Why Are We Ignoring Jihadists in Latin America?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FBI: 7,700 Terrorist Encounters in USA Last Year

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

CounterJihad, Sept. 26, 2016:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see:

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

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

Book Review: ‘Hezbollah,’ by Matthew Levitt

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

OB-ZE805_bkrvhe_DV_20131007163105By Michael J. Totten:

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at WSJ