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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mugniyah's revenge?

The consensus here this weekend seems to be that any attempt to avenge the death of Imad Mugniyah will not come in the form of an attack on Israel by Hezbullah (Hezbullah is said not to be interested in a war with Israel right now), but rather in the form of an attack against Israeli, American or Jewish interests abroad.

This is no empty threat. The following is from an article in Friday's JPost:
According to Dr. Eitan Azani, former head of the Military Intelligence Lebanese desk and deputy executive director of the Institute for Counterterrorism in Herzliya, Hizbullah maintains an active presence and terror infrastructure in more than 50 countries. "Its international infrastructure is alive and well," Azani said.

In September 2006, the US House Committee on International Relations held a hearing, entitled "Hizbullah's Global Reach," to discuss the potential fallout from the month-long Israeli-Lebanese conflict and the possibility of attacks against American and Western targets. The transcript of the hearing provides a frightening and detailed description of Hizbullah's long-arm capabilities, all established and directed by Mughniyeh.

One of the witnesses at the hearing was Frank C. Urbancic, Principal deputy assistant secretary in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in the US State Department. In his testimony, Urbancic mentioned Hizbullah strongholds in South America - particularly in the area connecting Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay - where its supporters are actively involved in drug smuggling, arms trafficking, money laundering, fraud and intellectual property piracy.

Hizbullah, Urbancic said, also maintains a strong presence in Shi'ite communities in West and Central Africa, whose members have significant control over the import of basic commodities and the diamond trade. "Hizbullah has assets around the world and it can mobilize them on a moment's notice," he said. "I am quite sure of that."

Another witness, John G. Kavanagh, today the special agent in charge of the FBI's Omaha office and in 2006 section chief of international terrorism operations, told the committee of fears that Hizbullah operatives were also infiltrating the US via Mexico.

In 2006, he said, the FBI concluded an investigation in Detroit in which 107 federal indictments were obtained, leading to the arrest of 58 Hizbullah operatives and the seizure of $5 million in property.

"What we are seeing is a lot of supporters and sympathizers who are funneling a lot of money back to Lebanon for the cause, for the suicide bombers and the terrorist operations that are occurring in the Middle East," Kavanagh said, adding that this infrastructure was responsible for supplying Hizbullah with millions of dollars annually.

Urbancic said the US was particularly concerned about growing ties between Hizbullah and the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez.

"There is a large Hizbullah nexus to Venezuela... it is something that we are conscious of, that we are watching, and that we are very concerned about. And given the proclivities of the Chavez government, it is not a reassuring situation at all," he official said.

All of this, a senior Israeli intelligence officer said this week, was the work of Mughniyeh, whom he called an "axis of terror" that connected Hizbullah with Iran, Syria, al Qaida, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
All of which makes the US House democrats' shutting down shop this weekend without renewing the terror tracking bill most distressing.


At 3:20 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel should really tell Nasrallah to lay off or face massive retaliation. There's no need to wait for him to strike the first blow. Perhaps Israel should get in on it to reinforce deterrence.


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