03 Dec 2006

Hezbollah Operating in the Americas

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TCS Daily reports:

In a forthcoming study for the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, senior researcher Ely Karmon raises the alarming prospect of Hezbollah affiliated groups bringing the Lebanese terrorists’ brand of violence to the Americas. While acknowledging that it is too soon to draw clear conclusions about the nature and objectives of these Hezbollah “franchisees,” Karmon nonetheless notes that “successful campaigns of proselytism in the heart of poor indigene Indian tribes and populations by both Shi’a and Sunni preachers and activists” have contributed to the growing attraction of Islamist terrorist groups in Latin America. Karmon also observes that “there is a growing trend of solidarity between leftist, Marxist, anti-global and even rightist elements with the Islamists,” citing inter alia the September 2004 “strategy conference” of anti-globalization groups hosted by Hezbollah in Beirut.

Evidence of this was already available in the Washington Post’s front page coverage of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s September 22 mass rally, which mentioned that among those in attendance was a Lebanese expatriate who had flown in from Venezuela for the event and that “[a]t the mention of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a critic of America, cheers went up.”

As it happens, one month after the demonstration in Beirut, on October 23, Venezuelan police discovered two explosive devices near the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. According to a statement in El Universal from the acting police commissioner of the Baruta district, law enforcement officials arrested a man carrying a “backpack containing one hundred black powder bases, pliers, adhesive tape, glue, and electric conductors” who “admitted that the explosives had been set to detonate within fifteen minutes.” The man arrested was José Miguel Rojas Espinoza, a 26-year-old student at the Bolivarian University of Venezuela, a Chávez-founded institution whose website proclaims that it offers a free “practical and on the ground education” contributing to “a more just, united, and sustainable society, world peace, and a new progressive and pluralist civilization.”

Two days after the failed bombing, a web posting by a group calling itself Venezuelan Hezbollah claimed — “in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful” — responsibility for the attack. The bombing was meant to publicize Venezuelan Hezbollah’s existence and its mission to “build an Islamic nation in Venezuela and all the countries of America,” under the guidance of “the ideology of the revolutionary Islam of the Imam Khomeini.”

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