We hate to say we told you so (well, not really) but we told you so. Rather than fumble around for something cogent to say on the subject, I asked the man who shot two Vents for us on this subject last year to give us his take on NBC’s report. He kindly agreed. Here, without further ado, is our pal Clint Taylor:
It’s great to see the MSM waking up to the fact that Hezbollah maintains an active, malignant presence in South America. It’s even better to see them explore this implication of the story:
The implications of such lawlessness could be dire, U.S. and Paraguayan officials said. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Hezbollah militiamen would raise no suspicions because they have Latin American passports, speak Spanish and look like Hispanic tourists.
The CIA singles out the Mexican border as an especially inviting target for Hezbollah operatives. “Many alien smuggling networks that facilitate the movement of non-Mexicans have established links to Muslim communities in Mexico,” its Counter Terrorism Center said in a 2004 threat paper.
“Non-Mexicans often are more difficult to intercept because they typically pay high-end smugglers a large sum of money to efficiently assist them across the border, rather than haphazardly traverse it on their own.”
Last summer I reported for Hot Air about a Venezuela-based cell calling themselves “Hezbollah in Venezuela”, or “Hezbollah in Latin America”, which threatened attacks inside the continental United States if Iran were to be attacked. On its website, this group bragged about its connections all across Latin America, including to a “brother” in Mexico City (whom they asked for help in the form of transportation). So the idea that Hezbollah terrorists will be non-Mexican isn’t even a sure bet. They could even be American; after all, they sent me an e-mail. But it may not even matter where they’re from, because another Venezuelan branch of Hezbollah has an expertise in forging passports–Mexican passports–and helped set up the Hezbollah fundraising cell in Charlotte, N.C.
That branch–based mainly on Margarita Island–is overlooked in MSNBC’s report, but they may represent an important component of Hezbollah’s presence in South America. They are low-key, but reports about them suggest they are extremely competent and send a lot of money back to Lebanon.
The Hezbollah in Venezuela cell I reported on–based on the Guajira Peninsula–are the junior varsity. They denied any direct connection or support from Lebanese Hezbollah, but were allowed to continue using the brand name without any consequences. They are public, ostentatious, and not very careful. In fact, they’re kind of dumb. This bunch gets a brief mention in MSNBC’s report:
On their Web page, local Hezbollah militants in Venezuela call their fight against the United States a “holy war” and post photographs of would-be suicide terrorists with masks and bombs…
In October, homemade bombs were left in front of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, which is next to a school.
Police arrested a student carrying Hezbollah propaganda in Spanish. One of the pamphlets showed a picture of children and said, “Combat is our highest expression of love and the only way to offer a healthy and uncorrupted world.”
Caracas police were able to detonate the bombs safely. Police Commissioner Wilfredo Borras said they appeared to be “explosive devices made to make noise and publicity” — very different from what would be used if the United States attacked Iran.
In fact, shortly after this leaflet attack, the Venezuelan group posted new threats on their site, including death threats against Ambassador William Brownfield and pictures of bombs fashioned from propane cylinders.
Not long after posting that, as I reported in the American Spectator online, the loser in charge of the cell found himself under arrest.
While said loser is still under lock and key, there are still signs of life on his dormant website. Someone escaped the dragnet, and now they’ve scuttled along to who knows where.