Continuing on in 2006-2007:
Note: Adding links to this link collection.
ON THE NET...
December 03, 2006
“Just in time for Hizballah and al-Qaida operatives to start moving towards North America...”
“Hezbollah America Latina: Strange Group or Real Threat?”
Dr. Ely Karmon
“Iran’s Ahmadinejad to tour Latin America”
AFP ^ | Jan 10 , 2007
1,465 posted on January 25, 2007 1:29:52 PM PST by Cindy
Let’s look at 2003-2004
SNIPPET - quote from the link above:
Connecting the South American Terror Dots
FrontPageMagazine.com ^ | August 9, 2004 | David Meir-Levi
Posted on August 9, 2004 4:47:20 AM PDT by SJackson
Dot # 1: A Growing Threat in the Tri-Border Area of South America. (Terrorist and Organized Crime Groups in the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of South America. A Report Prepared under an Interagency Agreement by the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, July 2003.)
Since the early 1980s, Arab terrorists have been sending thousands of their cohorts to the almost inaccessible jungle and mountain region between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay (known as the TBA, Tri-Border Area or La Triple Frontera). Terror training camps and arsenals have been established, virtually out of the reach of local law enforcement or defense forces; and elements from Hezbollah, al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and the Lebanese Drug mafia operate in partnership, freely and openly in conjunction with local organized crime and corrupt government officials.
The TBA has become a virtual haven for Islamic terror groups and a base for terror operations against South American targets. The large and growing Arab population of these states (in excess of 750,000 by local estimates) provides a community highly conducive to the establishment of Islamic terrorist sleeper cells throughout the area. The attacks in Buenos Aires on the Israeli embassy (3/17/1992) and the Jewish Community Center (7/18/1994) are believed to have originated from terror bases in the TBA. Since the mid-90s, government forces have foiled many more terror attacks against American, Jewish and Israeli targets, arresting some of the perpetrators.
CNN reported that an Islamic terrorist summit meeting was held in the TBA in late 2002, to plot attacks in South America and abroad. Security forces believe that future targets include USA and Israeli government offices, Jewish community buildings, hotels, tourism centers, airports and facilities of multinational corporations.
The TBA terrorist haven also operates an immense money-laundering project, reaping profits from their partnerships with the FARC and narcotics traffickers in the widespread South American drug trade. Government estimates place the total amount of money laundered since 1992 at more than 172 billion dollars.
There is currently no effective surveillance or containment of these terrorist activities.
Dot #2: Increased Terrorism in northern Venezuela (U.S. News & World Report, 10/6/03, pp. 18ff.)
Another South American hub of Arab terrorism has emerged recently in northern Venezuela near the border with Colombia. Thousands of terrorists now occupy an unknown number of camps in that region, and move about with the support and collaboration of the Venezuelan government. President Hugo Chavez plays host to a growing horde of Middle Eastern terrorists from some of the USAs most notorious enemies, including Libya, Saddams Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Pakistan. Thousands of Venezuelan identity cards have been legally issued to these foreigners. Such cards can be used to obtain legal travel documents and passports for unimpeded entry into other South American countries and into the USA.
These terror groups are known to work in conjunction with the Colombian anti-government insurgency group, FARC. They offer FARC terrorists safe haven in mountainous and unpatrolled regions of Northeastern Venezuela. They may provide Hugo Chavez with a covert force that can be used to support FARC against the Colombian government. Venezuelan cooperation with these terrorists may buy President Chavez a guarantee that terror assaults will not be perpetrated in his country.
Currently there are no known terror attacks that can be attributed to these groups.
Dot #3: Illegal Immigration at the Southern Border Not Just Hispanics, Anymore. (U.S. seizes 77 Mideastern aliens in southern Arizona, World Tribune, 8/2/04; Two groups of middle-eastern invaders caught in Cochise county in past six weeks, Tombstone Tumbleweed, 7/18/04; Breaking silence over possible terror threat, Defense Watch, 7/23/04.)
American border patrol agents arrested 158 illegal aliens in Cochise County, Arizona, on 6/13/04. One agent, who speaks Farsi and Arabic, overheard dozens of detainees speaking Arabic in the back of the detention vehicle. He counted 53 of Middle Eastern rather than Hispanic origin. His superiors told him to keep that information to himself; but he reported it to the local newspaper, the Tombstone Tumbleweed.
Just one week later, on June 21, 2004, another group of illegals were apprehended, including 24 Arabic speaking men. But at least as many or more escaped apprehension and disappeared into the United States.
Border Patrol officials deny that there have been any Middle Eastern illegals among those arrested, but individual arresting officers attest to the accuracy of that ethnic description.
Upon deeper investigation, the Tumbleweed editor learned that since October 1, 2003, Arizona border patrol agents have arrested 5,510 illegals from countries other than Mexico, Central and South America. In addition, the arresting officers noted that all of the Middle Eastern illegals sported identical haircuts and moustaches; and while their clothes were the typical illegal immigrant jeans, baseball caps and jerseys, the Middle Easterners all wore brand new clothes, still spiffy looking and clean (quite the opposite of the usual rather frazzled appearance of illegals).
Connecting the Dots:
We are witness to expanding Islamic terrorist bases in South America, operating with almost no interference from, or in collaboration with, the host countries governments; thousands of Arab terrorists training in these bases; and credible evidence that hundreds or even thousands of Arabic speaking illegals have been entering the USA through our porous border with Mexico for almost a year. Given the Border Patrol leaderships refusal to divulge the ethnic or national identities of the 5,510 non-Hispanic detainees, we cannot know how many of these thousands are Arabs.
Why would Middle Eastern terror groups spend untold millions of dollars to set up bases in South America? Certainly to benefit from the drug trade and money-laundering opportunities that lax or corrupt governments afford. Clearly, to attack South American targets (inter alia, Israeli or American embassies, Jewish communities, and/or other institutions that are involved in South American financial, political, or military interaction with the USA). Probably also to facilitate the planning and execution of future terror attacks in South America or abroad.
Why would Arabs enter the United States in such large numbers? At least some of them are likely bona fide terrorists who, once they have eluded the Border Patrol, can connect with established contacts in the American Muslim community and lay the groundwork for future terror attacks within this country. It takes a minimum of five support-staff to launch one terrorist action. How many terror attacks can we expect, now that we know now that hundreds or perhaps thousands of Arab terrorists have entered this country illegally during the past year, and are completely untraceable by law enforcement or military agencies.
Why would hundreds of these Arab terrorists sneak into America illegally via the Mexican border? The credible scenarios are:
These Arabs are known terrorists who could not enter in a simpler and more direct fashion, via our legal ports of entry; or The terror planners and strategists foresee that if our legal ports of entry were suddenly flooded with dozens or hundreds of entrants recognizable as Arabs but bearing legal South American travel documents, our immigration officials might get suspicious. Thus, to infiltrate very large numbers of terrorists into the United States in anticipation of future massive terror assaults, it would be necessary to create a base for the invaders in neighboring safe areas from which large numbers of terrorists could be transported en masse.
Why do the official spokespersons for the Border Patrol in Arizona refuse to acknowledge what their field force tells us? Surely corroboration by several different guards on different occasions warrants public concern.
Why are Border Patrol guards instructed to keep silent about the presence of Arabs and Iranians among the many thousands of non-Hispanic illegal aliens? Surely this unusual and alarming phenomenon merits the scrutiny of the Border Patrols leadership.
Why have no mainstream media outlets publicized this infiltration of terrorists into our country? Surely such a phenomenon is newsworthy.
Once we connect these dots, it becomes obvious that the presence of thousands of Arab terrorists in two separate areas of South America and the illegal entry of hundreds of Arabs via the Mexican border portend massive terror assaults against American and other targets in South America and within this nation.
It does not require much imagination to foresee that the many current Arab terror sleeper cells scattered throughout the USA and Canada today are being re-enforced with the influx of Arab terrorists from South America, an influx of such numbers that normal ports of entry cannot be used.
Can the purpose of this re-enforcement be other than an Arab terrorist plan to mount major attacks on numerous targets throughout North America? Such imaginative terror masterminds as Imad Mughniyyah or Osama bin Laden himself would surely have little difficulty figuring out how to best utilize an untraceable sleeper army of Arab terrorists waiting patiently for the signal to strike at centers of telecommunication, transportation, electric power, and even law enforcement and military bases.
Middle East Terror Groups Find Sanctuary, Revenue in South America
JINSA ^ | January 15, 2004 | Jess Altschul
Posted on January 16, 2004 8:43:29 AM PST by Ooh-Ah
Tri-Border Area Hotbed for Crime-Terror Nexus, Hezbollah Firmly Established
In the frontier town of Ciudad del Este, in February 2003, Paraguayan state security officials raided a store owned by Ali Khalil Mehri, a 32-year old businessman of Lebanese descent. They recovered Hezbollah propaganda and documentation of money transfers to Canada, Chile, the U.S. and Lebanon totaling more than $700,000. Also found were fundraising forms for an organization in the Middle East called Al-Shahid, which is dedicated to the protection of families of martyrs and prisoners. After a thorough investigation, Paraguayan prosecutors charged Mehri with selling millions of dollars of pirated software and channeling the proceeds to the Hezbollah terrorist group. Mehri, released on bail after his arrest, crossed into Brazil and then flew from Sao Paulo to Paris. Authorities now believed he is in Syria.
Mehris arrest was the first major breakthrough in the investigation of illicit Hezbollah activities in the Tri-Border Area, an almost lawless area shared by the cities of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay; Foz do Iguacu, Brazil and Puerto Iguacu, Argentina. The area is known for money laundering, extortion, forgery, prostitution and illegal gambling. It has long been a resting place for drug traffickers and South American terrorist organizations such as the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), but in the past decade or so it has emerged as a hotbed of Islamist terrorism as well.
As of 2002, approximately 630,000 people live in the Tri-Border Area, more than 25,000 are Arabs or of Arab descent. The Brazilian and Paraguayan cities, which are only separated by the short Puente de la Amistad (Friendship Bridge), are areas where the first settlements of immigrants from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and the Palestinian territories emerged about 50 years ago. There is a high level of Islamist political activity in the Tri-Border Area and members of international terrorist organizations, it has been reported, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), al-Fatah, and al-Qaeda have been sighted there.
Regional officials and in several U.S. agencies have also investigated connections between Islamist terrorists and drug trafficking. On May 10, 2003, police in Paraguay arrested Hassan Abdallah Dayoub as he was preparing to ship an electric piano stuffed with more than five pounds of cocaine into Syria. Dayoub is a relative of Assad Ahmad Barakat, the chief Hezbollah operative in South America. He has thus far refused to answer investigators questions about the identity of those with whom he did business.
Due to a crackdown on terrorist funding worldwide and growing international pressure on state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist groups have been turning more and more to drug trafficking to raise funds for their activities. The Taliban earned an estimated $40-50 million per year from taxes related to opium production in Afghanistan. According to the website TerrorismAnswers.org, produced by the Council on Foreign Relations, Hezbollah smuggles cocaine from South America to Europe and the Middle East and has smuggled opiates out of Lebanons Bekaa Valley.
In addition to operating in the Middle East and South America, Islamist terrorists have also been arrested in the U.S. for drug smuggling. In January 2002, the Drug Enforcement Administration apprehended 136 people in Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Fresno and Carlsbad, California in a massive operation that resulted in the seizure of 179 pounds of methamphetamine, 36 tons of the over-the-counter cold medicine ingredient pseudoephedrine (which is often used to make the illegal drug methamphetamine), $4.5 million in cash, eight pieces of property and 160 automobiles. The raid prompted an investigation that yielded the first evidence of a direct flow of money from drugs in the U.S. to Islamist terrorism in the Middle East. In addition, federal agents announced in early 2002 that they have exposed an effort involving legal immigrants and visitors to use credit card thefts, cigarette sales, charitable funds and cash smuggled in airline luggage to supply funds to anti-American and anti-Israeli terrorist groups operating in the Middle East.
Islamist terrorists operating in the South American drug trade is not a new topic on Capitol Hill. In a May 2003, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) brought up Dayoubs arrest in Paraguay, saying that it demonstrates the narco-terrorist financing operations needed to support Barakat and Hezbollah. Hatch elaborated that the Tri-Border Area has long been characterized as a regional hub for radical Islamic groups, which engage in arms and drug trafficking, contraband smuggling, money laundering and movement of pirated goods.
In an October 2002 interview on the National Public Radio show On Point, Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, emphasized his belief that the war against Saddam Husseins regime should be followed up with a strike on Syrian training camps and the Iranians who finance Hezbollah. He said the three reasons he sees Hezbollah and its supporters as a greater immediate threat than Iraq are:
Hezbollahs enthusiasm to kill Americans (previous to September 11, 2001, more Americans had died at the hands of Hezbollah terrorists than any other group);
The groups access to funds and resources, and;
Their presence in the U.S.
In September 2002, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage declared that Hezbollah would eventually become a U.S. target, to which Hezbollahs spokesman, Hassan Ezzeddin, replied The American administration will be held accountable for any offensive against Lebanon, and we emphasize that we are in full readiness to confront any eventuality and defend our people.
Jeffrey Goldberg, author of In the Party of God, which appeared in The New Yorker in October 2002, was also a guest on the radio show. Goldberg spent over a month in the Middle East and three weeks in the Tri-Border Area researching Hezbollah and their international funding and activities. He recounted crossing the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay with extreme ease, and being offered an AK-47 rifle for $375. The price even included a hotel delivery. When he asked about acquiring explosives, he was told that was also possible.
In the Party of God details how terrorist organizations make money from even legitimate businesses in the area. The Islamic fundamentalists extort business owners and force them to make a monthly donation - one that will save their shop and family from possible harm. Investigators in South America believe that over the past few years, Islamist terrorists have raised tens of millions of dollars - one Paraguayan official even told Goldberg that in one year Hezbollah raised $12 million in the Tri-Border Area alone. In addition, Paraguay has no anti-terror law, which in many countries allows for the seizure of terrorist funds and bans donations to terrorist organizations. The lack of such a law makes donating money to a terrorist organization in the Tri-Border Area as easy as donating to the Red Cross is in the U.S.
The absence of anti-terror laws makes it almost impossible for U.S. and regional authorities to arrest suspects. Because the organization and channeling of money is similar to the way organized crime operated in the 1930s in the U.S., the only charge officials can try to arrest the terrorists on is tax evasion. In addition, many officials believe that Paraguay in particular is extremely hesitant to prosecute or conduct investigations into Middle Eastern terrorists because the Tri-Border Area is the largest center of commerce in the country and the Arab community there is often described as the pillar of economic activity. If the Arab community abandons the region en masse, Paraguays already unstable economy would further deteriorate.
Paraguay is the one country of the three that has done the least to curb Islamist terrorists in the area because of the massive corruption at even the highest levels of the government. In the article Paraguays Ciudad del Este and the New Centers of Gravity by Colonel William W. Mendel, U.S. Army (ret.), published in the March-April 2002 issue of Military Review, the journal of the U.S. Armys Command and General Staff College, Paraguayan police estimate that about 70 percent of the 600,000 cars in Paraguay were purchased on the black market, with at least a portion of the profits likely going to terrorist groups.
Corruption runs to the topmost ranks of government in Paraguay. Court officials and police say that even the Presidents BMW and his wifes Mercedes were purchased on the black market and were probably stolen. Both cars claimed the same title document, which was issued for a Toyota. And, in September 2001, the Paraguayan consul in Miami was arrested for selling over 300 passports and visas since 1999.
Many believe the U.S. has not done enough in the Tri-Border Area to halt the terrorism. According to Jonathan Goldberg (no relation to Jeffrey Goldberg), in his December, 2002 article Blind Eye in The American Prospect, the U.S. agenda for the region puts fiscal crises, trade negotiations, and local terrorist groups such as the FARC above Islamist terrorism. And although the DEA and State Department have representatives investigating drug-related activity in the Tri-Border Area and throughout Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, little attention is paid to the corruption within the highest ranks of the governments. Meanwhile, according to Juan Belikow, a professor at Argentinas School of National Defense, Islamist terrorists and their supporters in South America are branching out into other regions such as Panamas Colon Free Trade Zone, Iquique, Chile; Maicao, Colombia; and Chui, Brazil.
Al Qaeda and Hezbollah Plot a Dangerous Alliance
DefenseWatch ^ | 01-01-03 | Tom Knowlton
Posted on January 1, 2003 8:52:49 AM PST by Conservative News Hound
Al Qaeda and Hezbollah Plot a Dangerous Alliance
By Tom Knowlton
In an interview with The Sunday Times of London on Dec. 15, 2002, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat unwittingly provided the U.S.-led coalition against terrorism with a major insight into the evolving strategy of Osama bin Ladens al Qaeda terrorist network.
Arafat asked Times interviewer Marie Colvin, Why is Bin Laden talking about Palestine now? Bin Laden never, not ever, stressed this issue. He never helped us. He was working in a completely different area and against our interests.
Arafat gave the interview after statements attributed to al Qaedas Political Office of Qaeda al-Jihad were published on the Islamic extremist web sites www.azfalrasa.com and www.mojahedoon.net, claiming responsibility for Novembers bomb attacks on an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, Kenya and an unsuccessful missile attack against an Israeli civilian airliner departing Mombasa for Tel Aviv. The statements also announced the launch of an Islamic al Qaeda Organization in Palestine that would serve as a powerful basis for restoring the rights of our Arab and Islamic people in Palestine.
In todays world arena, Islamic terror leaders such as Arafat and bin Laden utilize false piety and liberation movements to attract disciples and mask their own personal aspirations for power. But it seems highly unlikely that these two megalomaniacs, who seem more comfortable performing in front of a camera than behind a gun, could ever amicably share the limelight of the Palestinian cause.
There is little love lost between the two terror kingpins. Arafat and bin Laden are in fierce competition for the financial backing of Sunni Muslim extremists, a competition bin Laden has been steadily winning since Arafats support of Saddam Husseins 1990 invasion of Kuwait and his signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 angered jihadist supporters in the Persian Gulf states.
Strategically, there is very little that either Arafat or bin Laden would substantively gain from an alliance. Aligning with bin Laden would only serve to further alienate Arafat and the Palestinian Authority from the United States. And while Palestinian terrorists have shown that they are willing to turn themselves into human bombs, they have not evidenced any of the sophistication and planning that has been the trademark of al Qaeda operations.
Many analysts feel that engaging in the Palestinian cause is an attempt by bin Laden to co-opt the movement away from the foundering Arafat and to solidify al Qaeda as a global front for Islamic action in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chechnya and Israel.
However, Arafats comments appear indicative of the fact that al Qaeda had not planned the Kenya attacks in coordination with, nor made any overtures to, any of the leading Sunni Muslim terrorist organizations engaged in attacks on Israel.
What appears most likely is that the entry of al Qaeda into the Palestinian fray is a byproduct of growing ties between al Qaeda and the Iranian and Syrian-backed Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah.
Despite common foes, Sunni and Shiite Muslims are separated by a deep-seated, faith-based animosity and a history of cultural conflict that dates back to a 7th century religious schism in Islam. Hezbollahs close dealing with Sunni Palestinian terrorists has been a noticeable exception.
With a U.S.-Iraq war now becoming a near certainty, the Bush administration has actively courted Iranian cooperation (or at least neutrality), and turned a blind eye towards that rogue nations own program to develop weapons of mass destruction. Iran has a far more advanced and dynamic nuclear program than its axis of evil counterparts, Iraq and North Korea, and an ongoing long-range missile program. However, Iran has not been the focus of military action or international isolation like its counterparts.
This soft handling has not gone unnoticed by hard-liners in Tehran and has translated into a proliferation in Hezbollah activity in Lebanon, Israel, Europe and South America. An alliance between Hezbollah and al Qaeda brings to the Intifadah (Palestinian uprising), a level of sophistication, planning, training and global reach that has been noticeable absent from Sunni Palestinian terrorism and significantly raises the operational tempo of terrorist forces arrayed against Israel.
More importantly to Hezbollah, the alliance provides the Shiite terrorist organization with a proxy by which to attack the United States. During this years annual Jerusalem Day parade in Lebanon, the secretary general of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, denounced what he perceived as the United States plan to control the region, to redraw the political map of the region and criticized the dangerous and satanic goals of the United States and Israel.
Clearly, Hezbollahs leadership sees the growing war on terrorism as the first major threat to the radical Islamic stranglehold on Lebanon since the withdrawal of American troops in the 1980s and Israeli troops in May 2000.
Conceivably, it would be in Hezbollahs interest to maintain the focus of the war on terrorism on Sunni extremists. They will likely seek to accomplish this task by putting aside ideological differences and assist in rejuvenating an al Qaeda network - severely hobbled by the loss of bases in Afghanistan - and its surviving financial, logistical and operational cells worldwide.
U.S. and Israeli intelligence sources believe that the guiding hand behind such an alliance would be Hezbollahs Imad Mugniyeh, the alleged mastermind behind the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine base in Beirut, Lebanon, and a key facilitator of Islamic terrorism worldwide.
An alliance with Hezbollah would provide al Qaeda with vital access to one of the worlds most prolific drug production and smuggling networks, an ominous development for the United States and the West.
During his January 2002 State of the Union speech, President Bush identified Iran, Iraq and North Korea as rogue nations who constituted an axis of evil which provide terrorists the means to match their hatred. The United States has effectively applied international pressure, the threat of military action, and the implementation of aggressive means of financial interdiction to stymie the flow of resources to al Qaeda from its state sponsors.
However, a network of drug production and smuggling controlled largely by Hezbollah may provide al Qaeda with the means necessary to continue its inhuman campaign against civilization. This network is centered on a transnational triangle of illicit activity conducted from areas of Lebanon, the Balkans, and the tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
All three regions have unstable, often corrupt, government structures with weak economic platforms. Their porous borders and largely unsupervised waterways and airfields are highly conducive to the conducting of illicit operations that go undetected.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah utilized the Bekaa Valley region to produce and smuggle opiates and hashish into Europe until international pressure prompted Syria to institute an aggressive counter-narcotics program in 1992. After the U.S. liberation of Afghanistan in 2001, Syria effectively ended its efforts to deter cultivation or to eradicate illicit cultivation.
A U.S. State Department report on drug trafficking released in early 2002 stated that unlike in recent years, Syria did not use its influence in Lebanon to assist Lebanon in suppressing cannabis cultivation and harvesting in the Bekaa Valley. Moreover, the report identified that this fact led to a sharp increase in hashish production in Lebanon, and estimated that over 4,010 hectares of land was being used for hashish production.
In the Balkans, a prolific drug-smuggling operation is being conducted along the Balkan Road running through the fluid borders of Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. The Balkan Road is considered the doorway to Europe and North America and accounts for over 80 percent and 40 percent, respectively, of the continents heroin trade.
On Sept. 17, 2002, a Debka-Net-Weekly report (Socialist-Albanian Election Win Leaves Macedonians in Pit of Despair) identified a 1,400-square-mile enclave in Macedonia running from Crna Gora and Sar Plan (near Tetovo) in the north to the divided lake districts of Ohrid and Pripsankso Ezero in the south that is controlled by Islamic drug lords aligned with Imad Mughniyeh. Western intelligence sources believe that Mughniyeh has long viewed the Balkans as the gateway to an Islamic conquest of Europe and utilized Albania and Kosovo as the main base for Islamic armed action in Europe.
As in Afghanistan, the armed Islamic militants guarding this operation are former U.S. allies, primarily the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) - renamed the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) after the NATO-Serbian conflict in the spring of 1999 - and its Macedonian counterpart, the National Liberation Army (NLA), which both have a long history of smuggling drugs as a means of raising funds for weapons. According to the France-based Geopolitical Observatory of Drugs, the KLA was responsible for smuggling over $2 billion in drugs into Western Europe. Janes Intelligence Review estimates that the KLAs profit from these ventures is in the high tens of millions.
The tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, has been identified by the U.S. State Department as a focal point for Islamic extremism in Latin America and represents a major hemispheric threat to the United States. Hezbollah has maintained an active and growing presence in the region and is believed responsible for at least two attacks in Buenos Aires; the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy and the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center.
The Latin American center of Hezbollahs narco-terrorism is the Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este, under the operational command of successful businessman Assad Ahmad Barakat. Barakats chief aide, Sobhi Mahmoud Fayad, was arrested in 1998 for an alleged conspiracy to bomb the U.S. embassy in Paraguay, and again in 2002 for alleged participation in a money-laundering ring.
Drug-trafficking routes through the tri-border region have brought Hezbollah into close contact with the powerful drug lords throughout the Andean region of Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. Virtually all of the worlds cocaine production is conducted in these three countries and it is believed that collective synergies have been developed between Islamic terrorists and Latin American narco-terrorists such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Perus Shinning Path.
Ali Mohamed Mukhlis, a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and closely linked to top al Qaeda lieutenant Ayman al Zawahiri, heralded an al Qaeda presence in the tri-border region when he was apprehended by Uruguayan authorities in 1999 in connection with a plot to bomb the U.S. Embassies in Paraguay and Uruguay. Authorities linked Mukhlis to an operational cell in Ciudad del Este.
The combination of illicit narcotics and terrorism is an alluring proposition for al Qaeda.
First, the financial windfall of the drug trade is highly lucrative. The Golden Crescent countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan, bin Ladens former lair of choice, are the worlds largest producers of heroin, growing in excess of $50 billion in street value annually - over 70 percent of the worlds heroin supply. The al Qaeda-Taliban regime had actually formalized the revenue-generating aspect of opium production in Afghanistan by imposing a ten percent zakat (tax) on all opium transactions.
Denied access to their former Afghan bases and with state sponsorship of terrorism aggressively scrutinized and financial institutions being closely monitored, drug trafficking presents a viable alternative form of financing for al Qaeda.
Second, there is a highly synergistic effect in an alliance between terrorists and drug lords. Traffickers and terrorists have parallel logistical needs in terms of weapons, fraudulent documents and the covert movement of operative, shipments and funds.
The smuggling routes through Lebanon, the Balkans and South America traverse highly volatile regions and face the increasing specter of government interdiction. Drug traffickers benefit from the military expertise and equipment that terrorist organizations are able wield in defense of these coveted routes
On March 13, 2002, Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Rand Beers provided testimony on the benefits to terrorists from this symbiotic relationship before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information.
Beers explained that not only do terrorists gain a source of revenue, but also equally important, they acquire a means of illicit transfer and laundering of proceeds from illicit transactions. Moreover, the drug trade often ensnares corruptible officials who can provide access to fraudulent documents, including passports and customs papers.
Officials at the U.S. Immigration and Nationalization Service have expressed concern that a growing Islamic presence in Latin America may lead to ties with criminal organizations in Mexico that have proven highly successful in smuggling people and materials undetected into the United States.
Finally, al Qaeda would seek to strategically weaken Western society through the flooding of North America and Europe with illicit drugs.
Western analysts believe that Hezbollah, which receives significant amounts of overt military and financial aid from Iran and Syria, is involved in drug trafficking predominantly for the purpose of the facilitating the fall of the West through drug addiction.
Osama bin Laden has on several occasions advocated the use of opiates to weaken the West. It is this strategy that wreaked havoc on the Soviet military during the Soviet-Afghan War and strongly contributed to their defeat.
By the end of the Soviet-Afghan War in February 1989, the Afghan guerilla groups were producing more heroin than major illicit drug producers Iran and Pakistan combined. The result was a flooding of the Soviet Union and Europe with high quality, low-cost narcotics. Soviet Afghan War veteran Lt. Col. Yuri Shvedov claimed the Soviets had found significant evidence that this was the product of a systematic program. Rampant drug addiction in the Soviet forces in Afghanistan translated into a dramatic drop in morale and operational efficiency that later led to a crippling drug problem within the Soviet Union itself.
The mounting evidence of an al Qaeda-Hezbollah alliance should be of paramount concern to the Bush administration. The synergies created by the alliance will significantly raise the operational capabilities of terrorist forces and infuse bin Ladens global terror cooperative with crucial funding. Already in the fall of 2002 we have seen the reemergence of a reinvigorated al Qaeda manifested in attacks in Indonesia, Kuwait, Yemen and Kenya.
The lines between traditional terrorism and drug trafficking are becoming increasingly blurred, signaling a possible convergence of the drug war and the war on terrorism. Islamic terrorists are forming symbiotic relationships with narcotics traffickers in urban and quasi-urban regions in the Third World such as Lebanon, the Balkans and Latin America, where Western governments have been traditionally reluctant to enter into military action.
As retired Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski pointed out during an interview with The Navy Times on Nov. 12, 2002, by not engaging terrorists in these regions we are essentially providing them with sanctuary, which is unacceptable.
The Fire Down South...( Latin America)
various links | 10-24-02 | The Heavy Equipment Guy
ADDING on to posts no. 23, 24, 25:
(MySA.com - EXPRESS-NEWS)
“Iran Making Push into Nicaragua” by Todd Bensman
(December 8, 2007)
(INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY)
“The Skunk is Back in Nicaragua”
(December 19, 2007)