The Republican chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs said she would not be surprised if reports that Hezbollah has established a base in Cuba are true.
“The Castro regime has long been designated by the State Department as a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement Wednesday. (RELATED: America safer 10 years after 9/11, but new terrorism threats have emerged, experts say)
“Given Cuba’s close relationship with Iran and Syria, Hezbollah’s primary benefactors, it would not surprise me if Cuba is providing a safe haven for Hezbollah to expand its operations in the Western Hemisphere,” she explained.
The Italian news outlet Corriere della Sera reported Wednesday that three Hezbollah members had left their base in Mexico to establish a permanent operation on the Communist-ruled island.
“Reports of a Hezbollah base in Cuba are dangerous yet unsurprising, if true,” Ros-Lehtinen wrote. “They remind us not only of the threat posed by Islamist extremists in the Western Hemisphere, but that those extremists enjoy the active support of America’s enemies in the region, including the likes of Chavez, the Castros, and others.”
Ros-Lehtinen also urged Americans not to forget the threat of terrorism sponsored by states in the Western Hemisphere. She promised to use the committee she chairs to seek answers from State Department officials and push legislation to strengthen counterrorism efforts in the Western Hemisphere.
“U.S. policy must not have any blind spot when it comes to Islamist extremist groups expanding their activities in our Hemisphere, and anti-American despots helping them out,” she urged.