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Terror in the Americas backgrounder

Hezbollah and Iranian-Sponsored Terror in Latin America

“Hezbollah’s presence in Latin America is growing and the organization remains the premiere terrorist organization in the world… It is growing both in economic capacity and in its placing of operatives in the region through the rapid expansion of Iran’s diplomatic and intelligence missions, businesses and investments.” – Douglas Farah Share this:

Networks Throughout the Tri-Border Area

Hezbollah involvement in South America used to be mostly concentrated in a region known as the “Tri-Border” area, where the Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay borders all come together.

Criminal activity in this area includes, but is not limited to: money laundering, recruitment, terror operation planning; arms trafficking; drug trafficking; monetary counterfeiting; and document forgery.

There is a sizeable Lebanese Shiite population in South America, especially concentrated in the Tri-Border area, allowing Hezbollah to conduct operations. It is a lawless area where Hezbollah raises $10 million according to SouthCom and $20 million according to Rand Corporation.




The group’s activity, however, has greatly expanded, and there are two major Hezbollah networks operating in South America: The Hojjat al-Eslam Mohsen Rabbani Network and the Ghazi Atef Salameh Nassereddine Network.

Hezbollah intelligence bases and covert centers span countries such as Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Venezuela.

Narcotics Trafficking

Narcotic trafficking in Latin America is a primary revenue stream for Hezbollah. The terror group moves drugs from the Tri-Border area to Europe and the Middle East frequently and uses it as an integral part of a global criminal enterprise.

Such activities have supposedly forged a close relationship between Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), a terror group.

It should be noted that Hezbollah’s narcotic trafficking is global, spanning places like West Africa and Europe. Hezbollah, for example, gets millions of dollars from the cocaine trade to these two continents. Furthermore, a Lebanese Canadian bank has helped wash hundreds of million of dollars in narcotics revenue, some of which was used as financial support for Hezbollah.

Relationship with Venezuela

Iran and Hezbollah have enjoyed strong relations with Venezuela for years.

Late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad call each other brothers, and there have been reports of Venezuelan people and organizations providing easy transport for Hezbollah members to and from Venezuela, which also provides funding and other means of financial and material support.

Venezuela’s Margarita Island serves as a center for Hezbollah operations and terror training.

Terrorism: Targeting Argentine Jews

On March 17, 1992, the Israeli Embassy was bombed in Buenos Aires. A pickup truck carrying 220 pounds of explosives and shrapnel drove into the front entrance of the building, destroying the embassy, a Catholic church, and a school while killing 29 and injuring 242.

Islamic Jihad, a Hezbollah front, claimed responsibility, and a 1998 phone call from the Iran Embassy in Buenos Aires confirmed Iran’s complicity.

Hezbollah was also behind the 1994 AMIA (Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina) bombing. This was a Jewish Community Center located in Buenos Aires. The AMIA bombing was carried out very similarly to the embassy bombing; a suicide bomber drove a truck full of explosives into the building, leaving 85 dead and over 300 injured, most of whom were Jewish.

The AMIA bomber, 29-year-old Hezbollah member Ibrahim Hussein Berro, was honored with a plaque in southern Lebanon for “martyrdom” July 18, 1994.


Direct Iranian Involvement in the Buenos Aires Bombing

On October 25, 2006, Argentine prosecutors formerly accused Iran for conducting the attack and Hezbollah for carrying it out. Hezbollah was reportedly given a “green light” to attack Israel and Jews after a strike against one of its training camps and the kidnapping of one of its members.

Argentina issued an arrest warrant for Imad Mughniyeh for the 1992 and 1994 attacks while Interpol issues “red notices” for Mughniyeh and several Iranian officials.

In 2013, Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who has since been allegedly assassinated by the Iranians (perhaps through Hezbollah), accused top Iranian officials and Hezbollah for the terror attacks.

He also said Iran uses charities, mosques, business fronts, diplomatic offices, and other means to gain influence in Latin America to conduct nefarious, illegal activities, which includes more terrorism.