In July I reported that Hezbollah, the most extensive terrorist organization in the world backed by Iran, is operating right next door to the United States in Mexico.
“This is a very important issue we pay too little attention to,” Senior Fellow for the International Assessment and Strategy Center Douglas Farah told lawmakers on Capitol Hill yesterday during a counterterrorism hearing.
According to testimony given on Capitol Hill yesterday, Hezbollah, the most extensive terrorist organization in the world, is operating along the U.S.-Mexico border and has vast influence in Latin America. Hezbollah is anti-American and anti-Israeli, and the United States has been concerned about the group since the 1980s.
“Hezbollah makes Al Qaeda look like a minor league team,” Chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) said.
Hezbollah was created by Iran and has close ties to Syria. The group is also backed by Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez, who has a cozy relationship with Iran.
“Hezbollah, backed by Iran and Venezuela, is a determined enemy of the United States that has made substantial progress in Latin America,” Ambassador and American Enterprise Institute visiting fellow Roger Noriega said during the hearing, adding that he believes there will be an attack on U.S. personnel if nothing is done soon to counter Hezbollah in Latin America.
Hezbollah has also been supplying explosives training to Mexican drug cartels operating along the U.S.-Mexico border, and tunnels used in the area are near replicas of weapons-smuggling tunnels built by Hezbollah and used in Lebanon. Since 2006, violence in Mexico has rapidly escaladed and cartels have become more ruthless. In addition, Mexican cartels are serving as source of financing and easy entrance for the organization into the United States.
“Hezbollah members have used the porous U.S.-Mexico border as an entrance to the United States,” Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council Ilan Berman said.
Yesterday, we were given a startling reminder about just how real this threat is when the Justice Department announced they foiled an Iranian-Mexican drug cartel plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States in Washington D.C. The Mexican cartel member planned to deliver explosives to D.C. to carry out the killing.
According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in New York, the plot was revealed by an informant inside the world of the Mexican drug trade, a man paid by U.S. drug agents to rat out traffickers.
The complaint describes the informant as someone who was previously charged for violating drug laws in the United States but got the charges dismissed by agreeing to cooperate with U.S. drug investigations. U.S. officials trusted the informant because he had proved reliable in the past and led to several drug seizures _ and the informant was paid for those tips.
In May 2011, the informant allegedly met with a Texas man named Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen who also had an Iranian passport. The complaint doesn't say how the two were introduced, but Arbabsiar reportedly approached the informant, who he thought was an associate of a drug cartel well known for its violent tactics, to ask about his knowledge of explosives for an attack on a Saudi embassy.
The informant reached out to his contacts in the United States to tell them all about it. Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he was told the informant was "somebody who was in one of the drug cartels, credible, long history, was fully capable of conducting the kind of operation the Iranian was asking for."
"This guy brought it to us, and from there it was laid out in front of us as they went forward," the Michigan Republican said.
The complaint said Arbabsiar and the informant met several more times in Mexico over the next few months, with the informant secretly recording their conversations for U.S. authorities. The two spoke English and their discussions became more focused on a specific target for violence _ the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, a U.S.-educated commoner sent to the United States to repair relations after the Sept. 11 attacks who has been ambassador since 2007.
The complaint said Arbabsiar has fully confessed to his role in the operation and said he was recruited, funded and directed by Iran's special foreign actions unit known as the Quds Force. Arbabsiar said his cousin Abdul Reza Shahlai was a high-ranking member of the Quds Force who approached him this past spring to ask for his cooperation. Arbabsiar said he frequently traveled between the U.S. and Mexico for work and knew people he believed were in the drug trade, and his cousin asked him if he could recruit someone in the narcotics business for criminal activity.
U.S. officials say Shahlai has a violent past _ the Bush administration accused him of planning a Jan. 20, 2007, attack in Karbala, Iraq, that killed five American soldiers and wounded three others. This time, according to U.S. officials, Shahlai and other Quds agents approved a plot to pay their Mexican drug contact $1.5 million for the death of the ambassador _ making a $100,000 down payment to an account the informant provided.
According to transcripts of their recorded conversations cited in the complaint, the informant told Arbabsiar he would kill the ambassador however he wanted _ "blow him up or shoot him" _ and Arbabsiar responded he should use whatever method was easiest. The plot eventually centered on targeting Al-Jubeir in his favorite restaurant and Arbabsiar was quoted as saying killing him alone would be better, "but sometime, you know, you have no choice." Arbabsiar dismisses the possibility that 100-150 others in the restaurant could be killed along with the ambassador as "no problem" and "no big deal."
The problem? FBI Director Robert Mueller won't admit that border security is national security.
"This case illustrates we live in a world where borders and boundaries are increasingly irrelevant," said FBI Director Robert Mueller.
Mueller's response is pathetic. Borders and boundaries of the United States are only "increasingly irrelevant" because of the federal government's refusal to secure the Southwest border with Mexico. Terrorist organizations and now Iran are taking advantage of our dangerous open-border policies and have plans to kill us with it. Mexican drug cartels are clearly willing to help them. Despite what FBI Director Mueller says, borders and boundaries are very relevant, they just have to be secured and enforced, things this administration isn't willing to do.
|Katie Pavlich is the News Editor at Townhall.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiepavlich. She is also the author of Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up.
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Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography