Iran Could Be Planning to Strike at the U.S. in Latin America

March 13 2020

In 1992, in response to Israel’s assassination of Hizballah’s co-founder and leader Abbas Musawi, the Iran-backed terrorist group carried out a suicide bombing at the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29. Two years later, acting on instructions from Tehran, Hizballah executed a far deadlier attack on the AMIA Jewish center in the same city. Ryan Berg and Colin Clarke believe it likely that the Islamic Republic might similarly try to avenge Washington’s recent killing of the Iranian terror master Qassem Suleimani by targeting U.S. interests in Latin America, where Tehran’s networks are as extensive as ever:

During a recent visit to Colombia, . . . Secretary of State Mike Pompeo highlighted Hizballah’s activities in South America and the robust material support the group receives from the Nicolás Maduro regime in Venezuela. This nexus dates back to the time of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who offered Iran a financial workaround during the initial period of U.S. sanctions.

Iran also works behind the scenes to influence a range of non-Islamic groups throughout Latin America. . . . These groups adhere to a blend of revolutionary and leftist ideologies, and Tehran demonstrates its ideological flexibility by pushing the narrative of anti-imperialism, Bolivarianism, and anti-Americanism, all of which resonate more directly with these groups. They also provide Iran with options beyond Hizballah to conduct acts of sabotage and politically and ideologically motivated violence throughout the southern Andes.

Beyond Venezuela, Hizballah also maintains a strong presence in the [notoriously lawless] tri-border area at the borders of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. Over time, the group inserted itself into the hemisphere’s lucrative drug-trafficking and weapons-smuggling networks and became key money launderers, an activity estimated as of 2003 to generate between $300 million and $500 million per year for all Islamist groups in the area. Under the Obama administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration ceased Project Cassandra, an investigation of Hizballah’s sprawling Latin America network.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: AMIA bombing, Hizballah, Iran, Latin America, U.S. Foreign policy, Venezuela

The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy