Across the Bay

Sunday, August 31, 2008

"Lebanonization" and "Global Reach"

Quick, someone call Augustus Richard Norton to urge him to contest the following reports. For Norton has assured us over the years that Hezbollah has been "Lebanonized" and did not have "global reach." Or, as it has been put often, Hezbollah has "evolved" from what it used to be in the 80s. Right.

Witness the extent of their "evolution" and lack of "global reach."

The National follows up on a story that I've blogged in the past:

Fighters from Iraq’s Mahdi Army have detailed how they are receiving training from Lebanese Hizbollah in advanced insurgency tactics to use against US troops, even as Washington continues to negotiate a pact that may see most American soldiers leave Iraq by 2012.

At least 100 militants from the Mahdi Army, a powerful militia that opposes the American presence in Iraq, went to Lebanon earlier this summer to receive the training, according to two fighters who claim to have taken part.

In a series of interviews, they described being instructed in leadership methods and religious indoctrination techniques, as well as how best to ambush US troops and evade American air strikes. Their claims have not been independently verified and Hizbollah denies any such link with the Iraqi group.

US intelligence officials, however, say there are strong ties between the Lebanese and Iraqi militants and last week accused Hizbollah fighters of training Iraqis in camps inside Iran.
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Sayed Ali said he was “one of at least a hundred” fighters who travelled to Lebanon via Syria in May. The passage was organised by Hizbollah, he said. He returned to Iraq almost two months later.

And now, across the globe to Venezuela:

Western anti-terrorism officials are increasingly concerned that Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite Muslim militia that Washington has labeled a terrorist group, is using Venezuela as a base for operations.

Linked to deadly attacks on Jewish targets in Argentina in the early 1990s, Hezbollah may be taking advantage of Venezuela's ties with Iran, the militia's longtime sponsor, to move "people and things" into the Americas, as one Western government terrorism expert put it.
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"It's becoming a strategic partnership between Iran and Venezuela," said a Western anti-terrorism official who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the issue's sensitivity.
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Those deepening ties worry U.S. officials because Iranian spies around the world have been known to work with Hezbollah operatives, sometimes using Iranian embassies as cover, Western intelligence experts say.

In June, Assistant Secretary of State Thomas A. Shannon said Iran "has a history of terror in this hemisphere, and its linkages to the bombings in Buenos Aires are pretty well established."
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The most concrete allegations of a Hezbollah presence in Venezuela involve money-raising. In June, the U.S. Treasury Department designated two Venezuelan citizens as Hezbollah supporters and froze their U.S. assets.
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Agents of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah have allegedly set up a special force to attempt to kidnap Jewish businesspeople in Latin America and spirit them away to Lebanon, according to the Western anti-terrorism official. Iranian and Hezbollah operatives traveling in and out of Venezuela have recruited Venezuelan informants working at the Caracas airport to gather intelligence on Jewish travelers as potential targets for abduction, the Western anti-terrorism official said.
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Hezbollah has long operated in the Lebanese communities of Latin America. In addition to receiving a multimillion-dollar infusion from Iran, the militia finances itself by soliciting or extorting money from the Lebanese diaspora and through rackets such as smuggling, fraud and the drug and diamond trade in South America and elsewhere, Matthew Levitt, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Congress in 2005.

This is not to mention the Tri-Border area, where Hezbollah has long been entrenched (Jeffrey Goldberg wrote about it in The New Yorker back in 2002). The LAT report continues:

Three years ago, police in Colombia and Ecuador broke up an international cocaine-smuggling ring that functioned in Latin American countries, including Venezuela, and allegedly sent profits to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The lawless "tri-border" region connecting Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina has been a center of organized crime activities and finance linked to Hezbollah, Western anti-terrorism officials say.

Hezbollah operatives based there participated, along with Iranian spies, in the car bombings in Buenos Aires of the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and a Jewish community center two years later that killed a total of 114 people, an Argentine indictment charges.

In the aftermath of that indictment, filed in 2006, Hezbollah and its Iranian sponsors, chiefly the Revolutionary Guard, decided to shift from the increasingly scrutinized tri-border area to other countries, including Venezuela, Western anti-terrorism officials say.

"It preserves the capability of Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guard to mount attacks inside Latin America. . . . It is very, very important to Iran and Hezbollah right now."

So yeah, Norton is quite obviously right, they have no global reach! And of course, as you know, General Aoun in his famous Memorandum of Understanding (aka. Toilet Paper) has already "Lebanonized" Hezbollah (perhaps he didn't read Norton to find out that Hezbollah had already been "Lebanonized" well beforehand by Hezbollah "experts"!).

"Lebanonized"? What a joke...