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

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.

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Read more at Foreign Policy

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

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin