War on Terror, Iran Paranoia Expands to Latin America?

John Glaser, July 08, 2011

In a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorim and Intelligence yesterday, Robert F. Noriega, former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and a former U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States and now current Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, testified stern warnings about an operational presence of Islamic terrorist groups, particularly Hezbollah, in Latin America. Noriega claimed that Hezbollah, which “acts as a proxy for Iran” as well as “the Qods Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.” are “determined and deadly enemies of the United States” and “their expanding activities [in Latin America] are the result of a conscious, offensive strategy to carry their fight to our doorstep.”

Hezbollah operatives have provided weapons and explosives training to drug trafficking organizations that operate along the U.S.border with Mexico and have sought to radicalize Muslim populations in several Mexican cities.

[...] Hezbollah has a very clear modus operandi that it is applying in the Americas. By infiltrating or establishing mosques or “Islamic centers” throughout the region, Hezbollah is spreading its influence, legitimizing its cause, and advancing its violent jihad on our doorstep.

[...] As it stands today, I believe the Hezbollah/Iranian presence in Latin America constitutes a clear threat to the security of the U.S. homeland. They have the motivation, and they have been steadily increasing their capacity to act. In addition to operational terrorist activity, Hezbollah also is immersed in criminal activity throughout the region – from trafficking in weapons, drugs, and persons — all of which threaten our security…If our government and responsible partners in Latin America fail to act, I believe there will be an attack on U.S. personnel, installations or interests in the Americas as soon as Hezbollah operatives believe that they are capable of such an operation without implicating their Iranian sponsors in the crime.

The testimony also emphasized state sponsorship for these terrorist networks from “Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and others.” How robust is this terrorist network in Latin America? Noriega testified that they can identify “80 operatives in at least 12 countries throughout the region.” No mention is given of how much money they’ve allegedly raised, no evidence is given as to how connected and coherent are these disparate groups and individuals, and no level-headed, evidence-based assessment is given of what kind of plans they have against the United States.

The paranoid nature of these estimations, and the scant evidence presented for them, are eerily reminiscent of the kind of broad-strokes, hawkish fear-mongering on display in the lead up to the war in Iraq. The testimony comes from a group bent on hyping security threats and, as Noriega admitted in the testimony, is not even in agreement with the State Department or intelligence agencies. The State Department concluded in their Country Reports on Terrorism (issued August 2010) that “the threat of a transnational terrorist attack remained low for most countries in the Western Hemisphere” and that “there were no known operational cells of either al-Qa’ida- or Hizbollah-related groups in the hemisphere” aside from “ideological sympathizers.”

Ideological sympathizers in South America and the Caribbean, however, continued to provide financial and moral support to these and other terrorist groups in the Middle East and South Asia.

The United States remained concerned that Hizballah and HAMAS sympathizers were raising funds in the Tri-Border Area by participating in illicit activities and soliciting donations from sympathizers in the sizable Middle Eastern communities in the region. There was no corroborated information, however, that these or other Islamic extremist groups had an operational presence in the region.

We know that the State Department and criminal investigators in the U.S. consider peaceful anarchists and antiwar activists criminal enemies of the state (despite being unable to charge them with anything), so we should at the least be extremely skeptical about government terminology regarding minority Muslim immigrant groups in Latin America “participating in illicit activities and soliciting donations from ["terrorist"] sympathizers.” While the U.S. government gives billions for state violence perpetrated by Columbia, Israel, Yemen, Bahrain and many many others, as well as non-state groups with apparent ties to international terrorist groups like the rebels in Libya, somehow it is legitimate to war-monger Congress and the American people about a potential 80 operatives (undoubtedly a high estimate) raising pocket change and going to church in a region with over 550 million people.

The State Department report as well as the Noriega testimony also mention the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, both allegedly committed by Iranians as well as “one member of Hezbollah.” The report says that arrest warrants were issued for these people but they have yet to be tried for anything and claims of their involvement remain alleged. Bringing up these events which are over two decades old is a common tactic in drumming up fear and support for war. We saw this recently with Libya, where war-hawks spout off the list of comparatively minor terrorist attacks relative to the U.S. record that Gaddafi was involved in.

This testimony by Noriega is a perfect example of how paranoia mixed with an eagerness to ramp up violent militarism can lend credibility to fictional threats. Members of Congress can and will now use this testimony which is on the record as data in case of any event which may prompt some winded demagoguery on the terrorist threat to our south. Additionally, Iranian influence in Latin America is almost sure to be non-existent, as a robust infiltration of our dominated hemisphere would require much more than the Iranian state is currently capable of, especially under the crippling U.S. sanctions regime. And again, the State Department itself (not an organization known for its prudent cool-headedness) concluded that “there were no known operational cells of either al-Qa’ida- or Hizbollah-related groups in the hemisphere.”

Let us hope it gains no traction.




25 Responses to “War on Terror, Iran Paranoia Expands to Latin America?”

  1. I spent a good deal of time in Central and South America. Mostly in the military. 7th Id 2/75 7th SFG.

    It was all messed up. At least I woke up. It's all a bunch of lies. It always has been and the only end I can see in sight is the collapse of the US of A.

    It's not our job to police anywere but our own nation. We have one chance and one chance only, end the Empire.

  2. No sane person would want to see another war with the theocratic-military oligarchy presently imposing its dictatorship through naked repression in Iran or with any other regime. However, whilst upholding our humanitarian anti-war sentiments, we ought to be careful not to expand this into appeasing a pre-mediaeval tyranny who in proportion to its population is murdering and executing more people including children than any other country in the world and who has the harshest strictures against personal freedoms of especially women including their basic human rights such as choosing their own attire, drink or food.

  3. [...] 07/08/11 – Iran Paranoia Expands to Latin America [...]

  4. This guy is an ideologue on steroids. The list is made up of those nations which refuse to be lackey's for the USA and it's policies. He is still shoveling the same old Dominionist mafia mentality of, freedom is okay, as long as we get to take all your material wealth on our terms. This has nothing to do with Iran, it's about control and domination. When will we allow the peoples of the South to chose the life of their own? James Monroe died July 4, 1831.

  5. The wonderful thing about a war against shadows is that you can make the shadows appear anywhere you want. There will always be shadows, but is there any substance behind them ? It doesn't matter, the shadow itself is more than enough to spook us and make us cry for 'security'.

  6. There's an error in there. It should read "Colombia," not "Columbia."

  7. …killing children, women and children…. Repression, appeasing pre-medieval tyranny, executing children, more women and children….Murdering and executing more people including children….. and especially women…. whose supreme human rights are to choose their own attire, drink of food….
    Sorry, this is not only NOT working on me, but I am growing positively allegic to this kind of language.
    None of our business.
    None of our business.
    None of our business.

    Try repeating it, so that you do not get into temptation of "not wanting to see another war, BUT…"

    No buts. It seems that the only purpose for the "financial crisis", if there was ever one, was to suck out of the economy trillions of dollars to fund the ever exploding list of imperial projects.

  8. [...] John Glaser: War on Terror, Iran Paranoia Expands to Latin America? [...]

  9. Actually regarding the Argentina case – the Argentinians issued extradition requests for the former Iranian ambassador to Argentina, who was completing a PhD in the UK. The UK arrested him, but refused to extradite him when the Argentinians could not meet the minimal level of evidence required to back up their extradition request. So the UK let him go

  10. And so the drums are being struck once again but the drummers are now facing south….. The shamelessness of their idiotic rants is what gets me. That grown men and women spew this poisonous garbage with a straight face, and then demand that you call it manna from heaven, is absurdly evil. But, then again, I believe most people in and supporting of government are evil so where's the surprise in that?

  11. Of course the regime tortures and murders political opponents like any other dictatorship. I'm afraid you don't seem to get the idea. The personal freedoms I mentioned are to show what a socially repressive regime the pre-medieval tyranny is and how it’s subjecting the whole Iranian nation to some of the harshest strictures on the planet. My comments were intended to merely indicate that this regime simply doesn't belong to the modern world or our peaceful aspirations and that no democratic or progressive human being should try to appease it.

  12. The fantasy grows and grows. Is there anyone who actually believes these fairy tails?

  13. against personal freedoms of especially women including their basic human rights such as "choosing their own attire".
    But it is OK for France to impose a law against women choosingto wear head scarfs or burqa!

  14. If the South Americans do not do something about thses things,we would have to come with our forces and do what is needed to be done.

  15. "Our peaceful aspirations?"
    No country with "peaceful aspirations" lets itself be consumed by its military budget.

  16. Take a look at the old USA before you decide that we know "what needs to be done."

  17. It's okay.

    You see, Stanley is simply a racist tool. He would have readers believe that Iran is somehow stuck in the 15th century. And while reality does not conform to Stanley's lies about Iran, Israel is stuck in the Spanish Inquisition, torturing Palestinians and ethnically cleansing them from occupied East Jerusalem.

    Some of the techniques the Shin-Bet uses are truly medieval.

    Heck, forget the Palestinians, Israel's own ultra-orthodox population has made up the bulk of government coalitions in the last two decades. Even today, secular Jews find it difficult to pretend that they live in a secular democracy, whether its some fanatic rabbi who had a "sinner" flogged to the stoning of dogs or the notion that women are inferior beings.

    But, Stanley is big on "whilst", much as he is big on Aliya, Zionism and lies. Then he logs on to forums and pretends to be a concerned "American".

    Stanley's going to "liberate" Iranian souls from their bodies by getting Uncle Sam to do the dirty work for Israel, which will then bomb Iran's population centers to smithereens.

    Thanks for your (feigned) concern, Stanly. However, I'm sure the Iranian people can do without your "sympathy".

  18. It's okay.

    You see, Stanley is simply a racist tool. He would have readers believe that Iran is somehow stuck in the 15th century. And while reality does not conform to Stanley's lies about Iran, Israel is stuck in the Spanish Inquisition, torturing Palestinians and ethnically cleansing them from occupied East Jerusalem.

    Some of the techniques the Shin-Bet uses are truly medieval.

    Heck, forget the Palestinians, Israel's own ultra-orthodox population has made up the bulk of government coalitions in the last two decades. Even today, secular j-e-w-s find it difficult to pretend that they live in a secular democracy, whether its some fanatic rabbi who had a "sinner" flogged to the stoning of dogs or the notion that women are inferior beings.

    But, Stanley is big on "whilst", much as he is big on Aliya, Zionism and lies. Then he logs on to forums and pretends to be a concerned "American".

    Stanley's going to "liberate" Iranian souls from their bodies by getting Uncle Sam to do the dirty work for Israel, which will then bomb Iran's population centers to smithereens.

    Thanks for your (feigned) concern, Stanly. However, I'm sure the Iranian people can do without your "sympathy".

  19. The fact of the matter is that much like David Horowitz, Stanley is pretending that he cares for women's rights. Therein lies the logical fallacy, Stanley is so concerned for Muslim women in Iran that he thinks it wise to bomb the country and invade it , allegedly in order to "liberate" those poor oppressed women.

    Alas, Stanley is your run-of-the-mill Orientalist, a racist Zionist who thinks he has a full grasp on Islam and Muslims in Iran, so much so that he can make sweeping generalizations about Muslim women's motivations for wearing certain "attire".

    But, if Stanley knew his ankles from his neck, he would have realized that much like any other religion, some Muslim women choose to wear veils or Bur'qas — even against their husbands will, believe it or not — while some may give in to social pressure.

    But, in their efforts to justify and facilitate imperial and colonial expansion, racists have resorted to using "humanitarian" concerns to invade and destroy other nations.

    Incidentally, if Israel and its apologists are so concerned with human rights and repression, how about they lift their collective boot off of the neck of Palestinians who have been under an Israeli military occupation for more than 40 years, the longest occupation in modern history?

    Even the US State Department acknowledges that Israel oppresses its own 20% Palestinian minority and heavily restricts their freedom of religion.

  20. "Our peaceful aspirations"…. WTF? Looks like we have a new troll here folks.

  21. My friend, I'm not a spokesperson for the US or any other government. What I mean by "OUR PEACEFUL ASPIRATIONS" is the aspirations of all INDIVIDULAS who truly believe in humanitarian values without any PROVISIO.

  22. My friend. Any truly humanitarian person is against torture, repression and occupation by any state against its own people or an occupied people like the Palestinians. Torture and repression is wrong full stop! Having said that it goes without saying that, for instance, the Shah of Iran was a dictator of the 20th century whereas the religious fascists in Iran use stoning, gouging of eyes and cutting off limb as well as using cranes to murder people in public squares in front of passing children's eyes. The regime does not even allow its murdered victims' families to bury their loved ones in peace. Neda Agha Soltan's mother was ordered by the regime's agents not even to cry at her daughter's graveside. Let’s not forget that the Iranian regime has murdered tens of thousands of its own people for merely demanding basic human rights.

  23. Freedom means freedom, full stop! It is as wrong for any state or individual to ban the scarf as it is to impose it by force.

  24. [...] threat remains a principal pretext for imperial foreign policy. Without it, difficulties arise in attempting to justify fantastical and unnecessary new military targets or invasive surveillance policies or even just the prolongation of our occupations in Iraq and [...]

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