Aires in 2007. Reuters

After that, analysts at the US-based think tank Strategy Center note that there was a significant shift in Argentina’s policy toward Iran:

Later in 2012, Ahmadinejad made a speech at the UN, and for the first time in years the Argentine delegation did not walk out. The Argentine administration eventually cast Nisman’s findings on AMIA, Iran, and Hezbollah aside.

AMIA suspects

Moshen Rabbani and another original suspect in the AMIA bombing, Ahmad Reza Ashgari, from a 2006 handout released by an Argentine court. Reuters

Through all of this, Nisman continued digging. He tried to track the network of Mohsen Rabbani, who he believed led Iran’s cell in Latin America and was an architect of the AMIA attack.

>Brazilian authorities tried and failed to arrest Rabbani, whose main contact in Brazil at the time of the attacks, according to Nisman, was a cleric named Taleb Hussein al-Khazraji.

And that connection shows how Iran’s “intricate network set up to ‘export Iran’s Islamic Revolution’ to the West” touched the United States.

Both al-Khazraji and Rabbani were in contact with Abdul Kadir, a former politician from the South American country of Guyana who is now serving a sentence of life in prison in the US for plotting to attack New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport in 2007.

The FBI said Kadir was caught trying to board a plane in Trinidad bound for Venezuela and eventually to Tehran.

Kadir was prosecuted, with some assistance from Nisman, by none other than US attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch.

U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch

US Attorney Loretta Lynch. Reuters

“The sentence imposed on Abdul Kadir sends a powerful and clear message,” Lynch said in a statement at the time. “We will bring to justice those who plot to attack the United States of America.”

All of this suggests Alberto Nisman was a marked man for years. But for years he managed to do extraordinary work uncovering Iran’s terrorist network in Latin America.

It’s no wonder that confusion about what happened, who did it, and why has taken over Argentina’s news cycle. Reports have little to say or do with Nisman’s part in fighting international terrorism in Latin America.

Michael B. Kelley contributed to this report.

Also see:

Experts: Iran Exerting Troubling Influence in Latin America

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

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

By :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Free Beacon

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

The Threat from Radiological Weapons

dirty bombACT! For America:

Two weeks ago, Mexican and US border security authorities were spooked when a truck carrying radioactive Cobalt-60 material used in medical procedures was stolen in Tepojaco, Mexico, just north of Mexico City. The truck was transporting the material from Tijuana, which is over 1,400 miles away.

The danger was that Cobalt-60 could be used in a radiological explosive device, sometimes called a “dirty bomb,” which is designed to spread radioactivity across an area by way of a conventional explosion.

At the time of the theft there were many questions being asked. Did the thieves know what they were taking? And if they did, what was their plan?

It could have been criminals looking to resell. But Al Qaeda has had at least one operative arrested on the Mexican border and Hezbollah is known to have a presence in Mexico and other parts of Latin America.

As it turned out, the radioactive Cobalt-60 was found abandoned by authorities in Mexico. It would appear that who ever stole the truck had no idea what they had taken. They most likely exposed themselves to dangerous radiation in the process.

Neverthless, this incident is not one to be forgotten or ignored, as the excellent article linked below explains:

http://www.oodaloop.com/featured/2013/12/11/dirty-bomb-threats-us-radioactive-scares-mexico/

With lure of religious classes, Iran seeks to recruit Latin Americans

AP -  This1995 photo shows Moshen Rabbani, former cultural attache in the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

AP – This1995 photo shows Moshen Rabbani, former cultural attache in the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

By :

The Mexican law student was surprised by how easy it was to get into Iran two years ago. By merely asking questions about Islam at a party, he managed to pique the interest of Iran’s top diplomat in Mexico. Months later, he had a plane ticket and a scholarship to a mysterious school in Iran as a guest of the Islamic Republic.

Next came the start of classes and a second surprise: There were dozens of others just like him.

(Alejandro Pagni/ASSOCIATED PRESS) - Firefighters and rescue workers search through the rubble of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community center, after a car bomb rocked the building, killing 85 people, on July 18, 1994. Mohsen Rabbani, who currently runs several programs in Iran for Latin American students, was accused of the bombing.

(Alejandro Pagni/ASSOCIATED PRESS) – Firefighters and rescue workers search through the rubble of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community center, after a car bomb rocked the building, killing 85 people, on July 18, 1994. Mohsen Rabbani, who currently runs several programs in Iran for Latin American students, was accused of the bombing.

“There were 25 or 30 of us in my class, all from Latin America,” recalled the student, who was just 19 when he arrived at the small institute that styled itself an Iranian madrassa for Hispanics. “I met Colombians, Venezuelans, multiple Argentines.” Many were new Muslim converts, he said, and all were subject to an immersion course, in perfect Spanish, in what he described as “anti-Americanism and Islam.”

The student, whose first name is Carlos but who spoke on the condition that his full name not be used, left for home only three months later. But his brief Iranian adventure provides a window into an unusual outreach program by Iran, one that targets young adults from countries south of the U.S. border. In recent years, the program has brought hundreds of Latin Americans to Iran for intensive Spanish-language instruction in Iranian religion and culture, much of it supervised by a man who is wanted internationally on terrorism charges, according to U.S. officials and experts.

They describe the program as part of a larger effort by Iran to expand its influence in the Western Hemisphere by building a network of supporters and allies in America’s backyard. The initiative includes not only the recruitment of foreign students for special study inside Iran, but also direct outreach to Latin countries through the construction of mosques and cultural centers and, beginning last year, a new cable TV network that broadcasts Iranian programming in Spanish.

Regional experts say such “soft power” initiatives are mainly political, intended in particular to strengthen Tehran’s foothold in countries such as Venezuela and Ecuador, which share similar anti-American views. But in some cases, Iranian officials have sought to enlist Latin Americans for espionage and even hacking operations targeting U.S. computer systems, according to U.S. and Latin American law-enforcement and intelligence officials.

report issued in May by an Argentine prosecutor cited evidence of “local clandestine intelligence networks” organized by Iran in several South American countries. The document accused Tehran of using religious and cultural programs as cover to create a “capability to provide logistic, economic and operative support to terrorist attacks decided by the Islamic regime.”

Singled out in the report is an Iranian cleric and government official, Mohsen Rabbani, who runs several programs in Iran for Latin American students, including the one attended by Carlos. A former cultural attache in Buenos Aires, Rabbani was accused by Argentina of aiding the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in that city that killed 85 people, the country’s deadliest terrorist attack.

Read more at Washington Post

South American & Mexican Hezbollah Jihadis Threaten the United States

20130220_hezbollah_south_americaby ALAN KORNMAN:

History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid” – Gen. Eisenhower.

The Iranians and their terrorist proxy Hezbollah has been building forward operating bases in the Tri-Border area of South America and Mexico for the last three decades.  Venezuela’s uranium deposits have been an important and rarely reported on component fueling Iran’s efforts to win the hearts and minds of the people in Latin America and Mexico.

Iranian Press Expose the Hispanic Insurgency

Sending young Iranian clerics to Latin American countries to spread Iranian-style radical Shi’ite Islam: To prepare for such missions, clerics train for three years, and study a variety of subjects to help them in their activity in Latin America: Spanish, religions and cultures of Latin America, and skills for converting Spanish speakers to Islam. In February 2012 Hojjat-ol-Eslam Ruhollah Maheri, the deputy director of the institute, announced that registration was open for the eighth course. Those interested were asked to call the institute or send an application form by email (AmuzehSpanish@gmail.com). (Rasa News Agency, 2/15/2012)(ITIC)

U.S. Congress Alerts The Nation

Congressman Michael McCaul, Chairman Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management, in a 2012 report report titled, “A Line  In The Sand: Countering Crime, Violence and Terror At The Southwest Border“,  is alerting Americans to a very serious problem that we must all become aware.

Of growing concern are Hezbollah, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Quds Force, partnering with Mexican and South American drug syndicates, joining in  lucrative drug, gun running, counterfeiting, and human trafficking operations.  Out of these associations, Islamic terrorist groups are making hundreds of millions of dollars while exploiting our Mexican border and entering the United States at any time of their choosing, often cloaked as illegal immigrants.

Wikileaks Exposes U.S. Brazilian Counterterrorism Recommendations (2011)

CONFIDENTIAL SÃO PAULO 000653

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SR FARAH PANDITH, KAREN CHANDLER AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PASS TO AMCONSUL RECIFE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/20

TAGS: PGOV OEXC OIIP PHUM PINR PINS PROP SCUL PTER BR

SUBJECT: Scenesetter for SR Farah Pandith’s Visit to Brazil: São Paulo’s Muslims

REF: São PAULO 433 São PAULO 421 BRASILIA 709 2008 São PAULO 542

Classified By: David C. Brooks, State POL; Reason: 1.4 (d)

The U.S. government also wishes to develop relations between U.S. Muslim community leaders and the Muslim communities in Brazil. They hope that by fostering a connection they will “bolster mainstream Islam in Brazil, highlight the importance of freedom of religion in America, the diversity of Islam in America, and debunk the myths that exist about Islam in America.” Additionally it would further the Sao Paulo Muslim community’s effort to spread its “interfaith relations… with other Muslim communities around the World.”

“Post, Karen Chandler, has suggested several possible programs, including a campaign to provide consular information to Muslim contacts, a series of outreach presentations on President Obama, and, most important, our desire to bring down a visiting U.S. Sheik who can explain how Islam is now a vital part of American society and build ties with local religious leaders. Given its size, diversity and traditions of cultural tolerance, Brazil could be an excellent testing ground for programs that might be useful to other WHA posts with similar Muslim minority populations.”

Obama and State Department Arrogance and Idiocy Towards Political Islam

The United States is an Infidel nation, following man made laws, in direct violation of Islamic Law.  For President Obama’s Foreign Policy team to think we can “influence Hezbollah Islam in Brazil by promoting the diversity of Islam in America” as a force multiplier across the South America region to counter the Hezbollah power base in the tri-border area, is patently absurd and quite dangerous.

Our State Department articulates they will achieve this naive objective above by doing a “series of outreach presentations on President Obama and bringing down a U.S. Sheik to say how important Islam is to American Society.”

The WikiLeaks memo above focuses a neon light on how utterly ignorant our State Department officials are about the Islamic Threat Doctrine, Hezbollah, Al-Queda, and the Muslim Brotherhood.  American policy makers believe this mythical form of Infidel U.S. friendly Islam will out Islam the truer Islam of Iran is like the Keystone Cops giving tactical training to the Navy SEAL’s.

Hezbollah is currently sending Jihadis through the porous Mexican / U.S. Border creating a national security risk which The Obama Administration refuses to name, much less address and counter.

Read more: Family Security Matters 

Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Alan Kornman is the regional coordinator of The United West-Uniting Western Civilization for Freedom and Liberty. His email is: alan@theunitedwest.org

 

Update: Creeping Sharia has extensive coverage of Hezbollah in Belize:

Hezbollah getting passports in Belize to travel from Mexico to U.S.

 

Previous CJR posts on the growing terrorist threat from Hezbollah in South America:

Jihadists exploit Latin America to finance terror

imagesCAH4IYW8Money Jihad:

Latin America has experienced a possible increase in terror financing activities by radical Islamists throughout 2012.  Consider the developments that have been revealed this year:

  • In September, published reports indicated that a Hezbollah camp in Nicaragua is training 30 operatives and is laundering money.
  • The Venezuela chapter of Hezbollah is using Panama for bulk cash smuggling for follow-on transfer to Beirut.
  • Some goods, possibly even missile components, are being exported via Panama directly to Iran.
  • The use of the Venezuelan air carrier Conviasa to smuggle contraband through Africa to Europe earned it an “operational ban” from the EU in April.  Hezbollah profited from the Conviasa flights.  It is unclear whether the ban interferes with Conviasa’s African flights.
  • Cuba was listed again by the U.S. in 2012 as a state sponsor of terrorism partly for the continued safe haven Cuba provides to terrorist groups FARC and ETA.  Havana is now also letting IHH, the radical Islamist Turkish charity that has been banned by Germany for its financing of Hamas, build a mosque in Cuba.
  • A trio of Hezbollah agents in Mexico was exposed during an arrest of one operative who had previously been convicted in the U.S. for credit card fraud that funded terrorism.
  • Ecuador was blacklisted in June by FATF, the international financial watchdog, for failing to make progress against money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • In its annual report in July, the U.S. State Department said, “Brazil has not criminalized terrorist financing in a manner that is consistent with the FATF Special Recommendation II.”

Given its Western heritage and deep Catholic faith, Latin America can and should be a natural ally in the war against Islamic terror.  Its energy resources make it a natural counterweight to the oil powerhouse of the Middle East.

But this wonderful opportunity to present a united trans-American front against jihad is being jeopardized by attitudes of permissiveness, ignorance, and political correctness.  American politicians like Michelle Bachman and Connie Mack who recognize the threat are written off as know-nothing xenophobes.  But the news this year indicates that they are correct.

Congressional report ties Middle East terrorists to Mexican drug cartels

Iran Quds force

By Matthew Boyle

A new congressional report from the House  Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and  Management ties Middle East terror organizations to Mexican drug cartels.

The report, released Thursday, is titled “A Line in the Sand: Countering  Crime, Violence and Terror at the Southwest Border.” It found that the “Southwest border has now become the greatest threat of terrorist infiltration  into the United States.” It specifically cites a “growing influence” from  Iranian and Hezbollah terror forces in Latin America.

“The presence of Hezbollah in Latin America is partially explained by the  large Lebanese diaspora in South America,” the report reads. “In general,  Hezbollah enjoys support by many in the Lebanese world community in part because  of the numerous social programs it provides in Lebanon that include schools,  hospitals, utilities and welfare.”

The congressional report, prepared by the subcommittee’s chairman, Texas  Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, argues that the “explanation for Iranian  presence in Latin America begins with its symbiotic relationship with  Hezbollah.”

“United in their dedication to the destruction of Israel, Iran has helped  Hezbollah grow from a small group of untrained guerrillas into what is arguably  the most highly trained, organized and equipped terrorist organization in the  world,” the report reads. “In return, Hezbollah has served as an ideal proxy for  Iranian military force – particularly against Israel – which affords Iran  plausible deniability diplomatically. Hence wherever Hezbollah is entrenched,  Iran will be as well and vice-versa.”

Read more at Daily Caller

Congressman Jeff Duncan’s First Bill Passes US House

 A big victory for ACT! for America! One of their high priority bills, Congressman Jeff Duncan’s Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act (HR 3783), passed the full House.

Washington, DC—South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan achieved a major legislative victory on Wednesday afternoon after one of his bills, the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act (HR 3783), passed the full House with unanimous support. Duncan’s legislation addresses a growing concern among security experts that Iran is increasing its sphere of influence in Latin America. The legislation passes the House of Representatives just two weeks after an Israeli news organization revealed that Iran has established a Hezbollah terrorist training base in northern Nicaragua, and one week after the media reported that three suspected Hezbollah terrorists were arrested in Merida, Mexico.

“One of the ways we can honor the memory of those who lost their lives during the War on Terror is to be vigilant in protecting against new threats here at home,” said Duncan. “In the shadow of Iran’s growing nuclear ambitions, there’s another threat emerging of an Iranian-backed terror network in our own hemisphere.”

“From the deployment of an Iranian television network in Latin America, to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s frequent trips to the region; Iran’s made their interest in the region well known,” said Duncan. “Recent developments including arresting suspected Hezbollah terrorists in Mexico, and evidence showing terrorist networks potentially working closely with Mexican drug cartels is even more disturbing.”

With Duncan’s bill clearing the House of Representatives without a single Democrat objection, the legislation has a chance of passing out of the United States Senate.

“Iran’s actions in our neighborhood represent a real threat to our safety and security,” said Duncan. “This bill provides the first step to countering Iran’s hostile presence right here at home, and I’m hopeful that this measure will move quickly through the Senate.”

Duncan’s legislation:

  • This legislation establishes a strong U.S. posture, policy, and relationship with Latin American countries
  • Protects U.S. interests and assets in the Western Hemisphere such as embassies, consulates, businesses, energy pipelines, and cultural organizations, including threats to U.S. allies
  • Addresses the vital national security interests of the United States by ensuring that energy supplies from the Western Hemisphere are free from the influence of any foreign government that would attempt to manipulate or disrupt global energy markets
  • Requires a secure U.S. border with the U.S. working in coordination with the governments of Mexico and Canada to prevent Iranian operatives from entering the U.S. Counters efforts by foreign persons, entities, and governments in the region to assist Iran in evading U.S. and international sanctions

Iran Courts Latin America

by Ilan Berman

Middle East Quarterly
Summer 2012, pp. 63-69 (view PDF)

In October 2011, U.S. attorney general Eric Holder and FBI director Robert Mueller revealed the thwarting of an elaborate plot by elements in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington at a posh D.C. eatery, utilizing members of the Los Zetas Mexican drug cartel.[1]

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (left) hosted an Iftar (fast breaking) ceremony on Ramadan in Tehran, September 3, 2009, which was attended by Bolivian president Evo Morales (right) during a two-day official visit. Tehran is now believed to be extracting uranium from as many as eleven different sites in Bolivia close to the country’s industrial capital of Santa Cruz.

The foiled terrorist plot, with its Latin American connections, focused new attention on what had until then been a largely overlooked political phenomenon: the intrusion of the Islamic Republic of Iran into the Western Hemisphere. An examination of Tehran’s behavioral pattern in the region over the past several years reveals four distinct strategic objectives: loosening the U.S.-led international noose to prevent it from building nuclear weapons; obtaining vital resources for its nuclear project; creating informal networks for influence projection and sanctions evasion; and establishing a terror infrastructure that could target the U.S. homeland.

Building Western Hemisphere Alliances

Outreach to Latin America is seen by the Iranian regime first and foremost as a means to lessen its deepening international isolation. Since 2003, when its previously clandestine nuclear program became a pressing international issue, Tehran has sought to mitigate the mounting political and economic restrictions levied against it by the United States and its allies through intensified diplomatic outreach abroad.

Due to its favorable geopolitical climate—typified by vast ungoverned areas and widespread anti-Americanism—Latin America has become an important focus of this effort. Over the past decade, the regime has nearly doubled the number of embassies in the region (from six in 2005 to ten in 2010) and has devoted considerable energy to forging economic bonds with sympathetic regional governments.[2]

Far and away the most prominent such partnership has been with Venezuela. Since Hugo Chavez became president in 1999, alignment with Tehran has emerged as a cardinal tenet of Caracas’s foreign policy. The subsequent election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Iranian presidency in 2005 kicked cooperation into high gear with dramatic results. Today, the two countries enjoy an extensive and vibrant strategic partnership. Venezuela has emerged as an important source of material assistance for Tehran’s sprawling nuclear program as well as a vocal diplomatic backer of its right to atomic power.[3] The Chavez regime also has become a safe haven and source of financial support for Hezbollah, Iran’s most powerful terrorist proxy.[4] In turn, Tehran’s feared Revolutionary Guard has become involved in training Venezuela’s secret services and police.[5] Economic contacts between Caracas and Tehran likewise have exploded—expanding from virtually nil in the early 2000s to more than $20 billion in total trade and cooperation agreements today.[6]

Just as significantly, Venezuela has served as Iran’s gateway for further economic and diplomatic expansion into the region. Aided by its partnership with Caracas and bolstered by a shared anti-American outlook, Tehran has succeeded in forging significant strategic, economic, and political links with the regime of Evo Morales in Bolivia and Rafael Correa in Ecuador. Even Iran’s relations with Argentina, where Iranian-supported terrorists carried out major bombings in 1992 and 1994, have improved in recent times, as the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has hewed a more conciliatory line toward Tehran.[7]

It would be a mistake, however, to view these contacts as simply pragmatic—or strictly defensive. The Iranian regime’s sustained systematic outreach to regional states suggests that it sees the Western Hemisphere as a crucial strategic theater for expanding its own influence and reducing that of the United States. Indeed, a 2009 dossier prepared by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that “since Ahmadinejad’s rise to power, Tehran has been promoting an aggressive policy aimed at bolstering its ties with Latin American countries with the declared goal of ‘bringing America to its knees.'”[8] This view is increasingly shared by the U.S. military: In its 2010 report on Iranian military power, the Office of the Secretary of Defense noted that “Iran seeks to increase its stature by countering U.S. influence and expanding ties with regional actors” in Latin America.[9]

To this end, Tehran is ramping up its strategic messaging to the region. In late January, on the heels of Ahmadinejad’s very public four-country tour of Latin America, the Iranian regime formally launched HispanTV, a Spanish-language analogue to its English-language Press TV channel.[10] The television outlet has been depicted by Ahmadinejad as part of his government’s efforts to “limit the ground for supremacy of dominance seekers”—a thinly-veiled reference to U.S. influence in the Western Hemisphere.[11]

As Ahmadinejad’s statement indicates, Tehran is pursuing a strategy that promotes its own ideology and influence in Latin America at Washington’s expense. In this endeavor, it has been greatly aided by Chavez, who himself has worked diligently to diminish U.S. political and economic presence in the region under the banner of a new “Bolivarian” revolution.

Read more

40,000 Iran agents in Western Hemisphere

By Reza Kahlili

Iran has expanded its terror network and now has tens of thousands of agents in Latin America, according to a former Iranian official who has witnessed the regime’s crimes against humanity inside Iran and has knowledge of its terror network targeting the West.

In interviews with the opposition outside Iran, the official revealed that more than 40,000 of the regime’s security, intelligence and propaganda forces successfully have been placed over time in Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Venezuela.

These forces consist mostly of former interrogators, torturers and security forces along with the members of the Quds Forces.

Many of them, according to the source, are other nationalities, such as Afghans, Lebanese, Iraqis and Somalis.

Hassan Rahim Pour Azghodi, a member of The Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution in Iran and a noted ideologist and theorist of the Islamic regime who visited Ecuador, Venezuela and several other Latin American countries last year, is a former interrogator and a torturer who is now a close adviser of Ghassem Soliemani, the chief commander of the Quds Forces, the source said.

Azghodi, in a lecture last September aired on Iranian state-owned television, stated, “We must get ready for global operation. … Our fellow fighters are present in all five continents of the world. … An international jihad must be provoked; we must fear no one.”

According to the source, many of these forces have flown directly from Tehran to Caracas, Venezuela, whose president, Hugo Chavez, is an ally of Tehran. Many also have been placed in Bolivia. Their duties are to expand the regime’s ideology, gather intelligence and be ready for operations against the West.

“We have Imam Ali Mosques in Bolivia, in Venezuela Imam Ali centers, as well as in Brazil and other countries of the region,” the source said. “Many of the forces are a front involved in projects to help the host country such as building homes, roads and others. These forces always get together and share information in the mosques.”

As reported in May through a source who served in Iranian intelligence and had recently defected to a country in Europe, the Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence division runs operations out of mosques.

Those operations include recruitment, reconnaissance and transfer of arms and cash.

This source also verified then that all Imam Ali Mosques are controlled by regime intelligence operatives and that the cells are well placed in Europe and America for terrorist acts.

“The Quds Force has established a command and control center in both Bolivia and Venezuela. Though it has presence in Europe and other parts of the world, it has focused on Latin America,” the former official said. “They have forces in Guatemala but mostly for training on torture methods – though not modern but very effective – as Guatemala is one of the best in the world and training for torture is one of its resources for income.”

Many of the forces are also trained in Iran for suicide bombings. They are brainwashed and go through a ritual in which they are naked but for their shorts and are washed on a stone where verses of the Quran are read to them. Then they are taken to the supreme leader for final approval.

According to the source, members also include Palestinians and Iraqis, and many were behind suicide bombings against American forces in Iraq. Should war break out, these forces are to conduct terrorist acts in Europe and America.

The source warned that the regime is active in recruiting and training for terrorist activities and assassinations of the opposition in Canada and America. Recently, Hamid Mohammadi, the Iranian cultural affairs counselor at the Islamic regime’s embassy in Ottawa, in an interview with an Iran-based website, urged those loyal to the regime to be ready to advance the Islamic regime’s interests.

Read the rest at WND

Reza Kahlili translated this Iranian video about Islamic prophecies of a coming messiah and the destruction of Israel:

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the author of the award-winning book, A Time to Betray. He is a senior Fellow with EMPact America, a member of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and teaches at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy (JCITA).

Related articles:

 Iran’s global reach (Caroline Glick, May 19, 2009)

Mexican Jihad (Raymond Ibrahim,May 11, 2012)

Iran leader: We must prep for ‘end of times’ (Reza Kahlili, WND)

Iran Infiltrates Canada, Calls to Attack America (Gatestone Institute)