Think tanker and author Matthew Levitt penned a thought-provoking piece in Foreign Policy on Iran’s continued strategic exportation of terror.
“An Iranian-American used car salesman pleaded guilty this month to conspiring with Iranian agents to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Mansour Arbabsiar’s guilty plea would appear to be the end of this story, but in truth it raises more questions than it answers.”
The question we all should be asking; what is the thought process behind such attacks?
Levitt tells us:
… by late 2009, Iran was increasingly interested in using Hezbollah to combat threats to its nascent nuclear program. The Islamic Republic was in need of an enforcer: Malfunctioning components had ruined Iranian centrifuges, IRGC officers had defected, and in January 2010 a bomb killed Iranian physics professor Masoud Ali Mohammadi outside his Tehran home.”
He notes that the Iranians have recently arrived at two conclusions:
“First, Hezbollah had to revitalize its operational capabilities. And second, the IRGC would no longer act solely as logisticians supporting Hezbollah hit men — it would now deploy Quds Force operatives to carry out terrorist attack abroad.”
So what’s happening south of the border?
Well, many in the US are becoming concerned about particularly soft targets in Latin America, especially as both Hezbollah and Iran continue to strengthen their presence in the region. We’ve noticed that South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan is trying to do something about the potential spillover into North America.
Despite the weight of the issue, his successful bill was missed by every major news agency last week. I have taken this directly from Duncan’s website:
Washington, DC—South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan achieved a major legislative victory on Wednesday afternoon after one of his bills, the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act (HR 3783), passed the full House with unanimous support.
Just what is this legislation all about?
· Protects U.S. interests and assets in the Western Hemisphere such as embassies, consulates, businesses, energy pipelines, and cultural organizations, including threats to U.S. allies
· Requires a secure U.S. border with the U.S. working in coordination with the governments of Mexico and Canada to prevent Iranian operatives from entering the U.S. Counters efforts by foreign persons, entities, and governments in the region to assist Iran in evading U.S. and international sanctions
Actually, it’s been a pretty active week for the Iran-Latin America issue – though you wouldn’t know it based on media coverage. For example, this in from yesterday http://www.buenosairesherald.com/article/115643/amia-argentinairan-round-of-talks-finish-with-no-clear-conclusions:
“Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman announced at the Government House that new negotiations between diplomatic representatives of Argentina and Iran over the investigation into the 1994 AMIA terrorist attack, will take place before the end of November. The statements came after three days of meetings between authorities of both nations at the UN’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.”
Some 85 people were murdered in that attack. Argentina’s own special prosecutor unequivocally identified Iran and its proxy Hezbollah as the perpetrators, resulting in the naming of senior Iranians in Interpol’s wanted list.
Argentina may be out of its league on this one. Only have to read between the lines of this Iranian statement:
With no clear advancement, Ramin Mehmanparast, a spokesperson for the Foreign Relations Ministry, stated: “We condemn terrorism and reject the accusations against our citizens”
The media glimpses this past week seem to indicate something happening across the continent…
“Iran’s trade with Latin America more than tripled last year, according to a Latinvex analysis of data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Nearly all of the trade is based on Iranian imports from Latin America. While Iran’s exports to Latin America fell 57.2 percent to $73.1 million, imports from Latin America jumped 422.7 percent to $3.9 billion. That resulted in total trade growing 333.3 percent to $4 billion.
Two countries – Brazil and Argentina – dominate Iran’s trade with Latin America, accounting for 95.8 percent of the total, while the IMF figures show a surprisingly low level of trade between Iran and its key political partner in Latin America, Venezuela.”
The continent remains vulnerable to both the Islamic Republic’s hard and soft power. This Miami Herald opinion piece from September by the highly respected columnist Andres Oppenheimer
provides food for thought regarding the Iranian regime’s own Spanish-language TV channels, aired all over the Spanish-speaking world:
“A quick search of Hispantv’s own website and other Iranian government-controlled media, as well as mainstream newspapers from across the world, show that Iran’s theocratic regime is spilling anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and anti-Western venom on a daily basis.
“In a typical news story titled ‘Ahmadinejad underscores the nefarious role of Zionism in the world’ dated August 1, Hispantv’s website quotes Ahmadinejad as saying at a meeting with Islamic ambassadors in Tehran that for the past 400 years a ‘horrendous Zionist current’ is dominating the world. (If that sounds similar to what Adolph Hitler said in his day, it’s because it is).”
Latin America is exposed and vulnerable, while serving as a natural springboard to get to the heart of the US. Matthew Levitt’s article sheds a warning light on Iran’s global strategy of terrorizing its enemies; wherever it can find them. The Islamic Republic is flexing its muscles on the doorstep of the U.S. (and also in the heart of its capital city).
Our friends in the media would do well to take notice.