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Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight years after 9/11, terror on America's doorstep

Two prominent mainstream media outlets focused this week on the connection between Iran and Venezuela, and between Iran and other Latin American countries, and what it means to the United States. While the Atlanta Journal and Constitution's article was an op-ed written by a Colombian professor who may or may not reflect that newspaper's view, the Washington Post went after the Obama administration with an editorial that wondered aloud whether the Obama administration appreciates the threat that is being placed on its doorstep.

I'm going to start with the Journal and Constitution article because it sets out the background in much greater detail.
The most worrisome Iranian activity in Latin America, however, is the establishment of terrorist infrastructures linked to Iran. Tehran employs a combination of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — Vahidi was the head of IRGC’s Quds Force — and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah in its covert operations. The presence of both organizations in Latin America has substantially increased in recent years.

For example, the IRGC is cooperating closely with Venezuelan intelligence agencies. Tehran sent observers to military exercises organized by Caracas in 2008. Hezbollah has built a network of relations with Venezuelan citizens, making Caracas Hezbollah’s gateway into Latin America. As the U.S. Treasury Department denounced, one Venezuelan diplomat accredited in Beirut, Ghazi Nasr al Din, provided support to Hezbollah, including help with setting up its fund-raising apparatus in Latin America.

Hezbollah’s presence has been detected behind the proliferation of Shiite mosques in Ecuador. Hezbollah has been involved in the contraband of drugs in Colombia and in illegal immigrant traffic in Mexico. And the organization is expanding its presence in the region via proxies such as “Hezbollah Argentina” and “Hezbollah Venezuela.”

Tehran seeks to gain strategic advantages from its increased influence in Latin America in case its refusal to stop its nuclear program provokes a military confrontation with Washington or Jerusalem. Tehran wants to use the threat of retaliation by terrorist networks in Latin America under its control as a tool to dissuade the U.S. and Israel from launching an attack against its nuclear infrastructure.

In addition, the ayatollahs’ regime hopes its presence just south of the U.S. border forces Washington to pay more attention to the Western Hemisphere, leading to a reduction of America’s footprint in the Middle East.
Read the whole thing.

But instead of responding by shutting down Iran's access to Latin American banks and interfering with transfers of weapons and petroleum products between Iran and Venezuela, Obama has sought to 'engage' with both Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez and with Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And instead of shutting its borders with Mexico to keep the terrorists out (something I have urged for the last three years), the Obama administration is opening the borders and granting immunity to illegal immigrants who are already in the United States, making it likely that at least some terrorists will gain entry to the United States through family reunification programs.

The issue heated up further this week, because Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau warned the Brookings Institute on Tuesday that Iran is using the Venezuelan banking system to circumvent sanctions against its own banks.
"Generally speaking, nobody is focused sufficiently on the threat of the Iran-Venezuela connection," said Morgenthau, whose New York jurisdiction includes the offices of numerous U.S. financial institutions.

Venezuela is not subject to U.S. or international economic sanctions. That means U.S. banks processing wire transfers from Venezuelan banks rely on their Venezuelan counterparts to ensure the exchanges are for legitimate purposes.

"I have little faith that this is being effectively done, and the Iranians, aware of this vulnerability, appear to be taking advantage of it," he said.
Morgenthau's statement caused the liberal Washington Post, which has started to be more critical of Obama, to question whether the President really appreciates the threat that he is facing.
Mr. Chávez was in Tehran again this week and offered his full support for Mr. Ahmadinejad's hard-line faction. As usual, the caudillo made clear that he shares Iran's view of Israel, which he called "a genocidal state." He endorsed Iran's nuclear program and declared that Venezuela would seek Iran's assistance to construct a nuclear complex of its own. He also announced that his government would begin supplying Iran with 20,000 barrels of gasoline a day -- a deal that could directly undercut a possible U.S. effort to curtail Iran's gasoline imports.


Mr. Morgenthau's report was brushed off by the State Department, which is deeply invested in the Chávez-is-no-threat theory. State "will look into" Mr. Morgenthau's allegations, spokesman Ian Kelly said Wednesday. Meanwhile, Mr. Chávez is off to Moscow, where, according to the Russian press, he plans to increase the $4 billion he has already spent on weapons by another $500 million or so. Mr. Chávez recently promised to buy "several battalions" of Russian tanks. Not a threat? Give him time.
In this context, the United States' efforts to restore the rule of Honduras' Manuel Zelaya looks even more outrageous.

The United States and President Obama have to look at Hugo Chavez as a threat and deal with him accordingly. Chavez is Mahmoud Ahmadinjead's Latin American stalking horse, and if he is allowed to get out of hand, America could find itself facing a significant challenge in its own backyard that could cause it to forfeit the entire European and Middle Eastern theaters to the Russians and the Islamists.

President Obama's naive view of the world, which doesn't recognize that Hugo Chavez is a threat, itself threatens to undermine American security at home and abroad. That Obama has brought the United States to this point in just eight months in office simply boggles the mind.

There are still more than three years to the next election. What else could go wrong?


At 5:53 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Obama thinks America faces no more threats in the world.

With such an attitude, what could go wrong indeed


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