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.

Read more at Foreign Policy

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


Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria