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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Hezbollah, Illegal Immigration, and the Next 9/11

As I've said many times, Hezbullah isn't just after Israel - they're also after the United States. One of the ways they are trying to carry out terror attacks in the United States is by smuggling in operatives through Mexico - something that largely appears to be ignored in the debates over President Bush's immigration bill.

Because this article is very long, I'm only going to give you excerpts. But I would suggest that all of you read it in full.

AUTHORS NOTE: This article was prepared and approved before the London Times report this past weekend which verified that longtime Hezbollah terror chief, Imad Mugniyah, has been tapped by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to initiate attacks against the West, especially the U.S., in the event that any preemptive strikes are made against Iran's nuclear facilities. In the following article we identify Mugniyah and his extensive role in a number of attacks on Americans since the 1980s and have assumed that any action taken by Hezbollah would be directed by Mugniyah, but this new supporting information was important enough and directly relevant to the discussion at hand to warrant us including this author’s note to call our reader's attention to it. This new report reinforces our argument made here that Hezbollah and its operations inside America and throughout Latin America pose an immediate national security risk that should be among the primary topics of consideration in the ongoing border security debate.


Most notably, last month FBI Director Robert Mueller testified to Congress that his agency had dismantled a Hezbollah smuggling operation bringing terror personnel across the border from Mexico.“[T]his was an occasion in which Hezbollah operatives were assisting others with some association with Hezbollah in coming to the United States,” Mueller said. “That was an organization that we dismantled and identified those persons who had been smuggled in. And they have been addressed as well.”

While the FBI believes that the national security threat from this particular Hezbollah operation has been neutralized, there are many questions that should be asked:

1. What is the level of threat Hezbollah presents to American interests at home and abroad?
2. What are the indicators that Hezbollah is preparing terrorist or military operations inside the U.S. Homeland?
3. What is the size, location, and capabilities of Hezbollah cells in the U.S.?
4. Who are the leaders of U.S. cells and subordinate cell members?
5. What are the personal and professional connections/relationships with Hezbollah leaders abroad?
6. What are their means of communications and what languages (Persian, Arabic, French, Spanish, English) are spoken?
7. What targets would Hezbollah consider or select? -- synagogues, churches, transportation hubs, schools, power plants, malls, financial centers, government facilities, military facilities, aircraft....
8. Are their indicators of reconnaissance, surveillance, plans, or patterns of activities?
9. Have any members or sympathizers penetrated local or state police, FBI, Customs/Border Patrol, national intelligence organizations?
10. Where are the training locations in the U.S.; in Latin America and the Caribbean, in the Middle East?
11. What are the types of training received; duration of training; levels of competence achieved?
12. What types of equipment, technology and weapons are acquired in the U.S.; acquired abroad and brought into the U.S.? Are their active sources of supply?
13. Where are the logistics and support cells; in the US or Latin America and the Caribbean?
14. Are they receiving third country assistance from Syria, Venezuela or Cuba?
15. What are the likely methods of attack: suicide bombings, car bombs, conventional assaults, aircraft hijacking, CBRN, nuclear weapon?


Hezbollah’s deadly network isn’t limited to the Middle East. In fact, in the past 20 years Hezbollah has created an extensive web of operations within the United States itself – a sophisticated terror network better established here than any other terrorist organization in the world. The network is organized and directed by Hezbollah’s Special Security Apparatus, the group’s international terror unit.

According to Tom Diaz and Barbara Newman, co-authors of the recently published book, Lightning Out of Lebanon: Hezbollah Terrorists on American Soil (Presidio Press, 2005), active Hezbollah cells have been identified in Boston, New York, Newark, Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, Charlotte, Louisville, Detroit, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland. Diaz and Newman quote former FBI Hezbollah unit director, Bob Clifford, as saying, “they are the best light infantry in the world and can strike the United States anytime, anywhere.”

The recent revelation by FBI Director Robert Mueller about the Hezbollah smuggling ring out of Mexico just barely scratches the surface of the group’s activities inside the US. Hezbollah engages in a wide variety mid-level crime ranging from cigarette smuggling to credit card fraud to selling fake Viagra, intentionally keeping their operations from getting too large to prevent raising the attention of law enforcement authorities. Hezbollah operatives have also been observed working out of New York Indian reservations to avoid detection and arrest.


In the weeks ahead as Congress resumes the debate over border security, this admission from one of the government’s top law enforcement authorities should be noted. As one blogger put it sarcastically, “Hezbollah is coming to America to blow up things American’s won’t.” Mueller’s statements should make the point that illegal immigration is not just about poor Mexicans trying to find a decent living; it is also about America’s enemies entering our country with every intention of causing mayhem, destruction and death.

In the next few weeks and months, we may observe an escalating series of events that will lead to the next 9/11. As one U.S. intelligence official has stated:

If Iran becomes the focus of Phase Three [on the War on Terror], it could send a message to the U.S. that it is not like Iraq, that it has the means to strike us at home, with a network of cells that it placed here a long time ago. The Iranians wouldn’t take credit for blowing up a McDonald’s, but we would know, and they would know we know.

It is too early to predict how the current diplomatic crisis over Iran’s nuclear weapons program will play out, but Americans should assume that any potential military hostilities could result in Hezbollah striking American interests across the globe and here in the US Homeland. Possibly the Iranian ayatollahs may decide that preemptive Hezbollah suicide attacks against America might serve as a deterrent to U.S. military action against their nuclear facilities. A strategic wave of Hezbollah suicide bombings, and well coordinated military attacks in America could very well make the horror and tragedy of the last 9/11 look like a distant memory. Few realists doubt that we live in a dangerous world and most Americans understand that ‘freedom is not free,’ nonetheless, in the aftermath of another terrorist outrage on U.S. soil, new government commissions won’t impede Americans demanding accountability.

Hezbollah’s known domestic activities, to include the smuggling operation, not to mention unknown and yet unidentified ones, makes the question of America’s border security as an important national security consideration as any other. Yet ironically America’s border security is not even discussed in the newly published National Security Strategy. The security of other countries borders are more discussed in this and in the previous 2002 strategy than our own borders today.

America’s enemies have identified this vulnerability; according to a March 2005 Time Magazine report, al-Qaeda lieutenant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi instructed jihadists to bribe their way into Honduras and cross the U.S. southern border to attack soft American targets. From an intelligence perspective the indicators and warnings of the threat cannot be clearer.

The U.S. is faced with the rising nuclear threat from Iran. The announcement just a few days ago that the Islamic Republic has successfully produced enriched uranium quickly leading them to producing weapons-grade material makes the present discussion more exigent. As President Bush told the graduates of West Point in 2002, “The gravest danger to freedom lies at the crossroads of radicalism and [nuclear] technology.”

If the U.S. is forced into preemptive military action against Iran to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons, it should be expected that the long-established Hezbollah network in the US will be activated and attempt retaliation by their primary state-sponsor. We will learn the extents and limits of Hezbollah’s military capabilities within the U.S., our own intelligence capabilities, and whether our immigration and border policies were adequate.

Read it all.


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