Jim Kouri
Iranian presence in Latin America disturbs Pentagon
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By Jim Kouri
June 9, 2009

Terrorist-sponsoring nation Iran is increasing its presence in Latin America, and Hezbollah, a terrorist organization it sponsors, is making inroads in drug trafficking in Colombia, according to Pentagon spokesperson Donna Miles in a press statement to the National Association of Chiefs of Police.

During a recent congressional hearing, Navy Admiral James G. Stavridis told the House Armed Services Committee that he shares the concerns of Defense Secretary Robert Gates about Iranian activity in Central and South America.

Iran has opened six embassies in the region during the past five years and is promoting Islamic activities in the region, according to Miles.

"That is of concern, principally because of the connection between the government of Iran, which is a state sponsor of terrorism, and Hezbollah," Stavridis told the panel of Congressman.

"We see a great deal of Hezbollah activity throughout South America, in particular," he said.

Much of that activity takes place in the tri-border area of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, and in the Caribbean, an area previously pinpointed by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace (USMC-Ret) in a similar congressional hearing.

Recently, a number of armed gunmen entered the US from Mexico and caused National Guard troops to retreat. Not only did the President and his administration remain silent about this incursion, but the elite media either ignored the story or minimized its significance.

"Most government and news reports of the illegal aliens' confrontation with the Guard troops appear to assume the invading gunmen were Mexican. But with all involved in the investigation of the incident saying they're not certain who these armed men were, how do we know they weren't terrorists conducting a recon mission?" asks former New York City Police detective Ben Cardoza

Stavridis noted in his written statement that the Pentagon supported a Drug Enforcement Administration operation in the tri-border area last August that targeted a Hezbollah-connected drug trafficking organization.

Two months later, officials from the US Southern Command supported another interagency operation in which several dozen people were arrested in Colombia for ties to a Hezbollah-connected drug trafficking and money laundering ring.

Despite big successes in professionalizing the Colombian military and helping it deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Southcom has witnessed a direct connection there between Hezbollah and drug trafficking in Colombia, Stavridis stated.

He asserted that a direct link exists between the illicit drug trade and the terrorist groups it bankrolls, noting the threat posed by Islamic radical terrorism.

"Indentifying, monitoring and dismantling the financial, logistical and communication linkages between illicit trafficking groups and terrorist sponsors are critical to not only ensuring early indications and warnings of potential terrorist attacks directed at the United States and our partners, but also in generating a global appreciation and acceptance of this tremendous threat to security," he said while testifying.

Stavridis called Colombia the major global source of cocaine and home of the FARC pivotal in the fight to stop illicit traffickers at the source and advocated continued support to Colombia to help it in this endeavor will pay big dividends for the region and for the United States, he said.

Border Patrol agents continue to voice what many believe are legitimate concerns about "armed incursions" into the United States from Mexico-based assailants. They reported that heavily armed Mexican army units and federal police, called Federales, had infiltrated US territory and fired upon them, in some cases because federal agents would later discover Mexican drug lords had put prices on the heads of American law-enforcement agents serving along the border.

"Where was the outrage by our political leaders and the mainstream media over this blatant violation of our national sovereignty?" asks Det. Cardoza.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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