Green Room

Hezbollah in the tri-border area, Hezbollah in the tri-state area

posted at 10:38 am on February 14, 2012 by

For years I have been blogging on Iran‘s presence in Latin America, which includes Hezbollah’s influence in the tri-border area of Paraguay-Brazil-Argentina.

Most readers probably consider this an abstraction of sorts, things happening far away that have no bearing in their lives.

In fact, this is a matter of national security important to the USA. Mitchell Silber, director of intelligence analysis for the New York City Police Department, explains why in today’s Wall Street Journal,
The Iranian Threat to New York City
As the West’s conflict with Iran over its nuclear program heats up, New York City—with its large Jewish population—becomes an increasingly attractive target.

Iran has a proven record of using its official presence in a foreign city to coordinate attacks, which are then carried out by Hezbollah agents from abroad, often leveraging the local community—whether wittingly or not—as facilitators. Most notable are the 1992 and 1994 bombings of Israeli and Jewish targets in Argentina, which killed 29 and 85 people, respectively. The New York City Police Department, where I work as director of Intelligence Analysis, sent a team to Argentina to study the modus operandi of those attacks and to meet with Argentine security officials who worked the investigations. Coupled with open source information, this is what the NYPD learned:

Iranian agents were sent to Argentina years before the attacks, where they integrated into society and became Argentine nationals. Mohsen Rabbani is believed to have been in charge of coordinating the 1994 attack and is subject to an Interpol arrest warrant for his involvement. He first came to Argentina in 1983, where he subsequently became the main imam at At-Tauhid, an Iranian-funded mosque in Buenos Aires.

After traveling to Iran in August 1993 to participate in a meeting that allegedly gave the planned attack the green light, Mr. Rabbani returned to Argentina as a cultural attaché to the Iranian Embassy, conveniently providing him diplomatic immunity. Then, Hezbollah agents from abroad received logistical support from members of the local Lebanese-Shiite community and the Iranian Embassy to carry out the attack.

The Argentine attacks were by no means isolated incidents. Hezbollah has been tied to failed attacks in 2009 against Israeli and Jewish interests in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Turkey. Last month, Thai officials arrested a suspected Hezbollah militant for possibly planning attacks there or perhaps facilitating the movement of weapons through Bangkok.

In the New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania area,

Hezbollah and its supporters have a presence in New York and the surrounding area as well. In 2008, two Staten Island men pleaded guilty to providing material support to Hezbollah. Just down the road in Philadelphia, 26 people—including a former Brooklyn resident—were indicted in federal court in 2009 for conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group.

Lebanese-linked businesses in the tri-state area and elsewhere have been implicated in a massive money-laundering scheme benefiting Hezbollah. This scheme was revealed in a civil suit filed against several Lebanese financial institutions last December by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Meanwhile, at least 18 other Hezbollah-related cases have been brought in federal courts across the United States since 2000.

Among them, Moussa Ali Hamdan, a naturalized US citizen who lived in Brooklyn, worked in New Jersey, and is wanted in Philadelphia for exporting stolen cars to Lebanon to finance terror organizations there.

And, for what it’s worth, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi is wanted by Interpol for being behind the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires.

Cross-posted at Fausta’s blog

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Why would Iran target New York City? Don’t they know New Yorkers vote for Democrats? – Michael Moore

NoDonkey on February 14, 2012 at 11:24 AM

But, Obama told us that Iran is not a threat. Iran is a tiny country and doesn’t pose a threat. Remember?

coldwarrior on February 14, 2012 at 12:17 PM

But, Obama told us that Iran is not a threat. Iran is a tiny country and doesn’t pose a threat. Remember?

coldwarrior on February 14, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Actually, I think that was Ron Paul.

But Fausta’s implied point, linking Iranian capability in North America to the Iranian/Hezbollah presence in Central and South America, is a good one.

It has been mindlessly stupid for the Obama administration to burn bridegs with our best partners in Latin America while cultivating swine like Chavez (and being grotesquely obsequious with Brazil). It hasn’t made the nations of the region any happier. It has only diminished their respect for the US.

To frame it through a narrow but telling point, I would say this about the Obama approach: with every reason to honor Simon Bolivar for his actual beliefs and accomplishments, which were inspired by the American founding, Obama instead sees Bolivar as Hugo Chavez does.

J.E. Dyer on February 14, 2012 at 1:52 PM

J.E. Dyer on February 14, 2012 at 1:52 PM

I’ll stick with my Obama reference, back during the 2008 campaign…and yes, Ron Paul said it as well, later.

Did a Green Room thread about Hizzbollah in Latin America a few years ago, and posted about the Iran-Latin America connection, as well as al-Qaeda connection, and was most often met with derision for seeing a turban under every rock in North America at the time.

Obama sees things as he wishes they had been…more progressive, more to his liking, making up “facts” along the way.

He has also shown the US to be the weak horse across the globe, and people and governments across the globe appear to be astonished that the cradle of freedom for decades if not a couple centuries, is dismantling its ability to actually assist in the establishment of democracy and representative government and protect and project the same, at a time when as bit of backbone would help.

When Obama abandoned the Iranians…because “we do not meddle in the internal affairs” of other nations…especially after the now long-forgotten death of Neda Agha-Soltan…yet jumped at the chance to get involved in the chaos of Libya on trumped up rationales, or actively participated in the overthrow of governments in Egypt and Tunisia…well, to those who once-respected us, the signal was clear…we no longer “deserved” respect. And to those who held us in contempt…well, their contempt is now justified…and growing and spreading rapidly.

And Obama’s Cairo speech and the failed subsequent dialog, was to eliminate the contempt and hatred in the region, instead the venom has spread even to our shores, within our borders, and most of the world understands that with a President more than willing to toss them under the bus to suit his own needs…taking us down a few notches is now a relatively easy task.

Face it, being a weak horse wins no friends anywhere at anytime, Middle East or elsewhere.

Having no demonstrable principles save to get re-elected, does nothing to justify the respect of the world, either.

coldwarrior on February 14, 2012 at 9:43 PM

coldwarrior on February 14, 2012 at 9:43 PM

Lot of good metaphors this morning. The weak horse is left behind by the herd. The stronger horses shy away from it, and even stampede it away from the grazing area. It loses strength until it can’t outrun the predators, and then becomes food first for the lion, then for the jackal, then for the vulture, and finally for the fly and the ant.

J.E. Dyer on February 15, 2012 at 12:30 PM

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