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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Azerbaijan is the newest Middle East conflict theater; will the US be next?

The Los Angeles Times discloses that Azerbaijani police thwarted an Iranian-Hezbullah plot to blow up Israel's embassy in the capital city of Baku last year. The plot was meant to be vengeance for the assassination - allegedly by Israel - of Hezbullah terrorist Imad Mughniyah (pictured).
Police intercepted a fleeing car and captured two suspected Hezbollah militants from Lebanon. The car contained explosives, binoculars, cameras, pistols with silencers and reconnaissance photos. Raiding alleged safe houses, police foiled what authorities say was a plot to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic that borders Iran.

Western anti-terrorism officials say the arrests a year ago thwarted swift retaliation by Hezbollah and Iran for the slaying of Imad Mughniyah, the legendary warlord of the Shiite Muslim militia based in Lebanon whose death was widely blamed on Israel.

The prosecution remained largely a secret until this week, when closed court proceedings began for two Lebanese and four Azeris charged with terrorism, espionage and other crimes.

The case offers an inside look at one of the stealthy duels being fought by Israel on one side and Hezbollah and Iran on the other in remote locales, from Latin America to Central Asia.

"They had reached the stage where they had a network in place to do an operation," said an Israeli security official, who requested anonymity for safety reasons. "We are seeing it all over the world. They are working very hard at it."
This isn't the first time that Hezbullah has attempted to avenge what it views as an Israeli assassination of one of its leaders outside Lebanon's borders.
That alleged alliance is accused in the bombings in Argentina of the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and a Jewish community center in 1994, attacks that left 114 people dead. Both were allegedly the work of Hezbollah suicide bombers directed by Iranian spies in response to Israel's assassination of Hezbollah leaders.

"In Buenos Aires in 1992, the attack came a month after an assassination in Lebanon," said Magnus Ranstorp, a top expert on Hezbollah at the Swedish National Defense College. "They strike where they have infrastructure, a network, a target in place."
And according to terrorism expert Matthew Levitt, the choice of Azerbaijan had additional appeal to the Iranians.
"The Iranians have a history of a presence there," said Levitt, who is now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "And they wouldn't mind undermining the country, given Azerbaijan's Western leanings."
I've discussed Hezbullah's sleeper cells in Latin America several times. For those of you who are wondering where Hezbullah is likely to strike, please consider this:
Some experts believe that an attack remains inevitable because of Mughniyah's importance to both Hezbollah and Iran. The risk is greatest for Israeli and Jewish targets in U.S.-allied Arab nations, Latin America, Central Asia and Africa, the Israeli security official said.
I would add the US to that list. There are likely Hezbullah operatives among the illegal immigrants coming over the US border from Mexico. But that's okay because the Obama administration is comfortable with its 'allies' making overtures to Hezbullah.

What could go wrong?


At 8:33 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Hezbollah has a global presence as extensive as Al Qaeda's. Yet the West's reaction to this dangerous foe hasn't been one of willingness to defeat and dismantle its terrorist network. To the contrary, appeasement and submission to Hezbollah is the very much the modus operandi of Western chancelleries and foreign ministries. We're not seeing any sustained war against the greatest threat to the Free World since Communism.

What could go wrong indeed


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