Hizballah’s American Sleeper Agents

Five years ago, the FBI arrested two Hizballah members operating on U.S. soil. The Iran-backed Lebanese group had tasked them not with causing Islamic State-style mayhem, but with carefully surveilling targets, collecting data, and planning attacks so that, when the time was ripe, Tehran could strike in the heart of America. Among the targets they studied were Israelis living in the U.S., locations linked to Israel, and the JFK airport. They also investigated attacks abroad, including against U.S. targets in the Panama Canal. Speaking with Emil Bove, Mitchell Silber, Rebecca Weiner, and Nathan Sales—all current or former counterterrorism professionals—Matthew Levitt tells the story of these operatives, and explains how they fit into Hizballah’s mission. (Audio, 32 minutes. A transcript and other information can be found at the link below.)

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Lebanon, Terrorism, U.S. Security

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy