Iran’s Clandestine Network in Latin America

May 3, 2016 | Emanuele Ottolenghi
About the author:

By sending clergy and other religious functionaries to Latin America, Iran has extended both its political and ideological influence as well as its terror networks to the western hemisphere. Emanuele Ottolenghi writes:

Across Latin America, Iran’s public face appears innocuous: mosques, cultural centers, schools, halal meat inspectors, religious literature, social work, and even Boy Scout groups. Yet beneath the veneer of piety, outreach, and interfaith dialogue, Tehran leverages connections with anti-American regimes and movements to gain a foothold in the region, and to indoctrinate local Muslims in its brand of revolutionary Islam. Rather than relying on the traditional tools of statecraft, Iran advances its agenda with mosques and missionaries.

Tehran’s use of Iranian and Lebanese Shiite clerics as unofficial agents of the Iranian revolution is not new. The first such cleric to reach Latin America was Mohsen Rabbani, who in 1983 came to Argentina to lead the al-Tawhid mosque and serve as a halal meat inspector in Buenos Aires. Both tasks appeared innocuous enough, but Rabbani was intimately involved in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in the Argentine capital that killed 85 people and injured over 300. . . .

The dual role of Shiite clerics as religious and political emissaries of the Islamic revolution was underscored in 2010, when the U.S. Treasury identified another religious minister as Hizballah’s representative in Latin America.

Read more on National Interest: