Oh, if only the death of Osama bin Laden's death could solve all our problems. No doubt we've dealt a serious blow to al-Qaeda. Unfortunately, Hezbollah, which has terrorist cells all over the Western Hemisphere -- including within U.S. borders -- is an even greater long-term danger to us than al-Qaeda is.
In case anyone needs a refresher, Hezbollah is the Iranian-sponsored terrorist organization that has dominated Lebanon for many years, having made its first huge splash in 1983, when its suicide bombing of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut killed 241 Americans. Since then, Hezbollah has spread all over the world, and has pulled off some very high-profile terrorist attacks, including the bombing of the largest Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994, and the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1998.
Hezbollah has had a growing presence in South America for over twenty years, with its heaviest concentration in the remote, lawless wildlands of South America's "Tri-Border Area" (TBA), where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay intersect. Although Hezbollah's chief target is the United States of America, few Americans are even aware of the group's large and growing presence in our hemisphere. The fact that Iran is now building missile bases in Venezuela has perhaps gotten a few more people's attention -- but the media is not devoting to it anything like the coverage that its significance deserves.
If all that weren't bad enough, Hezbollah is in Mexico, is actively and successfully recruiting there, and now we find out that its reach extends as far northward as Tijuana. Maybe I missed it, but as far as I can tell, virtually nobody is covering this. There's one lone TV station down in San Diego that broke the story -- and other than a mention on the Fox News website, and a few conservative blogs, the story has gone down a black hole. Barack Obama certainly didn't mention it when he delivered his little "Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, bitter clingers!" speech last week in El Paso.
From Channel 10 News in San Diego:
A terrorist organization whose home base is in the Middle East has established another home base across the border in Mexico.
"They [Hezbollah] are recognized by many experts as the 'A' team of Muslim terrorist organizations," a former U.S. intelligence agent told 10News.
From Small Wars Journal, we get the following account that illustrates just how sophisticated Hezbollah is:
Recently, FBI agents went to the Tri-Border Area on a covert mission, only informing a select few officials of the host country with little time before arriving. Hezbollah faxed the FBI New York office pictures of their agents de-boarding their plane, just minutes after it happened. ―The implicit message was clear: We know you‘re here. We‘re watching. It was a classic example of Hezbollah‘s superb counterintelligence, another reason why American officials consider the group so dangerous.
This is what we're up against, folks. And they're not just down in the wilds of South America any more. According to the former intelligence agent who spoke to 10News San Diego:
The group is now active much closer to San Diego. "We are looking at 15 or 20 years that Hezbollah has been setting up shop in Mexico."
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. policy has focused on al-Qaeda and its offshoots. "They [al-Qaeda] are more shooters than thinkers … it's a lot of muscles, courage, desire but not a lot of training."
Hezbollah, he said, is far more advanced.
"Their operators are far more skilled … they are the equals of Russians, Chinese or Cubans," he said. "I consider Hezbollah much more dangerous in that sense because of strategic thinking; they think more long-term."
Hezbollah has operated in South America for decades and then Central America, along with their sometime rival, sometime ally Hamas.
Now, the group is blending into Shi'a Muslim communities in Mexico, including Tijuana.
Until a few months ago, when I first started researching Hezbollah's activities in Latin America, I didn't even know there were Shi'a Muslim communities in Mexico. But indeed there are -- in part, emigres from Muslim countries; in part, Mexican converts to Islam. The 10News story continues:
Other [Hezbollah] pockets along the U.S.-Mexico border region remain largely unidentified as U.S. intelligence agencies are focused on the drug trade .
"They have had clandestine training in how to live in foreign hostile territories," the agent said.
The agent, who has spent years deep undercover in Mexico, said Hezbollah is partnering with drug organizations, but which ones is not clear at this time.
He told 10News the group receives cartel cash and protection in exchange for Hezbollah expertise.
"From money laundering to firearms training and explosives training," the agent said.
For example, he tracked, along with Mexican intelligence, two Hezbollah operatives in safe houses in Tijuana and Durango.
"I confirmed the participation of cartel members as well as other Hezbollah individuals living and operating out of there," he said.
One of the things that is crucial to know about Hezbollah is that, although they are affiliated with Iran, each cell is set up to be self-sufficient with respect to personnel and funding. By and large, once a cell is established, it is not getting financial support from Iran. Each cell raises its own funds. This is why Hezbollah has gotten involved with the drug and human-trafficking cartels, along with currency-trading, import-export, and document-forging operations: These are money-makers.
But it's a two-way street. The drug cartels give Hezbollah a piece of the action with the drug and human-trafficking trades, but on the other hand, Hezbollah's particular specialties are useful to the Mexican cartels.
Tunnels the cartels have built that cross from Mexico into the U.S. have grown increasingly sophisticated. It is a learned skill, the agent said, [that] points to Hezbollah's involvement.
"Where are the knowledgeable tunnel builders? Certainly in the Middle East," he said.
Why have Americans not heard more about Hezbollah's activities happening so close to the border?
That's a very, very good question. Could it be (as I suspect) just good old-fashioned denial -- i.e., we're dealing with a threat so horrible, and seemingly so intractable, that deep down, we really just don't want to know? A variation on that is that news media -- and the interests that control them -- are afraid of creating a panic. Regrettable, but understandable.
"If they [Hezbollah] really wanted to start blowing stuff up, they could do it," the agent said.
According to the agent, the organization sees the U.S. as their "cash cow," with illegal drug and immigration operations. Many senior Hezbollah leaders are wealthy businessmen, the agent said.
"The money they are sending back to Lebanon is too important right now to jeopardize those operations."
The agent said the real concern is the group's long-term goal of radicalizing Muslim communities.
"They're focusing on developing … infiltrating communities within North America."
Counterterrorism professionals tell us that Hezbollah already has cells in the United States. And we know that their operatives are continuing to enter the U.S. via Mexico. Obama and others like to make it sound as if Mexicans are the only people coming over our unsecured border. But every year, thousands of OTMs (other than Mexican) cross the border as well. According to the Dept. of Homeland Security,
federal law enforcement agencies detained 791,568 deportable aliens in fiscal year 2008 – and 5,506 of them were from 14 "special-interest countries"... Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen ... [and terror sponsors] Cuba, Sudan, Syria and Iran.
Although only three of the thirteen Muslim countries on that list are listed as "terror sponsors," Yemen is now al-Qaeda's strongest base of operations, Somalia is the home base of the vicious terrorist group al-Shabaab, and we hardly need comment on the terror groups based in, funded by, or otherwise connected with Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Now consider: If border security personnel managed to catch 5,506, how many successfully got through without being caught?
The problem is bad enough that even Eric Holder's Justice Department admits that terrorists have been crossing our borders.
There are nearly 2,000 mosques in the U.S.. Even if only one percent of them shelter Hezbollah operatives, that would still be 20 American cities that could be attacked simultaneously if the command went out.
Just the imaginative figments of spy-thriller authors? Hardly. This is actually the way Hezbollah works, according to counterterrorism expert Cyrus Miryetka. Hezbollah cells play "the long game," biding their time for years or decades, waiting for the signal to do what they've trained for years to do. When the signal comes, we could see multiple Beirut-barracks type bombings. Or Mumbai-style massacres. Or Beslan-type massacres of schoolchildren. Or some combination of all the above. Or something we haven't seen before and can't even imagine. But the one thing we can almost surely count on, according to intelligence experts, is that it would be multiple attacks in multiple cities happening nearly simultaneously.
A useful analogy is red imported fire ants. Anyone who's lived in the southern U.S. will know what I'm talking about. The tactic of those vicious, meat-eating insects -- which have killed off much of the ground-nesting bird population in Texas and other states, and have even killed larger animals such as calves -- is to crawl up your leg by the dozens or hundreds before you even know they're on you -- and then, upon the release of a pheromone signal by the first one to sting, they all sting simultaneously. The pain is excruciating.
Right now, Hezbollah operatives are figuratively crawling up our leg, infiltrating one cell after another into our country, getting in place, getting ready, awaiting the signal.
Frightening, depressing stuff -- no wonder nobody wants to talk about it. But if a wildfire were headed directly toward your home as you slept, wouldn't you want someone to call and wake you up, so you could survive, and possibly even save your home? We may be in for tragic events, but surely our odds of surviving or even preventing them are better if we're aware and informed about the danger. Forewarned is forearmed.
So, what to do?
- Insist that our elected officials cease their willful ignorance of this problem, fulfill their constitutional duty to inform themselves about the enemy within, and in turn, inform the public. We have been bound and gagged by leftist-imposed "political correctness"; those gags need to come off, and quickly. We need more Sue Myricks and Peter Kings.
- Immediately shut down all jihadist training camps in the United States. It is insane that people training for the violent overthrow of the United States are permitted to operate at all. On the contrary, these people should be put on trial for sedition and punished accordingly. And the people living in nearby communities should be alerted to the camps' existence. It's simply wrong to keep people in the dark about the presence of such dangerous enemies in their vicinity. We have laws requiring that people be notified about sexual predators in their neighborhood; why not about people who mean to kill them and their children?
- Vigorously investigate every mosque and Islamic center in the United States. Numerous intrepid researchers have already documented the nefarious purposes for which these centers are used. Shut down the guilty ones and deport their imams. Again, "political correctness" is just a euphemism for national suicide. We are facing a threat to our continued existence, both as a country and as individuals "guilty" of being "infidels."
- Last but certainly not least : Seal the borders. (Mexico first, but don't forget Canada.)
There are many more tactics in an effective strategy; these are just the most obvious ones to an amateur. Our intelligence agencies will know full well what to do; we just need to listen to them, and to free our law-enforcement personnel to implement life-saving measures.
Cross-posted at The Heartlander.