“No idea who was either trying to reach out to me Tuesday evening… or tying to get as close as they can in person… considering we’re on the brink of the biggest conflict of the 21st century, MI5 should really have them tracked down and identified!… quite possibly one of the usual pathetic gang stalkers, but at this time?”
From Lebanon to Latin America, Hezbollah helps Iran spread global terrorism
The United States is conducting increased investigations and prosecutions against alleged Hezbollah facilitators across the continent, and the effort has been welcomed by those who understand the gravity of threats posed there.
It has been 25 years since Iran and Hezbollah carried out a horrific attack against a Jewish target in Buenos Aires, Argentina in which 85 Jews were murdered and more than 300 injured, yet the terror regime and its proxy continues to operate freely in Latin America. Now, in a renewed effort, some influential American leaders are working to convince area nations to take a stand and expel terrorists stationed in the region.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended a Latin America counter-terrorism conference last week that focused on Iran and Hezbollah and coincided with the date of the bombing at the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) building on July 18, 1994. At the commemoration, Pompeo blamed Iran for causing the death of so many victims, saying, “They were killed by members of a terrorist group, Hezbollah, and had help that day from Iran.”
The US focus on Iran and Hezbollah has been welcomed by those who understand the gravity of the threat they pose in Latin America.
Emmanuel Navon, a foreign-policy expert at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, told JNS that he was pleased the Americans are finally discussing this.
Navon said the Obama administration “kind of looked the other way in order to sign a deal with Iran because one of the conditions to sign the JCPOA in 2015 was not to lift a finger on its presence and the presence of its proxy Hezbollah in South America. According to many reports, [President Barack] Obama agreed to that.”
“Of course, the current administration has a completely different approach having pulled out of the deal, and is much more determined to fight the Iranian and Hezbollah presence in South America,” he noted.
‘A year of diplomacy working with Argentina’
Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who is focused on Hezbollah’s Latin America illicit threat networks, told JNS that the United States is more significantly involved than it has been in a long time.
Ottolenghi noted that the summit that Pompeo attended “is the result of a long year of patient diplomacy working with Argentina,” which just this month froze Hezbollah’s assets, essentially designating it a terrorist organization. “There is also, of course, hope and work being done to see that other countries in the region will do the same. It’s not a one-off.”
Additionally, Ottolenghi said that the United States is also involved by “investing in training, dialogue and cooperation between law enforcement and judicial branches of government in the region to help those countries understand the problem better, recognize it and take more decisive action.”
He added that the United States is also conducting increased investigations and prosecutions against alleged Hezbollah facilitators in Latin America.
“When you take these three things – the political, the capacity-building and the prosecution, the investigative side – you definitely have a lot more [American] attention than you have ever had before,” said Ottolenghi.
At the same time, the situation in Venezuela surrounding the Nicolás Maduro regime and the challenge that he faces from opposition leader Juan Guaidó, have given hope to some who want to see an ally in place who can help push out Iran and Hezbollah from the region altogether.
Arie Kacowicz, from the Hebrew University’s Department of International Relations, told JNS that Maduro’s regime “is a kind of criminal regime that has networks and relations with Hezbollah.”
He said it makes sense for Israel to align itself with other Western liberal democracies in Europe, and not only with the United States, to support Guaidó and the opposition in their attempt to change the regime in Venezuela by peaceful means. Kacowicz pointed out that “the unseating of the Maduro regime might mean a relative failure for the presence of Hezbollah in Latin America.”
Turning to Israel, Ottolenghi said that the Israeli government has sought to build better relations with regional governments for years and has succeeded so far with some Central American countries.
He pointed out that Israel does not have as many resources to invest in Latin America as the United States does, “so there is a challenge in the ability of Israel to do more on this front.”
He added that there is “more action on the law-enforcement level of cooperation to try and go after the main source of Hezbollah’s finances in Latin America, which is cooperation with the cartels, money-laundering and drug-trafficking.”
Navon said the Jewish nation is in touch with friendly governments, such as Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, to fight Hezbollah especially in the tri-border area of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, and, of course, coordinates that with the Trump administration.
Nevertheless, a major obstacle to fighting Iran and Hezbollah lies with the unwillingness of the European Union to recognize Hezbollah for the terror organization that it is.
Ottolenghi said that the European Union looks at Hezbollah’s military and political wings as two separate entities, “which, in fact, they are not,” he adamantly said.
He noted, however, that the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have indeed designated Hezbollah as a terror organization in its entirety. “Obviously, if the EU could up the ante, that would be good,” he said.
Moving forward, there is still some hope to get the Europeans on board. Germany has recently discussed blacklisting Hezbollah, and there is a growing recognition that a lot of these drug-trafficking networks that bring cocaine mainly from Latin America rely on Lebanese criminals to launder money and growing recognition that some of these people may be connected to Hezbollah.”
Iran’s ‘proxy’ terror army with cells ready to strike across West EXPOSED
IRAN has a massive network of terrorist cells which are ready to step up attacks in the worsening crisis in the Middle East, Daily Star Online can reveal.
Iranian opposition activists and security analysts have revealed the extent of the terrorist groups linked to the regime in Tehran.
Operations linked to Iran reach deep into Europe and in the US as part of the regime’s use of “proxy” terrorist groups.
And all of these are overseen by the military group known as the Quds Force, watched over by the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) – an opposition group which advocates the overthrow of the regime – warned the worsening political situation will see more use of these so-called proxies.
Security intelligence group StratFor also earlier this year detailed the spread of these forces – with Iran believed to have linked forces in at least six countries in the Middle East.
It comes as tensions flare in the Middle East as the dissolution of the so-called nuclear deal has paved the way for a new tanker war in the Strait of Hormuz.
“The proxy groups have been engaged in terror acts, bombings, car bombs, firing missiles and similar acts”Shahin Gobadi
Shahin Gobadi, spokesman for the PMOI, warned we can see a “stepping up” of Iranian terrorist activity as the regime is “facing crises from all directions”.
He told Daily Star Online: “In this situation, the mullahs’ only solution is resorting to stepped-up suppression, more arrests, more terrorism and extremist measures abroad to maintain the regime’s balance and to prevent the situation from further deteriorating.
“Export of extremism, terrorism, and belligerence in the region have been a pillar of survival of the clerical regime for the past 40 years.
“This pillar has complimented the other pillar, total repression and suppression.
“These two constitute the main pillars of the clerical regime based on the concept of ‘Velayat-e-faqih’, or the absolute rule of the religious leader.”
REVOLUTIONARY GUARD: Iran’s powerful religious army oversees the so-called proxies (Pic: GETTY)
Iran’s so-called Quds Force – under command of General Qassem Soleimani – reports directly to the supreme leader of fundamentalist regime, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
It is estimated the force is up to 20,000 strong and is understood to be responsible for supporting and training proxy groups worldwide.
Stratfor’s analysis from earlier this year points to Iranian proxy forces being directly involved in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza.
And it marked out Iran providing material support for forces in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Afghanistan, Lebanon.
Terror plots and surveillance linked to Iran stretch much further than the Middle East, reaching into Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa.
TENSIONS: Iran seized the Stena Impero as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz (Pic: GETTY)
Iranian proxies have linked to incidents in France, Denmark, Germany, the US, Argentina, Thailand, Nigeria and more.
“Iran’s embassies, intelligence networks and proxies give it a global reach,” StratFor said in analysis of the ongoing tensions with US.
It is also believed Iranian proxies have been responsible for six attacks on shipping in the Strait of Hormuz amid the new tanker wars.
PMOI officials also estimated they believe Iran is now linked to training foreign mercenaries as part of the proxes.
And one of the largest groups linked to the Iranian regime is the Lebanese Hezbollah, which is linked to attacks on US forces in the 1980s.
Gobadi told Daily Star Online it is estimated that the Iranian regime continues to hand around $1 billion every year to Hezbollah.
“Hezbollah has played a key role in the regime’s terrorism even outside of the Middle East,” he said.
“Hezbollah explicitly confessed that Iran provides everything, from money to weapons, ammunition, food, and clothing to Hezbollah and that without the clerical regime in Iran, Hezbollah cannot continue its survival.”
Iran is also linked to the ongoing war in Yemen, with the regime believed by the PMOI to be supporting Houthi rebels who have staged numerous attacks on Saudi Arabia.
“It provides them with missiles and other weapons and equipment,” Gobadi said.
“In addition to warfare, the proxy groups have been engaged in terror acts, bombings, car bombs, firing missiles and similar acts that result in heightened tensions in the region.”
TERROR NETWORK: Iran has forces dedicated to training terrorist soldiers (Pic: GETTY)
British security sources warned earlier this year about the ongoing threat from the Iranian proxies as the UK is drawn into the row in the Middle East.
Tensions have flared between Britain and Iran after a tit-for-tat tanker seizure which has led to two Royal Navy warships being deployed to the Persian Gulf.
Security sources told the Telegraph: ““Iran uses proxies and they have control of a network of individuals linked to Hezbollah.
“Iran has Hezbollah operatives in position to carry out a terrorist attack in the event of a conflict. That is the nature of the domestic threat Iran poses to the UK.”
Iranian terrorist groups have also been linked to the cyber attacks on UK infrastructure – including on MPs in 2017 and on government email servers in 2018.
OPPOSITION: Shahin Gobadi warned the regime will continue to use proxy attacks (Pic: GETTY)
Gobadi told Daily Star Online the rise of the proxies can be linked to the Iraq War in 2003, which “opened the doors to the regime as a gateway to the rest of the region”.
“The expansion of the regime’s conduct in the region did not stem from its strength and prowess. Rather it was the consequence of the weak approach of the international community,” he said.
He also claimed that “until two years ago, [the Iranian regime] paid no price for its outlaw conduct” – which is helping to fuel the expansion of the proxies.
More sanctions must be placed on the leadership of the Iranian regime and they should be designated as “terrorists”, Gobadi added.
“The ultimate solution is regime change by the Iranian people and the Resistance. The West should recognize the right of the people of Iran and the Resistance for regime change and should stand on their side.
“The clerical regime has never been as weak as today, and the prospect of its overthrow has never been so close. “
TANKER WAR: Iran is accused of using proxies to bomb tankers in the Strait of Hormuz (Pic: GETTY)
Tensions have heightened in recent months as Iran is accused of attempting to disrupt global oil markets by locking down the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran has been accused of staging attacks on tankers, but Tehran denies any involvement despite the finger being squarely pointed by Washington.
It also shot down a US drone – nearly prompting a limited strike by the Pentagon before an 11th hour U-turn by Trump.
And causing further tensions, Iran has broken the binds placed on its enrichment of uranium by the nuclear deal.
Tehran has said the measures are just for power plant fuel, and will not be used for the development of nukes.
ESCORT: HMS Montrose protects British shipping amid tensions in the Gulf (Pic: MOD)
Trump’s administration argues the deal was too soft on Iran and it didn’t impact its missile programme of sponsor of terrorism.
Iran has said it wants to continue to abide by the agreement but cannot do so indefinitely if US sanctions prevent it from receiving any of the promised economic benefits.
Britain’s new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has inherited the crisis as tensions rise in the Middle East.
HMS Duncan and HMS Montrose have been given instructions to escort all British shipping in the Strait of Hormuz amid fears of further seizures after the capture of Stena Impero.
US officials called on Britain, France and Germany to join a naval task force to secure shipping in the Persian Gulf.