Tag Archives: Iran

Iran’s Theater of Operations in Latin America

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In Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America (Lexington Books, 2014) authors and global security experts Joseph Humire and Ilan Berman elaborate on Kelly’s position with a collection of essays that provides an alarming look at Iran’s penetration of Latin America. That activity began in 1979 as part of Iran’s overall strategy to seek global power and develop nuclear weapons. Latin American experts featured in this revealing volume detail how Iran’s infiltration of Latin America has been pursued under the cover of commercial activities and cultural exchanges and has been aided by an alliance and shared militancy with the Latin American Left. The experts maintain that, over more than three decades, Iran has been able to forge strong economic, political, and strategic links to the region.

As the authors explain, Iran began its strategic infiltration of Latin America in 1982. International proxy groups exported Muslim revolutionary ideas using a global network of embassies and mosques under the cover of legitimate commerce and diplomatic, cultural, and religious associations. In this way, the Islamic regime concealed its intelligence activities, claimed diplomatic immunity and gained access to backdoor channels and local governments. Iran’s operatives traveled throughout the region unifying and radicalizing Islamic communities and recruiting, proselytizing and indoctrinating young Latin Americans.

Editor Joseph Humire recounts that in 1983 the regime sent an emissary, Mohsen Rabbani, an Iranian cleric, as a commercial attaché to set up a trade agreement with Argentina, ostensibly to supply halal-certified meat to the Islamic Republic. Rabbani, who in 1994 would become the primary architect of a terrorist attack in Buenos Aires, fostered alliances with local Shiite Muslims, as well as radical activists who wanted to shift power away from democratic alliances and U.S. influence. Trade with Iran helped these activists buy political patronage to advance authoritarian rule and enabled them to funnel mass social spending into their countries and influence elections. As Islamic terrorist entities such as Iran’s proxy, Hizb’allah, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) moved into the region, they joined with local radical groups such as FARC and Shining Path in their anti-Americanism and hatred of Jews and Israel.

The authors explore how, with a large Muslim population in place spewing hatred toward Israel, attention focused on the largest Jewish population in South America, the 230,000 Jews in Argentina. In 1992, a Hizb’allah-linked terrorist group claimed responsibility for bombing the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. In 1994, Hizb’allah committed the deadliest bombing in Argentine history when it bombed the AMIA Jewish community center also in Buenos Aires, killing 89 people and injuring hundreds.

The essay collection insightfully examines the role of Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez. After becoming president in 1999, he forged a close relationship with Iran and hailed Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hizb’allah, as a hero. He also demanded criminal prosecution for Israel’s leader, Ariel Sharon, and President George W. Bush for mass murder. Chavez was able to help Iran overcome the hurdles of economic sanctions and engage in both licit and illicit commercial activity, including acquisition of strategic minerals for nuclear weapons development, drug trafficking, and money laundering. Chavez filled his cabinet with Islamists and became a close partner with then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. According to the authors, during this period Iranian influence in Latin American countries increased significantly.

Chavez worked closely with Fidel Castro, the first leader to recognize the Islamic republic and to invite Iran to open in Havana its first Latin American embassy. Together, Chavez and Castro sponsored a socialist “Bolivarian Revolution” to establish a “new world order” in which Latin America was part of a global revolution, not unlike the one in Iran. In 2004, they founded the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America or ALBA.

In Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America, the authors examine how, over a decade, ALBA grew in strategic importance in Latin America and helped cause the backsliding of democratic reforms in the region. ALBA’s goal was to create a Latin American coalition under Venezuelan and Cuban rule using non-state actors and transnational organized crime to bring about a post-American world. In 2010, Iran and Syria were admitted to the organization as observer states. Chavez worked with Iran and Hizb’allah to train his military in asymmetric warfare, the use of insurgency forces against established armies. Iran financed an ALBA military training school in Bolivia, as well as Hizb’allah training centers in other countries. Hizb’allah became heavily involved in drug trafficking and money laundering in the tri-border area of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. It made millions of dollars, sending cocaine from Mexico and Columbia to the Middle East and Europe. Hizb’allah used its presence in Latin America to raise money for its global operations from the Lebanese and Syrian diasporas and to recruit, indoctrinate and proselytize among the Latin American population.

Iran accrued great benefit from its relationship with the ALBA nations. Diplomatically, they stood against sanctions on Iran and tried to subvert any attempts to isolate the Islamic republic. They provided Iran with a media platform in the region and supported Iran’s rejection of nuclear weapons scrutiny from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Additionally, through ALBA, Iran skirted international sanctions and evaded financial authorities by launching front companies, laundering money and injecting cash into the financial systems of ALBA countries for lucrative, commercial, and criminal enterprises.

Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America does a good job of providing an overall picture of Iran’s infiltration of South and Central America and the Caribbean. It also raises the question of what the future holds for the region. Since the death of Chavez and the economic decline in Venezuela and other Latin American countries, the trajectory of Iran-Latin America relations has shifted. Iran retains commercial interests in many countries in the area and is working to strengthen its political and economic ties. It continues to maintain its innocence in the AMIA bombing, despite substantial evidence to the contrary and heightened negative publicity from the suspicious death of chief prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, in January 2015. Many Latin American countries are wary of Iran’s influence, regional intelligence gathering and its status as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Donald Trump’s election may signal a game change in the region. Trump has emphatically and repeatedly stated his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal which calls up possible reimposition of sanctions. Similarly, a ruling by Columbia’s Constitutional Court to allow expedited congressional approval for a peace accord with the Hizb’allah-allied terrorist group, FARC, could limit the previously fertile ground for Islamic terrorism in South America. Additionally, the presence of increasingly Euro-friendly regimes in Argentina, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil, could constitute welcome impediments to Iran’s continued hold on power in the region. Finally, and most optimistically, with retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly as the nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, Iran’s use of Latin America as a nexus for terrorist operations could be dramatically curtailed, if not eliminated outright.

#Yemen: Iran Backed Houthi launch ballistic missile at Mecca

Yemen’s Houthi militia launched a ballistic missile toward Mecca on Thursday, the Saudi-led coalition intervening in Yemen’s civil war on behalf of the government said in a statement.

Coalition forces destroyed the missile 65 km (40 miles) from the holy city before it could do any damage, and retaliated against the launch site inside Yemen, said the statement, carried on the state news agency SPA. Mecca is home to the most sacred sites in Islam, including the Grand Mosque.

The Shi’ite Muslim Houthis confirmed the launch of a Burkan-1 ballistic missile into Saudi Arabia in a statement on their official news agency, but said it had been aimed at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, the kingdom’s busiest airport.

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council denounced the missile attack.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates, a member of the coalition and the GCC, pointed the finger at Iran, which backs the Houthis.

“The Iranian regime is supporting a terrorist group that fires its rockets on Mecca, is this an Islamic regime as it claims?” he tweeted.

The coalition has been fighting Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who control much of the north of Yemen including the capital Sanaa, since March 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, now in exile.

(Reporting by Omar Fahmy and Ahmed Tolba in Cairo; Writing by Katie Paul and Rania El Gamal; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

What Iran shows us about the global jihadist movement

According to the very State Department that pushed so hard for the Obama administration’s Iran appeasement deal, that same nation upon whom we have lavished over $100 billion, lobbied on behalf of and promised protection of its nuclear infrastructure, remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.While many are aware of the pernicious activities of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard across the globe, and the Khameinist regime’s support of Shia jihadist groups like Hezbollah, lesser discussed is Iranian collaboration with Sunni jihadists.

For the latest evidence of an alliance that might surprise those who view Sunni and Shia Muslims as diametrically opposed mortal enemies, look no further than the recent news out of the U.S. Treasury Department.

As reported in the always-insightful Omri Ceren’s latest dispatch, Treasury announced that it was imposing sanctions on three senior Al Qaeda members stationed in Iran.

According to the Treasury press release, it took such action to “disrupt the operations, fundraising, and support networks that help al-Qaida move money and operatives from South Asia and across the Middle East.”

As Ceren highlights, one such Al Qaeda operative, Abu Bakr Muhammad Muhammad Ghumayn, controlled the financing and organization of Al Qaeda in Iran.

Another operative, Yisra Muhammad Ibrahim Bayumi, engaged in direct dialogue with the Iranian government, serving as a mediator. He was “reportedly involved in freeing al-Qaida members in Iran.”

It strains credulity to believe that a closed Shia nation like Iran, often competing against Sunni forces, would be unaware of Al Qaeda officers within its borders. And in this case we have clear evidence that it was comfortable with Al Qaeda operating on its soil because Iranian authorities were negotiating with the aforementioned Bayumi.

What are we to make of this revelation?

While Sunni and Shia Islamic supremacists may differ in terms of theology, strategies and tactics, their overarching goals are very much aligned – namely ensuring the dominance of Islam throughout the world by killing the infidel or forcing him to submit, with a focus on the “Great” and “Little Satans” of the United States and Israel.

The case of Israel, threatened by Sunni jihadists like Hamas on the one hand, and Shia jihadists like Hezbollah on the other, is most illustrative of this fact.

Another element of this story is relevant in light of the fact that 9/11 is again a live subject now that the federal government has finally released the 28 pages of its report regarding Saudi involvement in the attack.

Much though such ties have been ignored in our Ben Rhodes fantasy world, there is ample compelling evidence indicating Iranian support for the 9/11 attack as well.

In fact in 2011, U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels held in Havlish, et al. v. bin Laden, et al. that “Iran and Hezbollah materially and directly supported Al Qaeda in the September 11, 2001 attacks,” holding the Islamic Republic responsible for damages to family members of the attack’s victims.

The facts and findings of that court case detail chapter and verse the extensive ties between Iran and its proxies and Sunni jihadists spanning multiple decades and covering all manner of operations and activities. Some of the key high-level findings from page 15 of the report are chronicled below:

Bridging the divide

Foreign policy necessarily involves dealing with hostile regimes, and sometimes making common cause with them in order to advance greater interests.

But there is little to indicate that as concerns the global jihadist threat, comprised of state and non-state actors Sunni and Shia each with competing but often overlapping interests and motivations, that America has the faintest clue as to how best to proceed in its national interest, whether in the form of the 9/11-tied Saudis or the 9/11-tied Iranians.

With great regularity we appear to be on every side of every conflict, evincing a lack of clarity about ourselves and our enemies.

For the jihadists are playing a game of “Heads I win, tails you lose.”

They know what they want and are doing everything in their power to achieve it. Does America?

– See more at: https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2016/07/what-iran-shows-us-about-the-global-jihadist-movement#sthash.XRDi0Cjo.dpuf