Chavez Provides Fertile Soil for Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaeda

Posted by Nicole Ferrand Jul 13th 2010 at 2:47 am

Hezbollah has had a presence in Latin America since the late 1980’s, particularly in the Tri-Border Region, where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina meet. But since Hugo Chavez’s ascension to power in Venezuela in 1999, Hezbollah and Hamas’ activities have increased in the region. Hezbollah, Hamas and al-Qaeda are using Venezuela as their bridge to other Latin American countries.

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In Latin America, Hezbollah activities are financed mainly by drug trafficking, money laundering and terrorism. The group also engages in fund-raising, recruitment and receives logistical support from Iranian intelligence officials assigned to Iranian embassies in the region. Some direct financing for Hezbollah originates in Venezuela, in Margarita Island and the Lebanese branch of the Hezbollah organization has publicly expressed gratitude to Hugo Chavez for his support. In addition, the US military’s Southern Command has reported that there are several Hezbollah support and logistics cells on this Island.

There is also a banking connection between Venezuela and Iran where the Iranian Bank Saderat and its Venezuelan affiliate Banco Internacional de Desarrollo, BID, operate to circumvent U.S. supervision. The connection also serves as a pipeline for terrorists coming from Iran through Venezuela, where they are provided with false Venezuelan documents. In fact, in June 2008, the US Treasury department named a Venezuelan diplomat in Damascus as a Hezbollah fundraiser. Ghazi Nasr al Din, former Charge d’ Affaires at the Venezuelan Embassy in Damascus, gave Hezbollah donors information on bank accounts where the deposits would go directly to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah Latin America has two cells: one in Venezuela and the other in Argentina. In Venezuela, its members are from the Wayuu tribe, a small indigenous group that converted to Islam a few years ago. In Argentina, the group has direct ties to Iran through the Arab Argentine Home and the Argentine-Islamic Association-ASAI of La Plata, which cooperate and are financed by the Iranian Representation in Buenos Aires.

The leaders of Iran and Venezuela have created an impressive network of trade and international influence. Whether the funding goes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Hezbollah, the purchase of Latin American politicians, or the further consolidation of Chavez’s power at home, this mobilization of strategic advantage has reached a global status in international finance.

Venezuelan investigative journalist, Patricia Poleo, who escaped Venezuela and currently lives in Miami says that Venezuelan government officials are in charge of recruiting young Venezuelan Arabs affiliated with Chavez’s Socialist Party, to be sent to South Lebanon for combat training in Hezbollah camps. Once back in Venezuela, they continue with their training in firearms, explosives and munitions. The training camps are located in the states of Monagas, Miranda, el Páramo, Falcon, Yaracuy, Yumare, and Trujillo and the districts of Maturin, Los Teques, El Jari, Churuguara and Sierra de San Luis. These groups and individuals are supervised by the Hezbollah Organization in Venezuela, along with al-Qaeda Iraqis currently living in the country and by the Palestinian Democratic Front, headed by Salid Ahmed Rahman, whose office is located in Caracas’s Central Park.

The U.S Administration needs to pay attention to these developments. Soon, we will wake up to the day where we will find the nightmare not in Iraq or in Central Asia, but right here in our own backyard.

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