From: "Foreign Policy Research Institute" <email@example.com>Date: December 26, 2011 11:34:28 PM MSTSubject: The New Nexus of NarcoterrorismForeign Policy Research InstituteOver 50 Years of Ideas in Service to Our Nationwww.fpri.orgYou can now follow FPRI on Facebook and FPRINews on TwitterE-NotesDistributed Exclusively via EmailTHE NEW NEXUS OF NARCOTERRORISM:HEZBOLLAH AND VENEZUELAby Vanessa NeumannDecember 26, 2011Vanessa Neumann is a Senior Fellow of the Foreign PolicyResearch Institute and is co-chair, with FPRI Trustee DevonCross, of FPRI's Manhattan Initiative.Available on the web and in pdf format at:----------------------------------------------------------The Winter 2012 issue of Orbis, FPRI's Journal of World Affairsis now available. Orbis is edited by Mackubin (Mac) Owens, AssociateDean of Academics for Electives and Directed Research and Professorof National Security Affairs at the Naval War College in Newport,Rhode Island. A prolific writer on military affairs, Dr. Owens isa long-time associate of FPRI, where he is a Senior Fellow inthe Program on National Security.Current issue featuring:Margin Call: How To Cut A Trillion From DefenseKori SchakeChina's Naval Rise And The South China Sea: An Operational AssessmentFelix K. ChangConfronting A Powerful China With Western CharacteristicsJames KurthReligious Relations Across The Taiwan Strait: Patterns, Alignments, AndPolitical EffectsDeborah A. Brown and Tun-jen ChengJordan: Between The Arab Spring And The Gulf Cooperation CouncilSamuel Helfont and Tally HelfontThe Arab Spring And The Saudi-Led CounterrevolutionMehran KamravaIndia's 'Af-Pak' Conundrum: South Asia In FluxHarsh V. PantIntelligence And Grand StrategyThomas FingarThe Reform Of Military Education: Twenty-Five Years LaterJoan Johnson-FreeseComplete Table of Contents and links to all articles:----------------------------------------------------------THE NEW NEXUS OF NARCOTERRORISM:HEZBOLLAH AND VENEZUELAby Vanessa NeumannPress stories, as well as a television documentary, over thepast two months have detailed the growing cooperationbetween South American drug traffickers and Middle Easternterrorists, proving that the United States continues toignore the mounting terrorist threat in its own "backyard"of Latin America at its own peril. A greater portion offinancing for Middle Eastern terrorist groups, includingHezbollah and Al Qaeda, is coming from Latin America, whilethey are also setting up training camps and recruitingcenters throughout our continent, endangering American livesand interests globally. Some Latin American countries thatwere traditional allies for the U.S. (including Venezuela)have now forged significant political and economic allianceswith regimes whose interests are at odds with those of theU.S., particularly China, Russia and Iran. In fact Iran andIran's Lebanese asset, "the Party of God," Hezbollah, havenow become the main terror sponsors in the region and areincreasingly funded by South American cocaine.Venezuela and Iran are strong allies: Venezuelan PresidentHugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejadpublicly call each other "brothers," and last year signed 11memoranda of understanding for, among other initiatives,joint oil and gas exploration, as well as the constructionof tanker ships and petrochemical plants. Chavez'sassistance to the Islamic Republic in circumventing U.N.sanctions has got the attention of the new Republicanleadership of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, resultingin the May 23rd, 2011 announcement by the US StateDepartment that it was imposing sanctions on the Venezuelangovernment-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA)as a punishment for circumventing UN sanctions against Iranand assisting in the development of the Iran's nuclearprogram.Besides its sponsored terrorist groups, Iran also has agrowing direct influence in Latin America, spurred by threeprincipal motivations: 1) a quest for uranium, 2) a questfor gasoline, 3) a quest for a base of operations that isclose to the US territory, in order to position itself toresist diplomatic and possible military pressure, possiblyby setting up a missile base within striking distance of themainland US, as the Soviets did in the Cuban Missile Crisis.FARC, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda all have training camps,recruiting bases and networks of mutual assistance inVenezuela as well as throughout the continent.I have long argued that Latin America is an increasingsource of funding for Middle Eastern terrorism and tooverlook the political changes and security threats in theregion with such geographic proximity to the US and itsgreatest source of immigrants is a huge strategic mistake.It was inevitable that South American cocaine traffickersand narcoterrorists would become of increasing importance toHezbollah and other groups. While intelligence officialsbelieve that Hezbollah used to receive as much as $200million annually from its primary patron, Iran, andadditional money from Syria, both these sources have largelydried up due to the onerous sanctions imposed on the formerand the turmoil in the latter.A recent New York Times front-page article (December 14,2011) revealed the extensive and intricate connectionsbetween Hezbollah and South American cocaine trafficking.Far from being the passive beneficiaries of drug-traffickingexpats and sympathizers, Hezbollah has high-level officialsdirectly involved in the South American cocaine trade andits most violent cartels, including the Mexican gang LosZetas. The "Party of God's" increasing foothold in thecocaine trade is facilitated by an enormous Lebanesediaspora. As I wrote in my May 2011 e-note, in 2005, sixmillion Muslims were estimated to inhabit Latin Americancities. However, ungoverned areas, primarily in the Amazonregions of Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador,Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil, present easily exploitableterrain over which to move people and material. The FreeTrade Zones of Iquique, Chile; Maicao, Colombia; and Colon,Panama, can generate undetected financial and logisticalsupport for terrorist groups. Colombia, Bolivia, and Peruoffer cocaine as a lucrative source of income. In addition,Cuba and Venezuela have cooperative agreements with Syria,Libya, and Iran.Some shocking revelations into the global interconnectednessof Latin American governments and Middle Eastern terroristgroups have come from Walid Makled, Venezuela's latter-dayPablo Escobar, who was arrested on August 19, 2010 inCucuta, a town on the Venezuelan-Colombian border. AVenezuelan of Syrian descent known variously as "El Turco"("The Turk") or "El Arabe" ("The Arab"), he is allegedlyresponsible for smuggling 10 tons of cocaine a month intothe US and Europe-a full 10 percent of the world's supplyand 60 percent of Europe's supply. His massiveinfrastructure and distribution network make this entirelyplausible, as well as entirely implausible the Venezuelangovernment did not know. Makled owned Venezuela's biggestairline, Aeropostal, huge warehouses in Venezuela's biggestport, Puerto Cabello, and bought enormous quantities of urea(used in cocaine processing) from a government-ownedchemical company.After his arrest and incarceration in the Colombian prisonLa Picota, Makled gave numerous interviews to various mediaoutlets. When asked on camera by a Univision televisionreporter whether he had any relation to the FARC, heanswered: "That is what I would say to the Americanprosecutor." Asked directly whether he knew of Hezbollahoperations in Venezuela, he answered: "In Venezuela? Ofcourse! That which I understand is that they work inVenezuela. [Hezbollah] make money and all of that money theysend to the Middle East." A prime example of the importanceof the Lebanese diaspora in triangulating amongst SouthAmerican cocaine and Middle Eastern terrorists, is AymanJoumaa, a Sunni Muslim of the Medell¡n cartel with deep tieswith Shiites in the Hezbollah strongholds of southernLebanon. His indictment made public on Tuesday "charges himwith coordinating shipments of Colombian cocaine to LosZetas in Mexico for sale in the United States, andlaundering the proceeds" (NY Times, Dec. 14, 2011).The growing routes linking South American cocaine to MiddleEastern terrorists are primarily from Colombia throughVenezuela. According to an April 2011 report by the UnitedNations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) the BolivarianRepublic of Venezuela is the most prominent country oforigin for direct cocaine shipments to Europe, with thecocaine coming mainly from Colombia, primarily the FARC andELN terrorist groups. Shipments to Africa, mostly WestAfrica, gained in importance between 2004 and 2007,resulting in the emergence of a new key trans-shipment hub:centered on Guinea-Bissau and Guinea, stretching to CapeVerde, The Gambia and Senegal, thus complementing thealready existing trafficking hub of the Bight of Benin,which spans from Ghana to Nigeria. As the cocaine istransported through Africa and into Europe, its safe passageis guaranteed (much as it was in Latin America) by terroristgroups-most prominently, Al Qaeda and Hezbollah. The cocainecan also travel from Latin America's Tri-Border Area(TBA)-bounded by Puerto Iguazu, Argentina; Ciudad del Este,Paraguay; and Foz do Iguacu, Brazil-to West Africa(particularly Benin, Gambia and Guinea-Bissau, with its poorgovernance and vast archipelagos) and then north into Europethrough Portugal and Spain or east via Syria and Lebanon.Hezbollah's traditional continental home has been the TBA,where a large, active Arab and Muslim community consistingof a Shi'a majority, a Sunni minority, and a smallpopulation of Christians who emigrated from Lebanon, Syria,Egypt and the Palestinian territories about 50 years ago.The TBA, South America's busiest contraband and smugglingcenter, has long been an ideal breeding ground for terroristgroups, including Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda-thelatter since 1995 when Osama bin Laden and Khalid SheikhMohammad first visited.Hezbollah is still active in the TBA, according to Argentineofficials. They maintain that with Iran's assistance,Hezbollah carried out a car-bomb attack on the main buildingof the Jewish Community Center (AMIA) in Buenos Aires onJuly 18, 1994, protesting the Israeli-Jordanian peaceagreement that year. Today, one of the masterminds of thoseattacks, the Iranian citizen and Shia Muslim teacher, MohsenRabbani, remains not only at large, but extremely active inrecruiting young Brazilians, according to reports inBrazilian magazine Veja. This region, the third in the worldfor cash transactions (behind Hong Kong and Miami),continues to be an epicenter for the conversion andrecruitment of a new generation of terrorists who then trainin the Middle East and pursue their activities both thereand in the Americas.According to Lebanon's drug enforcement chief, Col. AdelMashmoushi, as cited in The New York Times, a maintransportation route for terrorists, cash and drugs wasaboard a flight commonly referred to as "Aeroterror," aboutwhich I wrote in my May 2011 e-note for FPRI. According tomy own secret sources within the Venezuelan government, theflight had the route Tehran-Damascus-Caracas-Madrid, whereit would wait for 15 days, and flew under the direct ordersof the Venezuelan Vice-President, according to the captain.The flight would leave Caracas seemingly empty (though nowit appears it carried a cargo of cocaine) and returned fullof Iranians, who boarded the flight in Damascus, where theyarrived by bus from Tehran. The Iranian ambassador inCaracas would then distribute the new arrivals all overVenezuela.I wrote in my May 2011 e-note that reports that Venezuelahas provided Hezbollah operatives with Venezuelan nationalidentity cards are so rife, they were raised in the July 27,2010, Senate hearing for the recently nominated U.S.ambassador to Venezuela, Larry Palmer. When Palmer answeredthat he believed the reports, Chavez refused to accept himas ambassador in Venezuela. Thousands of foreign terroristshave in fact been given national identity cards thatidentify them as Venezuelan citizens and give them fullaccess to the benefits of citizenship. In 2003, Gen. MarcosFerreira, who had been in charge of Venezuela's Departmentof Immigration and Foreigners (DIEX) until he decided tosupport the 2002 coup against Chavez, said that he had beenpersonally asked by Ramon Rodr¡guez Chac¡n (who served asboth deputy head of DISIP-Venezuela's intelligence service,now renamed SEBIN-and Interior Minister under Chavez) toallow the illegal entry Colombians into Venezuela thirty-five times and that the DISIP itself regularly fast-trackedinsurgents including Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. The newly-minted Venezuelan citizens during Ferreira's tenure include2,520 Colombians and 279 "Syrians." And that was only duringthree of the past twelve years of an increasinglyradicalized Chavez regime.While Chavez has done more than anyone to strengthen theserelationships with Middle Eastern terrorists, in an attemptto use what he calls "the International Rebellion"(including Hezbollah, Hamas and ETA) in order to negotiatewith the US for power in Latin America, the coziness of theseemingly strange bedfellows dates back to the fall of theSoviet Union, when the USSR abandoned Cuba. At the Sao PauloForum of 1990, prominent Venezuelans and internationalterrorists were all in attendance, including: then-Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez (against whomChavez attempted a coup in 1992); Al¡ Rodr¡guez, then-President of PDVSA (Petroleos de Venezuela, the government-owned oil company); Pablo Medina, a left-wing Venezuelanpolitician who initially supported Chavez, but has now movedto the opposition; as well as Fidel Castro, Moammar Qaddafiand leaders of the FARC, Tupamaros and Sendero Luminoso(Shining Path). The extent to which these alliances havedeepened and become institutionalized is exemplified by theContinental Bolivarian Coordinator, the office thatcoordinates all the Latin American terrorists. According toa well-placed Venezuelan military source of mine, they areheadquartered in the Venezuelan state of Barinas-the samestate that is effectively a Chavez family fiefdom, withtheir sprawling family estate, La Chavera, and their totalcontrol of local politics. Their extreme anti-Semitism isnot ideological, but simply out of convenience: to court andmaintain Iranian support.According to the Congressional Research Service, withenactment of the sixth FY2011 Continuing Resolution throughMarch 18, 2011, (H.J.Res. 48/P.L. 112-6) Congress hasapproved a total of $1.283 trillion for military operations,base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs,and veterans' health care for the three operations initiatedsince the 9/11 attacks: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)Afghanistan and other counter terror operations; OperationNoble Eagle (ONE), providing enhanced security at militarybases; and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).Yet for all this massive spending on fighting terrorists andinsurgents in the Middle East, we are leaving ourselvesvulnerable to them here, on a number of fronts. First andforemost, the United States is under territorial threatthrough its Mexican border. Hezbollah operatives havealready been smuggled, along with drugs and weapons, intunnels dug under the border with the US by Mexican drugcartels. Only a week after my October 5th interview by KTMcFarland on Fox, where I specifically warned of apossibility of this resulting in a terrorist attack carriedout inside the US with the complicity of South American drugtraffickers, the global press revealed a plot by the eliteIranian Quds Force to utilize the Mexican gang Los Zetas toassassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington in a bombingthat would have murdered many Americans on their lunch hour.Second, American assets in Latin America are under threat.Embassies, consulates, corporate headquarters, energypipelines and American- or Jewish-sponsored communitycenters and American citizens have already been targeted byterrorist groups all over Latin America for decades: FARC inColombia, Sendero Luminoso and Tupac Amaru in Peru andHezbollah in Argentina. Al Qaeda is also rumored to have astrong presence in Brazil.Third, while American soldiers give their lives trying todefeat terrorists and violent insurgents in the Middle East,these same groups are being supported and strengthenedincreasingly by Latin America, where they receive training,weapons and cash. This makes American military engagementfar more costly by any metric: loss of life and financialcost.Indeed over the last decade, Latin America is a regionspiraling ever more out of American control. It is a regionwith which the United States has a growing asymmetry ofpower: it has more importance to the United States, whilethe United States is losing influence over Latin America,which remains the largest source of oil, drugs andimmigrants, both documented and not. Latinos now account for15 percent of the US population and nearly 50 percent ofrecent US population growth, as well as a growing portion ofthe electorate, as seen in the last presidential elections.The discovery of huge new oil reserves in Brazil andArgentina, that might even challenge Saudi Arabia, and the2012 presidential elections in Venezuela, make Latin Americaof increasing strategic importance to the U.S., particularlyas the future political landscape of the Middle East becomesever more uncertain, in the wake of the Arab Spring and thepolitical rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in previouslysecular Arab governments. The growth of transnational gangsand the resurgence of previously waning terroristorganizations pose complicated new challenges, as violenceand murder cross the U.S. border, costing American lives andtaking a huge toll on U.S. law enforcement. The UnitedStates needs to develop a smart policy to deal with thesechallenges.So while the US is expending vast resources on the GWOT, theterrorists are being armed and reinforced by America'ssouthern neighbors, making the GWOT far more costly for theUS and directly threatening American security. Even thoughVenezuelan President Hugo Chavez may be removed from thepresidency either through an electoral loss in the October7, 2012 presidential elections or through his battle withcancer, certain sectors of the Venezuelan government willcontinue to support international terrorism, whoseactivities, bases and training camps have now spreadthroughout this region. By understanding the dynamics of theincreasingly entrenched narcoterrorist network, the U.S. candevelop an effective policy to contend with these, whetheror not President Chavez remains in power.----------------------------------------------------------Copyright Foreign Policy Research Institute(http://www.fpri.org/). 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Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Fwd: The New Nexus of Narcoterrorism AZMEX
A AZMEX Must Read
Note: This report by Dr. Neumann adds to what the AZMEX reports have also been piecing together.
A destabilized or failed Mexican state is clearly on the agenda of these players, as that would have so
impact on the USA. Take into account also the extensive access these states and groups have to international arms markets. The Cuban and
Venezuelan new capabilities in weapons and munitions production. The dots are connecting.
Begin forwarded message: