Politics
In this Sept. 22, 2011 photo, members of Iran In this Sept. 22, 2011 photo, members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard march in front of the mausoleum of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, during armed an forces parade marking the 31st anniversary of the start of the Iraq-Iran War. (Photo: AP)  

Congressional report ties Middle East terrorists to Mexican drug cartels

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

A new congressional report from the House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management ties Middle East terror organizations to Mexican drug cartels.

The report, released Thursday, is titled “A Line in the Sand: Countering Crime, Violence and Terror at the Southwest Border.” It found that the “Southwest border has now become the greatest threat of terrorist infiltration into the United States.” It specifically cites a “growing influence” from Iranian and Hezbollah terror forces in Latin America.

“The presence of Hezbollah in Latin America is partially explained by the large Lebanese diaspora in South America,” the report reads. “In general, Hezbollah enjoys support by many in the Lebanese world community in part because of the numerous social programs it provides in Lebanon that include schools, hospitals, utilities and welfare.”

The congressional report, prepared by the subcommittee’s chairman, Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, argues that the “explanation for Iranian presence in Latin America begins with its symbiotic relationship with Hezbollah.”

“United in their dedication to the destruction of Israel, Iran has helped Hezbollah grow from a small group of untrained guerrillas into what is arguably the most highly trained, organized and equipped terrorist organization in the world,” the report reads. “In return, Hezbollah has served as an ideal proxy for Iranian military force – particularly against Israel – which affords Iran plausible deniability diplomatically. Hence wherever Hezbollah is entrenched, Iran will be as well and vice-versa.”

McCaul’s report goes on to argue Iran’s increased presence in Latin America is because of the nation’s close relationship with Venezuela – which recently re-elected socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

The report found that Hezbollah’s “relationship with Mexican drug cartels,” has been “documented as early as 2005.”

Quoting former Drug Enforcement Administration executive Michael Braun, the report argues these ties are troubling. “Operatives from FTOs (foreign terrorist organizations) and DTOs (drug trafficking organizations) are frequenting the same shady bars, the same seedy hotels and the same sweaty brothels in a growing number of areas around the world,” Braun said in a statement quoted in the report. “And what else are they doing? Based upon over 37 years in the law enforcement and security sectors, you can mark my word that they are most assuredly talking business and sharing lessons learned.”