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Opening Statement

Chairman Connie Mack
Western Hemisphere Subcommittee
“Venezuela’s Sanctionable Activity”
June 24, 2011

I asked you to appear before my subcommittee in March, and you refused to testify. I need you to know that as
Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, I take my constitutional responsibility to provide
oversight very seriously. Your refusal to appear is a disservice to the American People. And I will not hesitate
to utilize my subpoena power in the future if that is the only way to ensure proper oversight.

Today, in light of the U.S. State Department’s recent action in sanctioning PDVSA and the Venezuela Military
Industries Company (CAVIM), the purpose of this hearing is to review and better understand the role of the
State Department and the Treasury Department in utilizing sanctions as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy.

Specifically, I would like to concentrate on the sanctions available under U.S. law and discuss their potential
application in cases where Venezuelan individuals, businesses, and the government are demonstrably

Venezuela has become the “Wild West” under thugocrat Hugo Chavez’s rule. I believe this to be true for the
following reasons:
x There is rampant drug trafficking and corruption;
x Terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and the FARC are officially linked to government officials; and
x Venezuela is supporting Iran.

Under Hugo Chavez Venezuela has become a hub in our region for money laundering and the transshipment of
illicit goods. In recent years, the relationship between drug traffickers and terrorist organizations has become
closely intertwined. It is widely acknowledged that terrorist groups have turned to drug trafficking as a source
of revenue. And Chavez has provided Venezuela as a safe haven for these narco-terrorists. The FARC, a drug
trafficking and terrorist organization, who largely operates in remote sections of Colombia, has long received
assistance, relief, and material support from the Venezuelan authorities.

In one example, the Treasury Department designated the Venezuelan Military General-and-Chief, a Drug
Kingpin for supporting the FARC. Additionally, Treasury has designated a Venezuelan diplomat a Specially
Designated Global Terrorist for his relationship and material support of Hezbollah. In April of 2010, a DOD
report- citing Iran’s overall military strength, influence, and operational capacity- highlighted the fact that the
Iranian Revolutionary Guard has increased its presence in Latin America with a particular emphasis in

Further, weekly undocumented flights in and out of Caracas provide access for Hezbollah and the IRGC, and
God knows who else, into Venezuela. These flights have been occurring since 2007. General Fraser of
SOUTHCOM recently referenced the flights and highlighted the fact that we, the U.S., do not know who or
what are on these flights. Meanwhile, the files of FARC commander Raul Reyes referenced the ease in which
travel documents can be attained in Venezuela.

My point is that Venezuela has and continues to play a central role in facilitating, developing, and expanding
Iran’s foreign relations in Latin America while drug traffickers, Hezbollah, the FARC and other terrorist
organizations use Venezuela as the front door to operate and move freely within our Hemisphere.

Sanctions can be a valuable tool that, when used appropriately, can have considerable influence over a foreign
country or entity. The U.S. Congress, the State Department, and the Treasury Department need to work
together to promote and advocate U.S. interests through a carrot and stick approach, deepening our friendships
in the Hemisphere, and defending our freedoms.

The U.S. sends approximately 117 million dollars a day to Venezuela’s state owned gas company, which uses
every single dollar to undermine our security and prosperity. We cannot allow this to continue. We need to look
at all available sanctions, including designating Venezuela as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. We need sanctions
that restrict the ability of Chavez, and all of his corrupt ministers, from carrying out illegal activity.

We also need to do our diplomatic work to make sure allies know that we stand with them, and that we are not
afraid to utilize sanctions for the benefit of the region.

It is imperative that President Obama and his Administration take this growing threat seriously. The most
recent sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned companies are a step in the right direction but they are empty and
do not enhance U.S. security. More must be done and we need true leadership in this region to accomplish it.

I look forward to discussing additional sanctions that are available under U.S. law that would send not only a
clear message to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela but send a reaffirming message to our allies around the world that
the United States will not allow such blatant support for illegal drugs, terrorism and Iran’s nuclear future.

Testimony of Ambassador Daniel Benj amin, Coordinator for
Counterter rorism; Kevin Whitaker, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for
Western Hemisphere Affai rs; and Thomas Delare, Di rector of the Office of
Ter rorist Finance and Economic Sanctions Policy, Bureau of Economic,
Energy and Business Affai rs
Department of State

Joint House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National
Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations
House Foreign Affai rs Committee Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere and
Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia
hearing on ~Venezuela`s Sanctionable Activities¨

Chairman Chaffetz, Chairman Mack, Chairman Chabot, Ranking Member
Tierney, Ranking Member Engel, Ranking Member Ackerman, distinguished
members of the committees, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you
today to discuss Venezuela`s sanctionable activities.

We want to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today with
Adam Szubin, our colleague from the Department of the Treasury. Allow us to
start by saying that the Administration is committed to its duty to protect and
advance U.S. interests and national security worldwide. The State Department is
concerned about Venezuela`s relations with Iran. its support for the FARC, its
lackluster cooperation on counterterrorism, and its demonstrable failure to meet its
international counternarcotics obligations, and we have taken a series of specific
actions over time to address them in a serious way, using the tools provided by
Congress, and will outline them in the following statement and in our testimony.
These actions are substantial, targeted, and iterative and are well understood in
Venezuela and elsewhere.
In our assessments oI Venezuela`s cooperation with U.S. antiterrorism
efforts, we have taken into account reports that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) have crossed into
Venezuelan territory to rest and regroup, to conduct drug trafficking activities, as
well as to extort protection money and kidnap Venezuelans to finance their
operations. In addition, we have also considered reports that some weapons and
ammunition from official Venezuelan stocks and facilities have been found in the
hands of these groups. These are matters of significant concern to us and to our
Colombian allies. We do note the recent cooperation between the Government of
Colombia and the Government of Venezuela that has led to the arrest of mid-level
FARC leaders in Venezuela.

The Administration has significant concerns about connections between
members of the Venezuelan government and U.S.-designated terrorist
organizations such as the FARC, ELN, and ETA (Basque Fatherland and Liberty),
all of which have been reported on in the press. As we have reported in the past,
Hizballah has a presence in Venezuela, and the Department of the Treasury has
done much to highlight these connections. I do, however, want to emphasize that
the information available to us indicates that Hizballah activity in Venezuela is
confined to fundraising. We remain alert to indications of other activities,
particularly operational activity, but there is no information to support any such
contention at this point.

Since coming to power in 1999, Hugo Chavez has chosen to develop close
relations with Iran and Syria. Venezuela is Iran`s closest political ally in the
Western Hemisphere and President Chavez continues to define Iran as a "strategic
ally." This close and highly publicized bond has led to public declarations to
establish broad economic, military, and political cooperation, although the extent
of and accomplishments associated with such cooperation appear much less

Venezuela is required to fulfill its obligations under UN Security Council
Resolutions 1373 and 1540, which form part of the legal basis of international
counterterrorism efforts. These resolutions, adopted under Chapter VII of the UN
Charter, require all states, including Venezuela, to take a series of measures to
combat terrorism and prevent WMD and their means of delivery from getting into
the hands of terrorists. It is our view that Venezuela has not done enough in this

We would like to outline the significant and effective steps that the U.S.
government has already taken to confront specific actions and activities by
Venezuela and by Venezuelan officials. For the last five years, since May 2006,
pursuant to section 40A of the Arms Export Control Act, Venezuela has been listed
as a 'Not Fully Cooperating With U.S. Antiterrorism Efforts¨ country, because of
its inadequate response to our counterterrorism efforts. The effect of this listing is
a prohibition against the sale or licensing for export to Venezuela of defense
articles or services. The United States has also imposed an arms embargo on
Venezuela since 2006, which ended all U.S. commercial arms sales and re-
transfers to Venezuela. This sanction is a useful tool in signaling we are not
satisIied with Venezuela`s counterterrorism cooperation. and has been used in
situations where a state may not meet the high threshold for designation as an SST.

The Department of the Treasury has designated two high level Venezuelan
government officials and one former official under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin
Designation Act for materially assisting the narcotics trafficking activities of the
FARC, and have sanctioned Venezuelan companies when appropriate.

There are signs that the Venezuelan government is beginning to comprehend
the international community`s concerns about its behavior. particularly with
respect to the FARC. Venezuela has increased its counterterrorism cooperation
with Colombia. Since Colombian President Santos took office a year ago, the
Venezuelan and Colombian presidents have met three times, most recently on
April 9, and have signed numerous agreements on counternarcotics, border
development, and security cooperation. In addition, Colombian Defense Minister
Rodrigo Rivera met with Venezuelan DeIense Minister Carlos Mata during Santos`
visit to Venezuela in November 2010. Rivera also signed a counternarcotics
agreement with Venezuelan Interior Minister Tarek El-Aissami in January.

Colombian-Venezuelan cooperation on terrorism and security matters is
clearly increasing and being systematized, yielding notable results. We see as
positive Venezuela`s deportation oI several members oI the FARC and the ELN to
Colombia over the past several months. Some are key operatives wanted for
specific acts of terrorism; others are high-profile political actors, like Sweden-
based FARC International Commission Representative Joaquin Perez Becerra, who
served as the FARC public relations coordinator for Europe. Similarly, Venezuela
also recently arrested a member of the FARC general staff, Julián Conrado, based
on a Colombian arrest warrant. His removal to Colombia is pending. Finally,
Chavez has also called on the FARC to join a political reconciliation process and
has claimed that any discussions between Venezuelan government officials and the
FARC about establishing bases in Venezuela took place without his authorization.

Despite this recent and welcome cooperation with Colombia, we remain
concerned about Venezuela`s commitment to fighting terrorism, and we continue
to consider all options in applying appropriate sanctions. One option available to
us is the State Sponsor of Terrorism designation. The Department of State has a
rigorous legal threshold in exercising its authority to make State Sponsor of
Terrorism designations. Since 1979, the following countries have been placed on
the SST list: Cuba, Libya, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, South Yemen, Sudan, and
Syria. Of these, Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria remain on the list today. The last
time the Secretary of State used this authority was in 1993 when Sudan was added
to the list.

Before designating a country as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, the Secretary
must determine that the government of the country has repeatedly provided support
for acts of international terrorism. Before making such a determination,
inIormation related to a government`s possible support towards terrorism is
carefully reviewed to ensure that there is both credible and corroborated evidence
oI a government`s repeated support Ior acts oI international terrorism. We believe
this is a necessary step before we utilize one of the U.S. government`s broadest
sanction tools. If we make decisions to designate states based on anything less, we
would be setting the bar too low for future additions to the list. A lower threshold
could possibly lead to additions to the list but some of these changes would be
inimical to our foreign policy, economic, and counterterrorism interests.

When there has been evidence of direct support for Iran, we have acted.
Under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of
2010 (CISADA),the State Department is the agency primarily responsible for
implementing the provisions which relate to the energy, shipping, and
transportation sectors, the export of sensitive telecommunications technology, and
non-proliferation. The Department of the Treasury has primary responsibility for
implementing the financial sanctions contained in CISADA, and the Department of
the Treasury and the State Department work together to implement the human
rights provisions of CISADA. In 2008, the Banco Internacional de Desarrollo was
put on the Department of the Treasury`s list oI Specially Designated Nationals and
Blocked Persons pursuant to Executive Order 13382, 'Blocking Property of
Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators and their Supporters¨ as a subsidiary of
the Export Development Bank of Iran. The Export Development Bank of Iran was
itself designated pursuant to Executive Order 13382 for providing or attempting to
provide financial services to Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces
Logistics. Just last month, on May 24, the Secretary imposed sanctions on
Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), based on its activities in support oI Iran`s
energy sector. On at least two occasions, PDVSA provided cargoes of reformate,
an additive used in gasoline, to the National Iranian Oil Company. These
shipments were valued at over $50 million, well above the sanctionable thresholds
established in the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA).

Under the ISA, the Secretary has the authority to calibrate sanctions on a
case by case basis. Sanctions can range from prohibitions on certain types of
government assistance, to a complete blocking of all property transactions subject
to U.S. jurisdiction. In the case of PDVSA, the Secretary chose three sanctions
that limit PDVSA`s activities in the United States but do not impact its subsidiaries
or the export of crude oil from Venezuela.

It is important to note that this calibrated approach was chosen because it is
our goal to persuade PDVSA to make the right choice and stop shipments of
refined petroleum to Iran. If PDVSA does not stop, and we have made this very
clear in our conversations with PDVSA and with the Venezuelan government, the
Secretary of State reserves her authority to impose additional, more severe

These sanctions were only recently imposed. While we do not know what
the ultimate result of these important actions will be, we are confident that they got
the attention of Venezuelan government officials, based on subsequent comments
from such officials and from PDVSA. They understand the sanctions and our
justification for it. The Department of State has a very good record of convincing
companies to stop supporting Iran`s energy sector. Last Iall we secured the formal
withdrawal of five large multinational energy companies Royal Dutch Shell,
ENI, INPEX, Statoil, and Total from projects in Iran. These firms have been
joined by scores of other companies working in a variety of sectors that have
recognized that the risks of doing business with Iran are just too high. We will
continue our dialogue with Venezuela directly and through our other allies.

In addition, on May 23, we imposed sanctions pursuant to the Iran, North
Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA), against the Venezuela Military
Industries Company (CAVIM). INKSNA provides for penalties on entities that
engage in the transfer to or acquisition from Iran, Syria, or North Korea of
equipment or technology controlled by one of the four multilateral regimes (e.g.
the Australia Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Nuclear
Suppliers Group, and the Wassenaar Arrangement) that regulate the export of
advanced conventional weapons, weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and cruise
and ballistic missile systems.

Much more work remains to be done, and we will continue to closely
monitor Venezuela`s actions. All oI the broad and targeted actions we`ve taken
against Venezuela should serve as an indicator that we are stepping up the pressure
as it is warranted.
The Department has strongly urged Venezuela`s leaders to pursue a path oI
cooperation and responsibility rather than seeking close ties to Iran, supporting
illegal armed groups, and risking further isolation. We continue to monitor
Venezuela, as well as other countries, for activities that would indicate a pattern of
support for acts of international terrorism. No option is ever off the table, and the
Department will continue to assess what additional actions might be warranted in
the future.


Written Testimony by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Director of the Office of
Foreign Assets Control Adam J. Szubin Before the Oversight and Government Reform
Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations, the
Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, and the Foreign Affairs
Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia
June 24, 2011

Venezuela’s Sanctionable Activity

Chairman Chaffetz, Chairman Mack, Chairman Chabot, Ranking Member Tierney,
Ranking Member Engel, Ranking Member Ackerman, distinguished members of the committees,
thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss Venezuela’s sanctionable
activities. I am pleased to be here with my State Department colleagues, Ambassador Benjamin,
Tom Delare, and Kevin Whitaker. Our Departments collaborate closely on the development and
implementation of economic sanctions throughout the world. As part of this mission, we have
worked diligently with one another to apply sanctions to a range of actors in Venezuela and
elsewhere in Latin America – including narcotics traffickers, terrorists and their supporters, and
entities aiding Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and promotion of international terror.

I would like to use this opportunity to provide the committees a brief overview of the
Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) sanctions related activities regarding Venezuela.


The Treasury Department has taken strong action against Latin American narcotics
traffickers, including key actions involving Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala,
Peru, Panama and Bolivia. Through these efforts, we have targeted some of the largest drug

cartels operating in South America and Mexico, including the Cali, Medellin, Sinaloa, Beltran-
Leyva and Juarez cartels. Over the past several years, the United States has sanctioned nearly
3000 entities in Latin America involved in narcotics trafficking – almost 1800 entities have been
designated under Executive Order 12978, and nearly 1,000 entities have been sanctioned
pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (the “Kingpin Act”).

These figures include sanctions on two individuals who were high-level Venezuelan
officials at the time of designation and one individual who was a former official at the time of
designation: Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios, the former director of Venezuelan military
intelligence; Henry de Jesus Rangel Silva, the former director of Venezuelan state security and
intelligence; and Ramon Emilio Rodriguez Chacin, Venezuela’s former Minister of Interior
Justice. All three officials were designated in September 2008 under the Kingpin Act for
materially assisting the narcotics trafficking activities of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia, the narco-terrorist organization better known by its acronym, the “FARC.” The
FARC has been identified by the President as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker, or drug
kingpin, and designated by the State Department as both a specially designated global terrorist
and a foreign terrorist organization. The sanctionable activities of the Venezuelan officials
included protecting drug shipments from seizure by Venezuelan anti-narcotics authorities,
providing weapons to the FARC, providing FARC members with official Venezuelan
government identification documents, and pushing for greater cooperation between the
Venezuelan government and the FARC, including an attempt to facilitate a loan from the
Venezuelan government to the FARC.


Additionally, in September 2008, OFAC designated eight members of the FARC’s
International Commission for providing support to the organization outside of Colombia; among
the persons designated was Orlay Jurado Palomino, the FARC International Commission
representative in Venezuela. Further, the United States has had some success in extraditing from
Venezuela traffickers designated by the Treasury Department. For example, in July and
September 2010, two OFAC-designated traffickers who were arrested in Venezuela – Beto
Renteria and Beto Marin – were successfully extradited to the United States to face criminal
charges. Renteria and Marin were leaders of the Norte del Valle Cartel, and were involved in
substantial drugs shipments into the United States, bribery and assassinations. Marin is
incarcerated in Miami awaiting the start of his September trial and faces the potential of a life
sentence if convicted. Renteria is the subject of two criminal indictments, one on narcotics
trafficking charges and the other on RICO; he too faces the potential of life imprisonment if

The use of economic sanctions against narcotics traffickers is an important piece of the
war the United States is waging on narcotics cartels and those that support them. OFAC will
continue our ongoing efforts to target and apply financial measures against narcotics traffickers
and their organizations, wherever they are located.


My office is also concerned about Venezuelan ties to terrorist groups. Specifically, we
have found limited connections between Venezuela and Lebanese Hezbollah with Hezbollah
facilitators and fundraisers operating in Venezuela. In this regard, just as in the narco-trafficking

context, OFAC has reacted swiftly when we have come upon actionable information linking
Venezuela to terrorism.

For instance, in June 2008 OFAC designated two key Venezuelan supporters of
Hezbollah, pursuant to Executive Order 13224, which targets terrorists, those owned or
controlled by or acting for or on behalf of terrorists, and those providing financial, material, or
technological support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. One of these individuals, Ghazi Nasr al
Din, had utilized his position as a senior Venezuelan diplomat and the president of a Caracas-
based Shi’a Islamic Center to provide financial support to Hezbollah. Nasr al Din served as
Chargé d’Affaires at the Venezuelan Embassy in Damascus, Syria, and was subsequently a
principal official at the Venezuelan Embassy in Lebanon. He had counseled Hezbollah donors
on fundraising efforts and provided donors with specific information on bank accounts where the
donors’ deposits would go directly to Hezbollah. Additionally, he met with senior Hezbollah
officials to discuss operational matters and even facilitated the travel of Hezbollah members to
and from Venezuela, and to attend training courses in Iran.

The second designee was Fawzi Kan’an, also a Venezuela-based Hezbollah supporter and
a significant provider of financial support to Hezbollah. Kan’an facilitated travel for Hezbollah
members and sent money raised in Venezuela to Hezbollah officials in Lebanon. Further, he had
met with senior Hezbollah officials in Lebanon to discuss operational issues, including possible
kidnappings and terrorist attacks, and traveled with other Hezbollah members to Iran for training.
In light of his role in facilitating transport, we also designated two travel agencies owned and
controlled by Kan’an.


The Treasury Department is concerned about the growing ties between Venezuela and
Iran, including burgeoning business and trade connections – which, at a time when the private
sector around the world is increasingly shunning business with Iran, are especially noteworthy
and concerning. We have, and will continue to, follow this situation vigilantly. Even more
alarming is a report from the Department of Defense concerning the increasing presence of the
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) in Latin America, particularly
Venezuela. As Treasury officials have noted with regular frequency before Congress, the IRGC-
QF, which we sanctioned in October 2007, and the broader IRGC, which was sanctioned by the
State Department at the same time, are at the vanguard of promoting the Iranian regime’s goals
both at home and abroad. To this end, they are active throughout Iranian society and across the
full range of the regime’s efforts, from working on promoting terrorism and procuring weapons,
to controlling key pillars of the Iranian economy.

As former Under Secretary Levey testified last December, Treasury has consistently used
its authorities to target the full range of Iran’s illicit and deceptive conduct by imposing sanctions
on individuals and entities facilitating Iran’s illicit behavior, encouraging robust international
implementation of UN Security Council resolutions concerning Iran’s nuclear program, and
educating foreign governments and the private sector about the impact of U.S. measures and the
risks of engaging with Iran. Indeed, since the beginning of the year, Treasury has further
increased the pressure on Iran, with numerous actions taken against Iranian human rights
abusers; entities affiliated with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL); a multi-
million dollar procurement network supporting Iran’s missile programs; and Iran’s Bank Refah

and Bank of Industry and Mine, the 20th and 21st Iranian-linked financial institutions designated
by the United States under proliferation and terrorism authorities, for providing financial services
to designated entities.

As a part of this intensive effort, we have already acted against one Venezuelan bank. In
January 2008, the Iranian government established the International Development Bank in
Caracas (Banco Internacional de Desarrollo C.A.), a subsidiary of the Tehran-based Export
Development Bank of Iran (EDBI). Shortly after Banco Desarrollo’s opening, we sanctioned the
bank under our WMD authorities in E.O. 13382 due to its relationship with EDBI. EDBI had
been designated for providing or attempting to provide financial services to Iran’s Ministry of
Defense for Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), itself designated by the State Department in
2007. We also found that since the United States and United Nations designated Bank Sepah in
early 2007, EDBI had served as one of the leading intermediaries handling Bank Sepah’s
financing, including WMD-related payments. In addition to handling business for Bank Sepah,
EDBI facilitated financing for other proliferation-related entities sanctioned under U.S. and UN
authorities. Given this dossier of troubling activities, we acted quickly against Banco Desarrollo
in order to prevent EDBI from being able to leverage any outpost in the Americas to circumvent
sanctions and continue these activities in the region.

As you know, the Treasury Department also has authorities under subsection 104(c) of
the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (“CISADA”),
which requires Treasury to issue regulations (published on August 16, 2010) to prohibit or
impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of correspondent

accounts or payable-through accounts for foreign financial institutions found to knowingly
facilitate significant transactions or provide significant financial services for the Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), for any of the IRGC’s designated agents or affiliates, or for
a financial institution designated in connection with Iran’s proliferation of WMD or delivery
systems for WMD or Iran’s support for international terrorism.

Since CISADA’s enactment, Treasury has been engaged in an aggressive outreach
campaign, briefing dozens of foreign countries, including those in Latin America, and scores of
financial institutions throughout the world, about the statute and the risks to foreign financial
institutions of continued engagement in transactions that could result in the Treasury
Department’s ordering the closing of such foreign institutions’ correspondent or payable-through
accounts in the United States. The response to Treasury’s outreach has been exceptional; the
great majority of financial institutions with which we have engaged have closed their
correspondent accounts with U.S.-designated, Iranian-linked financial institutions, thus closing
off avenues that Iran’s designated banks had relied upon to engage in financial activities.
CISADA, in short, has proved to be a very powerful tool to further isolate and pressure Iran.

Concerning Venezuela in particular, we have been looking very carefully at banking ties
between Iran and Venezuela. As is clear by our action against Banco Desarrollo, when we have
identified sanctionable activity in Venezuela, we have taken action.


Whole of Government Approach

The national security threats posed by Iran, terrorism and narcotics trafficking are
complex and no single tool or agency in the U.S. Government is sufficient to address the full
scope of the threats we face. To that end, my office, and the wider Treasury Department, has
worked very closely and consistently with colleagues at the State Department, the Justice
Department, in the intelligence community and other agencies across the full spectrum of our
sanctions work, including when it involves Venezuela or Latin America more broadly.


Our work has had a significant impact. The Venezuelan government’s erratic policies,
combined with the U.S. Government’s work to consistently and publicly expose Venezuelan
officials working with terrorists, sanctioned Iranian entities, and narcotics traffickers have made
the country a high risk jurisdiction. Our efforts continue, and we shall persist in investigating
activities implicating Venezuela. And, as we have done numerous times in the past, when
information is found, we will not hesitate to take actions against such individuals and entities,
fully leveraging the powerful authorities the Congress and the President have provided to us.
Written Testimony of
Ambassador Roger F. Noriega
Visiting Fellow, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Before a Hearing of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence
Committee on Homeland Security
U.S. House of Representatives
Thursday, July 7, 2011

“Hezbollah in Latin America: Implications for U.S. Homeland Security”

Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, I very much appreciate this opportunity to
testify before you today. I would also like to thank you and the Committee for your leadership
on this very important issue that, quite frankly, does not get the attention it deserves among the
many competing foreign threats and policy priorities.

It is well known that Hezbollah acts as a proxy for Iran — specifically, of the Qods Force
of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. These determined and deadly enemies of the United
States have made substantial progress in the last six years to expand their influence and
operations in Latin America. Their expanding activities are the result of a conscious, offensive
strategy to carry their fight to our doorstep, which receives indispensable support from the
regime of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez.

Our research — from open sources, subject-matter experts, and sensitive sources within
various governments — has identified at least two parallel terrorist networks growing at an
alarming rate in Latin America. One is operated by Hezbollah, aided by its collaborators, and
another is managed by a cadre of notorious Qods operatives. These networks cooperate to carry
out fundraising, money-laundering schemes, narcotics smuggling, proselytization, recruitment,
and training. We can identify more than 80 operatives in at least 12 countries throughout the
region (with the greatest areas of concern being Brazil, Venezuela, and the Southern Cone).

Of particular interest to this Subcommittee, no doubt, are the several published reports,
citing U.S. law enforcement and intelligence sources, that Hezbollah operatives have provided
weapons and explosives training to drug trafficking organizations that operate along the U.S.
border with Mexico and have sought to radicalize Muslim populations in several Mexican cities.
The U.S. and Mexican governments have declined to share information publicly on these cases.
(Our inquiries to at least one Mexican official about a specific arrest of a suspected Hezbollah
operative in Mexico in June 2010 were met with the response, “Don’t ask about that.”) It is clear
that this is a potential threat that has captured the attention of authorities on both sides of the
border. This Congress and the American people have the right to know how our government is
working with Mexico to meet this challenge to our common security.

Hezbollah has a very clear modus operandi that it is applying in the Americas. By
infiltrating or establishing mosques or “Islamic centers” throughout the region, Hezbollah is
spreading its influence, legitimizing its cause, and advancing its violent jihad on our doorstep. It
also is raising funds through various criminal and commercial operations, recruiting converts
from among disaffected youth and others, and developing its operational capabilities in our own

Unfortunately, the Hezbollah threat in the Americas is not new: it is implicated in the
deadly terrorist bombings in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1992 (of the Israeli Embassy) and 1994
(of a Jewish Community Center). However, today, Hezbollah’s presence in Latin America is
growing significantly with the support of the Chávez regime in Venezuela. Chávez, who has a
track record of supporting Colombian narcoterrorists, has cooperated with Iran to provide
political support, financing, or arms to Hezbollah, Hamas, or Palestinian Islamic Jihad in this
Hemisphere and elsewhere. For example, Venezuela’s Margarita Island has eclipsed the
infamous “Tri-Border Area” – the region where Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay come together
in South America – as a principal safe haven and center of Hezbollah operations in the Americas.

A key operative in the Hezbollah network in Latin America is Ghazi Atef Salameh
Nassereddine Abu Ali, a man who was born in Lebanon, became a Venezuelan citizen about 10
years ago, and now is Venezuela’s No. 2 diplomat in Syria. Along with at least two of his
brothers, he manages a network that raises and launders money and recruits and trains operatives
to expand Hezbollah’s influence in Venezuela and throughout Latin America. Nassereddine was
black-listed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in June 2008 for his fundraising and
logistical support on behalf of Hezbollah. However, testimony before the House Committee on
Foreign Affairs last month by State Department officials suggests that they are unaware of the
very important role he now is playing to expand that terrorist group’s reach beyond Venezuela.

Using his diplomatic status, Nassereddine has built and consolidated relationships with
Hezbollah officials in the Middle East, first in Lebanon and now in Syria. Meanwhile, his
brother Abdallah Nassereddine, maintains relationships in the broader Islamic community via a
multi-national organization known as the Federation of Arab and American Associations.
(FEARAB has affiliates throughout South America and the Caribbean with most regional
meetings held in Sao Paulo or Buenos Aires.) All the while, their younger brother, Oday
Nassereddine, has established a powerbase in Venezuela by setting up training operations on
Margarita Island, and is now recruiting adherents via the Circulos Bolivarianos in Barquisimeto,
170 miles southwest of Caracas. (The Circulos Bolivarianos are ubiquitous neighborhood
monitoring committees made up of the most radical followers of Hugo Chávez.)

The individual who oversees the parallel Hezbollah network on behalf of the Qods Force
is Mohsen Rabbani, a high-ranking Iranian wanted by prosecutors in Argentina for his role in the
1992 and 1994 Buenos Aires attacks. At that time, Rabbani was credentialed as a cultural
attaché at the Iranian embassy in the Argentine capital. Today, he relies on a network of
Argentine converts that he cultivated during that period to recruit operatives throughout the
region who are selected for radicalization and terrorist training in Venezuela and in Iran
(specifically, Qom).

Although Rabbani is wanted by Argentina and is the object of an Interpol “red notice,” he
travels periodically to the region. For example, Rabbani was in Venezuela in March 2011, and
in Brazil last September, where he and his brother (who lives in Brazil) have recruited dozens of
followers to their radical cause. According to sources in Brazilian intelligence, who were cited
by an investigative article in the important Brazilian magazine VEJA, at least 20 operatives from
Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, and the Islamic Jihad are using Brazil as a hub for terrorist activity.

Two of Rabbani’s favored Argentinean disciples are now operating in Chile. Sheik
Karim Abdul Paz, who studied under Rabbani in Qom, is the Imam of a cultural center in
Santiago, and Sheik Suhail Assad is a Professor at the University of Santiago. Both have
publicly stated that they are sympathetic to Hezbollah. Suhail travels frequently throughout
Central and South America, meeting with local Muslim communities.

As recently as two weeks ago, a U.S. State Department official told this Congress that
Hezbollah activity in the Western Hemisphere was confined to “fundraising” – as if that were
comforting. The fact is, that assertion grossly understates the growing Hezbollah threat in our
Hemisphere, as my foregoing testimony indicates.

Please allow me to provide some additional anecdotes to illustrate my contention that
Hezbollah is on the move in the Americas, and its activities represent a grave and growing threat
to the U.S. homeland:

x At least one member of the terrorist network plotting to detonate fuel tanks and pipelines
at New York’s JFK International Airport met with Mohsen Rabbani in Iran; he was
subsequently arrested en route to Venezuela where he planned to board a flight to
x One of Rabbani’s principal collaborators in the Americas is the Sheik Khaled Razek Tak
el-Din, a Sunni radical from the Sao Paulo Guarulhos mosque, which is linked to
members of the Treasury Department-designated Tri-Border network that provides
significant financial and logistical support to Hezbollah in Lebanon. As far back as 1995,
Tak el-Din hosted Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik
x Last spring, two Iranian Hezbollah operatives were conducting terror training on
Venezuela’s Margarita Island for persons brought there from other countries in the
region. Colombian authorities have reported to me that Hezbollah operates in areas of
their country where the narcoterrorist group FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios
de Colombia) has a presence.
x The cocaine kingpin Walid Makled, several of whose companies did business with the
Hezbollah operative and Venezuelan diplomat Ghazi Nassereddine, confirmed in a
televised interview on April 3 that Hezbollah conducts fundraising and operates cocaine
labs in Venezuela with the protection of that government.
x On November 4, 2009, Israeli commandos intercepted a shipment of grenades, Katyusha
rockets, 500,000 rounds of ammunition, and other Russian and Iranian arms aboard the
cargo vessel, Francop, which was carrying these weapons from the Venezuelan port of
Guanta to Syria, where the intended recipient was Hezbollah.
x Hugo Chávez hosted a terror summit of senior leaders of Hamas (“supreme leader”
Khaled Meshal), Hezbollah (unnamed “chief of operations”), and Palestinian Islamic
Jihad (Secretary General Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah) in Caracas on August
22, 2010. That extraordinary meeting was organized at the suggestion of Iran, and the
logistical arrangements were made by Nassereddine. In addition to the summit,
operatives from other countries gathered in Caracas to meet with these terrorist

x The Venezuelan airline, Conviasa, conducts regular flights between Caracas and
Damascus and Teheran. The Hezbollah networks use these flights and others to ferry
operatives, recruits, and cargo in and out of the region.

In summary, Mr. Chairman, due to the “official” support from some governments in
Latin America (Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and others), and the unwillingness of
others to recognize the threat, we can expect to see the Hezbollah presence in Latin America
become more active and deadly in the coming years. The apparent terminal illness of the
Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez might reduce that country’s risky support for Hezbollah;
unfortunately, that terror network has metastasized in the Americas, and our research indicates
that the most tempting target for Hezbollah in the region is Brazil, one of the world’s ten largest
economies with an estimated population of one million Muslims.

As it stands today, I believe the Hezbollah/Iranian presence in Latin America constitutes
a clear threat to the security of the U.S. homeland. They have the motivation, and they have
been steadily increasing their capacity to act. In addition to operational terrorist activity,
Hezbollah also is immersed in criminal activity throughout the region – from trafficking in
weapons, drugs, and persons — all of which threaten our security.

The more broad implication for U.S. homeland security is that Hezbollah – via Iran and
Venezuela – has engaged the United States in an offensive strategy of asymmetric warfare on our
doorstep. It is aiming to win the mental battle of attrition and the moral battle of legitimacy –
particularly with the youth in Latin America. Unless our government recognizes and responds to
their efforts, our ability to protect our interests and our homeland will be gradually and
dangerously diminished.

U.S. and other government authorities have identified and sanctioned some of the leaders
of these networks. However, recent public statements suggest that U.S. diplomats are unaware
of the increasing operations and reach of the Hezbollah network. By contrast, U.S. law
enforcement agencies – led by the Drug Enforcement Administration – have made great efforts
to assess and confront this threat by building cases against foreign officials and sanctioning
commercial entities that provide support to this criminal terror organization. However, this
dangerous network requires a whole-of-government strategy, beginning with an inter-agency
review to understand and assess the transnational, multi-faceted nature of the problem, to educate
friendly governments on what is happening, and to implement effective measures unilaterally
and with willing partners to disrupt and dismantle their operations.

If our government and responsible partners in Latin America fail to act, I believe there
will be an attack on U.S. personnel, installations or interests in the Americas as soon as
Hezbollah operatives believe that they are capable of such an operation without implicating their
Iranian sponsors in the crime.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Testimony of Bouglas Faiah
Senioi Fellow, Inteinational Assessment anu Stiategy Centei

Aujunct Fellow, Centei foi Stiategic anu Inteinational Stuuies

Befoie the Bouse Committee on Bomelanu Secuiity
Subcommittee on Counteiteiioiism anu Intelligence
0niteu State Congiess

"Bezbollah in Latin Ameiica: Implications foi 0.S. Secuiity

Iuly 7, 2u11

! "!
The thieat theiefoie is neithei iemote, uiscontinuous noi containeu, noi is it as well
unueistoou as it shoulu be. This - anu the oveiall ciiminal¡teiioiist¡compiomiseu
state challenge of which it is a pait -- iequiies moie integiateu analytical,
intelligence, uiplomatic anu secuiity appioaches uiiven by a stiategic assessment of
the thieat.

As a joint BBS anu State Bepaitment symposium concluueu:


A stiategy consiueiing all aspects as pait of a whole, iathei than sepaiateu into
lanes such as teiioiism, naicotics, WNB, thieat finance, human anu contiabanu
smuggling, eneigy, state coiiuption, anu otheis, is necessaiy.

0vei the past two yeais oi so, ianking 0.S. militaiy anu law enfoicement leaueiship
have begun to aiticulate this complex thieat, anu the neeu foi a moie
compiehensive appioach, implicitly one auequately iesouiceu anu compiising all
elements of 0.S. powei -- uiplomatic, infoimational, militaiy anu economic. The
failuie to so engage will negatively affect the 0.S. in each of those uimensions. It will
unueicut a mainstay pillai of oui secuiity, ieveise the uemociatic anu economic
gains of the 198us anu 199us Latin Ameiica uemociatization which we uiu so much
to enable anu significant cost, anu it ultimately will cost 0.S. lives, incluuing possibly
teiioiist attacks.


As my submitteu Cv inuicates, I was boin of 0.S. missionaiy paients in Latin
Ameiica, anu have woikeu theie as an investigative jouinalist, as a subject mattei
expeit, anu an auvisoi anu tiainei on uemociatic goveinance anu anti-coiiuption
issues foi some Su yeais. I biing bioau cultuial, histoiical anu opeiational
unueistanuing anu stiong netwoiks acioss the political spectium, fiom gueiilla
leaueis to Ninisteis of Iustice. With this backgiounu, I must state that my fieluwoik

"Chaii's Repoit: Tianspacific Symposium on Bismantling Tiansnational Illicit Netwoiks,"
Bepaitment of State Buieau of Inteinational Naicotics anu Law Enfoicement Affaiis, anu Bepaitment
of Bomelanu Secuiity 0.S. Immigiation anu Customs Enfoicement, Febiuaiy 2u1u, p. S.
in many uiffeient paits of Latin Ameiica ovei the past thiee yeais cleaily
establisheu that Bezbollah has uevelopeu a significant piesence in the iegion,
augmenteu by thousanus of sympathizeis who contiibute monetaiy anu non-
monetaiy iesouices to the oiganization.

This piesence has giown in scope anu sophistication ovei the past yeais as Iian's
Nahmouu Ahmauinejau has successfully built close alliances with seveial
goveinments in Latin Ameiica, leu by Bugo Chávez in venezuela. These alliances
affoiu Iian anu its pioxy elements state covei anu effective immunity foi its coveit
activities. This incluues: unfetteieu access to global banking facilities, poits anu
aiipoits: mining of piecuisoi elements foi WNB anu auvanceu weapons systems
fabiication: anu, a iegional base foi infiltiation anu contingency opeiations aimeu at
unueimining the 0.S. anu its inteiests, while also abetting coiiuption anu the
notable builuup in conventional aims manufactuiing.

These coiiosive activities, taken togethei, aie acceleiating the weakening of states --
hollowing-out of many of the fiist-geneiation uemociacies anu theii constitutional
anu civil society piocesses, anu setting a pieuicate foi a ieasseition of authoiitaiian
iule anu iuin in these states anu theii neighbois. These states' suivival anu giowth
aie ciitical to long-teim iegional anu 0.S. secuiity.

Concuiiently we see the fuithei empoweiment, tiaining anu technological suppoit
of the oppiessive secuiity appaiatuses in the incieasingly unuemociatic Bolivaiian
states pioviueu by the Iian-Bezbollah-ICRu¡0ous foices combine. 0thei outsiue
poweis, notably China anu Russia fuithei compounu these pioblems (as might, in
the futuie, the still-nascent piesence of iauical Sunni gioups ielateu to the Nuslim
Biotheihoou). Bowevei Iian, Bezbollah anu the ICRu¡0ous foices aie the shaipest
euge of this swoiu at piesent, anu the one most openly aimeu at the 0.S., anu least
tiactable to uiplomacy.

All of this comes at the expense of 0.S. influence, secuiity anu tiaue -- incluuing
eneigy secuiity anu hence economic anu infiastiuctuie secuiity (venezuela is the
laigest suppliei of 0.S. petioleum impoits, just behinu Nexico: inueeu Latin
Ameiica is oui 2
laigest souice of supply oveiall, only slightly behinu the Niuule
East). While this heaiing focuses on Bezbollah, the non-state, aimeu bianch of
iauical Shi'ite Islamists, one cannot ignoie the uiiect ielationship of this
oiganization to state sponsois. As the BIA noteu last yeai:

6&"&74&5!$|authoi emphasis]F&,+&PF9F&'#J*?J"7"#$&'#&8?*34?&=*#<?'=$+&:""H"#+-&

It is within this context of the meiging of state anu non-state aimeu actois that I
woulu like to auuiess the issue of Bezbollah in Latin Ameiica anu the thieat the
oiganization poses to the 0.S. Bomelanu. Bezbollah's giowing piesence is a
significant pait of a laigei anu moie uangeious pattein of the ciiminalization of the
self-uesciibeu "Bolivaiian" states in Latin Ameiica closely allieu with Iian. These
countiies, in tuin, suppoit anothei uesignateu teiioiist oiganization that piouuces
an estimateu 7u peicent of the woilu's cocaine anu up to 9u peicent of cocaine in
the 0niteu States - The Revolutionaiy Aimeu Foices of Colombia (B)"%Q4+&,%74:4+&

The ielationship between these 'Bolivaiian states' (venezuela, Ecuauoi, Bolivia anu
Nicaiagua) anu Iian is ciucial to unueistanuing the thieat that Bezbollah in Latin
Ameiica poses. This ielationship, among gioups espousing anu actively puisuing
seemingly iiieconcilable woilu views - theociatic Shiite Nuslim funuamentalism

Lt. uen. Ronalu L. Buigess, Ii., Biiectoi, Befense Intelligence Agency, "Iian's Nilitaiy Powei,"
Statement befoie the 0niteu States Senate Committee on Aimeu Seivices, Apiil 14, 2u1u.
"Top-ianking membei of Colombian FARC Naico-Teiioiist 0iganization Convicteu on 0.S. Biug
Chaiges, Biug Enfoicement Auministiation, Bepaitment of Iustice, Febiuaiy 2u, 2uu7. The BEA
uesciibes the FARC as a "violent naico-teiioiist gueiiilla gioup opeiating in Colombia, contiols laige
poitions of Colombia anu finances its violent conflict with the Colombian goveinment by engaging in
uiug tiafficking, augmenteu by othei means incluuing kiunapping anu extoition. Biug tiafficking is
the lifebloou of the FARC because it enables the FARC to acquiie weapons, ammunition anu
equipment necessaiy to caiiy on its violent attacks. BEA estimates that the FARC contiols
appioximately 7u peicent of the Colombian cocaine tiaue, anu appioximately 8u to 9u peicent of the
cocaine shippeu to the 0niteu States comes fiom Colombia. The FARC piouuces anu uistiibutes
thousanus of kilogiams pei month foi expoit to the 0niteu States anu othei countiies.
anu Socialism foi the 21
Centuiy - is bounu by a common aim of the asymmetiic
uefeat of the 0.S., anu a shaieu view in favoi of an authoiitaiian state that toleiates
little uissent anu encioaches on all aspects of a citizen's life. This constitutes a coie
element of the thieat.

Bezbollah's influence in Latin Ameiica extenus to the natuie of aggiession anu
uiplomacy employeu by Chavez anu his Bolivaiian comiaues. Iian anu Bezbollah
aie among the foiemost piactitioneis touay of the fianchising mouel of a state
sponsoi allocating ceitain elements of stateciaft to non-state aimeu actois involveu
in tiansnational oiganizeu ciime anu teiioiist activities.

As one stuuy noteu,


Recent heaulines ieaffiim that such Iianian pioxy aiming is a giowing souice of
lethal attacks against the 0.S. in both Iiaq anu Afghanistan piesently with the new
weapons shipments leauing uiiectly to the ueaths of Ameiican tioops.

The natuie of the thieat to the 0niteu States, then, is not meiely the uiugs in the
ciiminal pipelines anu multiple tiansnational ciiminal activities that uiiectly affect
us eveiy uay. It is the establishment of political anu financial influence anu militaiy
piesence by Bezbollah, a teiioiist oiganization that enjoys the state sponsoiship of
Iian anu, to a lessei uegiee, Syiia, in conceit with states that aie hospitable to its
movements anu that aie ieplicating its mouel, paiticulaily south of oui boiuei.

A cential common element between Iian anu its Bolivaiian allies is the willingness
to use non-state allies paiticipating in ciiminal anu teiioiist activities as
instiuments of stateciaft. As the BIA noteu, the 0ous Foice suppoits pioxy foices
while ietaining plausible ueniability, anu the piimaiy foice is Bezbollah. venezuela,

Anthony B. Coiuesman, "Iian's Revolutionaiy uuaius, the al 0uus Foice, anu othei Intelligence anu
Paiamilitaiy Foices (Woiking Biaft)," Centei foi Stiategic anu Inteinational Stuuies, August 16, 2uu7.
See foi example: Iay Solomon, "Iian Funnels New Weapons to Iiaq anu Afghanistan," Wall Stieet
Iouinal, Iuly 2, 2u11,
in tuin, also hosts not only the FARC, but the ETA Basque sepaiatist teiioiist
oiganization, the Bolivaiian Continental Novement (!"#$%$&'(")*"'($'&'(+,)

The NCB is a FARC-founueu political umbiella gioup maue up of iemnants of Latin
Ameiica's violent Naixist movements anu its allies in Euiope, the 0niteu States anu
Latin Ameiica. The coie mission of the gioup is to legitimize the FARC's inteinal anu
inteinational image as a ievolutionaiy aimy uiiven by iueology iathei than a
ciiminal oiganization fuelleu by the uiug tiaue. It also is a staunch uefenuei of
Chávez anu his Bolivaiian allies anu a favoiite foium foi calling foi aimeu action
against the 0niteu States anu foi aimeu ievolution against the uemociatically
electeu goveinment of Colombia.

0ne thing both Bezbollah anu the FARC have is common is a uemonstiateu
willingness to woik with outsiue gioups that uo not shaie theii same iueology oi
theology, but who shaie a common enemy.

An impoitant element in the ciiminalizeu ielationships among all these gioups aie
the "pipelines" oi seiies of oveilapping pipelines that these state anu non-state
actois neeu to move piouucts, money, weapons, peisonnel anu goous viitually
anywheie anu at anytime, without uetection anu foi enoimous piofits

These pipelines aie peihaps best unueistoou as a seiies of iecombinant chains
whose links can couple anu ue-couple as necessaiy to meet the best inteiests of the
netwoiks involveu. In the cuiient context I am uiscussing state anu non-state
ciiminal¡teiioiist oiganizations who aie able to move goous fiom Iian acioss the
noithein tiei of South Ameiica, thiough Cential Ameiica anu Nexico anu penetiate
oui boiueis with impunity.

The ciiminalization of multiple states in oui hemispheie, acting in conceit, is a
thieat acioss many obvious anu less obvious fionts. But the seiiousness of the
thieat giows enoimously when the cential element these goveinments anu theii
aimeu non-state pioxies Bezbollah anu the FARC shaie is a hatieu foi the 0niteu
States anu a publicly stateu uesiie to inflict significant uamage on the Bomelanu.
This is the ieality we face. These gioups togethei, as have access to hunuieus of
millions of uollais in illicit ievenues annually, anu billions of uollais moie in state
ievenues that aie allocateu without tianspaiency oi inteinal supeivision anu
accountability in iespect of theii nominally uemociatic host polities.

As I will uesciibe in uetail, they shaie a uoctiine of asymmetiical waifaie against the
0niteu States that embiaces the use of weapons of mass uestiuction, massive

Foi a fullei uiscussion of the ciiminalization of these states anu the iole of non-state aimeu actois
see: Bouglas Faiah, "Teiioiist-Ciiminal Pipelines anu Ciiminalizeu States: Emeiging Thieats," PRISN,
National Befense 0niveisity, PRISN 2, no. S, pp 1S-S2.
civilian casualties as acceptable collateial uamage anu the unueilying belief that the
acquisition of nucleai weapons to uestioy the 0niteu States is a moial oi ieligious
impeiative. This is not a statement of capacity, but a cleai statement of intention.

The fiist uoes not necessaiily imply the ability to accomplish the lattei, but it is an
inuication that these intentions neeu to be taken seiiously, paiticulaily given the
level of iesouices available to them. Bezbollah, vieweu by many in oui intelligence
community as the most effective, well-stiuctuieu anu militaiily pioficient teiioiist
gioup in existence, biings a host of skills anu abilities to beai in this iegaiu. While
these capabilities hau been ueployeu in oui hemispheie befoie with lethal effect
(the 1994 ANIA bombing), they have not been pieviously ueployeu unuei the
piotection of a netwoik of fiienuly goveinments, with access to uiplomatic status
anu immunity anu opeiational fieeuom.

Last month a senioi venezuelan official publicly enuoiseu the Iianian position that
the 0niteu States "aims inteinational teiioiists anu finances theii activities." Be
auueu that "uisciimination anu humiliation of nations is the piimaiy cause of
teiioiism.the type of teiioiism implementeu by impeiial poweis attacks the
soveieignty of nations anu the laws that iegulate aimeu conflicts."

0ne neeu only look at how iapiuly Iian has incieaseu its uiplomatic, economic anu
intelligence piesence in Latin Ameiica to see the piioiity it places on this emeiging
axis, given that it is an aiea wheie it has viitually no tiaue, no histoiic oi cultuial
ties anu no obvious stiategic inteiests. In Bolivia iecently the Iianian embassy
iepoiteuly askeu foi moie than two uozen spaces foi in the inteinational school foi
chiluien of theii newly-aiiiveu uiplomats theie. This is an inuication of how iapiuly
the uiplomatic mission is expanuing uespite having veiy few oveit opeiations unuei

The gains -- in financial institutions, bilateial tiaue agieements, state to state
shipping by lanu anu sea that unueigo no outsiue ieview, secuiity foices anu
intelligence tiaining, anu state visits foi Latin Ameiica (eight state visits between
Chávez anu Ahmauinejau alone since 2uu6) -- aie almost entiiely within the
Bolivaiian oibit (although theie aie signs of involvement elsewheie in both Cential
anu Latin Ameiica, paiticulaily effoits with mixeu iesults to establish bioau new
ties with Biazil).

What is of paiticulai concein is that many of the agieements signeu, such as the
agieement to cieate a ueuicateu shipping line between Iian anu Ecuauoi, visa-fiee
flights to anu fiom Caiacas, Tehian anu Bamascus,oi the announceu intention of the
inteinationally sanctioneu Economic Bevelopment Bank of Iian (EBBI) to ueposit

Fiank Lopez Ballesteios, "venezuela e Iián unen su vision sobie teiioiismo," El 0niveisal, Iune 27,
2u11, accesseu at: http:¡¡¡2u11¡u6¡27¡venezuela-e-iian-unen-su-
$12u million uollais in the Cential Bank of Ecuauoi, follow no noimal economic

The 0FAC uesignation of the Iianian bank states that:


The Bolivaiian states have jointly ueclaieu theii intention to help Iian bieak
inteinational sanctions, holuing a joint piess confeience in Tehian to announce
theii ueteimination to "continue anu expanu theii economic ties to Iian" with
confiuence that "Iian can give a ciushing iesponse to the thieats anu sanctions
imposeu by the West anu impeiialism."
- by which they piimaiily mean the 0niteu

The multiple mining activities of iauioactive elements, the significant investment in
financial institutions, the ieciuitment anu tiaining of peisonnel fiom acioss the
iegion by both venezuela anu Iian, anu the constant high-level contact among the
Bolivaiian leaueis anu Iian all inuicate a uesiie on the pait of both paities (Iian anu
the Bolivaiian states) to foim a mutually beneficial anu self-ieinfoicing alliance.

Foi a moie complete look at Iian's piesence in Latin Ameiica, see: Bouglas Faiah, "Iian in Latin
Ameiica: An 0veiview," Iian in Latin Ameiica: Thieat oi Axis of Annoyance," Woouiow Wilson
Inteinational Centei foi Scholais, Cynthia I. Ainson et al, euitois, Iune 2uu9, accesseu Ianuaiy 21,
2u11, at: http:¡¡¡pufs¡2uu9u62u_BFIianinLatAmIune2uu9-1.puf
Foi a look at the anomalies in the economic ielations anu banking ielations, see Bouglas Faiah anu
ulenn Simpson, "Ecuauoi at Risk: Biug, Thugs, uueiiillas anu the 'Citizens' Revolution,'" Inteinational
Assessment anu Stiategy Centei, Ianuaiy 2u1u. The EBBI was sanctioneu by the 0.S. Tieasuiy
Bepaitment's 0ffice of Foieign Assets Contiol foi violating sanctions in iegaius to nucleai
piolifeiation activities anu aiuing the IRuC.
0niteu States Bepaitment of Tieasuiy, "Expoit Bevelopment Bank of Iian Besignateu as a
Piolifeiatoi," Piess office of the 0ffice of Foieign Assets Contiol, 0ctobei 22, 2uu8. 0FAC also
uesignateu a sistei bank of EBBI opeiating in venezuela as the Banco Inteinacional ue Besaiiollo
(BIB). In the N00 between Ecuauoi's cential bank anu EBBI, the EBBI offeis to open a bianch office
of BIB in Ecuauoi as well.
"venezuela¡Iian Alba Resolveu to Continue Economic Ties with Iian," Financial Times Infoimation
Seivice, Iuly 1S, 2u1u.
As noteu above, of paiticulai concein aie the cieuible iepoits of ongoing anu
extensive Iianian tiaining anu equipping of the intelligence seivices of the
Boliviaiian states, paiticulaily venezuela, Bolivia anu Ecuauoi. This incluues both
equipment, piimaiily foi communications inteicepts, anu tiaining tiips of
Bolivaiian state officials anu militaiy-age youth cauies to Iian.

It is also notable that in Bolivia anu Ecuauoi, knowleugeable souices iepoiteu a
significant inciease in the Iianian militaiy attaches being assigneu to the iegion.
This is unusual as the countiies have tiauitionally have hau little militaiy
inteiaction, anu an inuication of the incieasing militaiy-to-militaiy ties that aie
ueveloping. It is also woith noting that Bezbollah's entie into countiies is often
thiough the offices of the militaiy attaches unuei uiplomatic covei, who often
opeiate as a sepaiate entity within the embassies.


Befoie going into the oiigins of this seemingly paiauoxical alliance, it is impoitant to
note that the ielationships Bezbollah has uevelopeu with ciiminal anu teiioiist
gioups in Latin Ameiica has escalateu fiom one of mutual accommouation anu
benefit in the spheies of money launueiing, contiabanu anu financing to a moie
uiiect anu ueauly foims of collaboiation.

Theie has been significant anu well uocumenteu iepoiting on Bezbollah's financial
ties to the contiabanu centei of the Tii-Boiuei iegion of Paiaguay, Aigentina anu
Biazil, the contiibutions of the Lebanese uiaspoia communities on Isla Naigaiita
anu elsewheie, anu the significant piofits Bezbollah has ueiiveu foi some time by
taxing a iange of illicit activities among the Lebanese uiaspoia communities.

This type of activity, in many ways, was little uiffeient fiom that of many othei
tiansnational ciiminal netwoiks, anu was laigely financial. Bowevei, the 1994
Iianian goveinment-sponsoieu bombing of the ANIA builuing in Buenos Aiies,
Aigentina, using Bezbollah opeiatives in the Tii-Boiuei iegion, is a poweiful
ieminuei that these gioups can anu uo opeiate militaiily in Latin Ameiica.

Theie is now giowing eviuence of the meiging of the Bolivaiian Revolution's
ciiminal-teiioiist pipeline activities anu those of the ciiminal-teiioiist pipeline of
iauical Islamist gioups (Bezbollah in paiticulai) suppoiteu by the Iianian iegime,
This piesages a seiies of new secuiity challenges foi the 0niteu States anu its allies
in Latin Ameiica.

Cuiiently theie aie cases being piosecuteu in the 0niteu States that sheu new light
on uiiect cocaine-foi-weapons ueals between Bezbollah opeiatives anu the FARC.

0ne case that illustiates the bieauth of the emeiging alliances between ciiminal anu
teiioiist gioups is 0peiation Titan, executeu by Colombian anu 0.S. officials in 2uu8
anu still ongoing. Colombian anu 0.S. officials, aftei a 2-yeai investigation,
uismantleu a uiug tiafficking oiganization that stietcheu fiom Colombia to Panama,
Nexico, the 0niteu States, Euiope anu the Niuule East. Nost of the uiugs oiiginateu
with the FARC in Colombia, anu some of the pioceeus weie tiaceu thiough a
Lebanese expatiiate netwoik, to the funuing Bezbollah.

Colombian anu 0.S. officials allege that one of the key money launueieis in the
stiuctuie, Chekiy Baib, AKA "Taliban", acteu as the cential go-between among Latin
Ameiican uiug tiafficking oiganizations anu Niuule Eastein iauical gioups,
piimaiily Bezbollah. Among the gioups paiticipating togethei in Baib's opeiation in
Colombia weie membeis of the Noithein valley Caitel, iight-wing paiamilitaiy
gioups anu the FARC, uemonstiating the ecumenical auaptive natuie of Bezbollah's
ciiminal associations anu of the 'iecombinant netwoiks' system.

0thei iecent cases incluue:

• In 2uu8, 0FAC uesignateu senioi venezuelan uiplomats foi facilitating the
funuing of Bezbollah.

0ne of those uesignateu, uhazi Nasi al Bin, seiveu as the chaige u'affaiies of
the venezuelan embassy in Bamascus, anu then seiveu in the venezuelan
embassy in Lonuon. Accoiuing to the 0FAC statement in late Ianuaiy 2uu8, al
Bin facilitateu the tiavel of two Bezbollah iepiesentatives of the Lebanese
pailiament to solicit uonations anu announce the opening of a Bezbollah-
sponsoieu community centei anu office in venezuela.

The seconu inuiviuual, Fawzi Kan'an, is uesciibeu as a venezuela-baseu
Bezbollah suppoitei anu a "significant pioviuei of financial suppoit to
Bezbollah." Be met with senioi Bezbollah officials in Lebanon to uiscuss
opeiational issues, incluuing possible kiunappings anu teiioiist attacks.

• In Apiil 2uu9 police on the islanu of Cuiacao aiiesteu 17 people foi allegeu
involvement in cocaine tiafficking with some of the pioceeus then funneleu
thiough Niuule Eastein banks to Bezbollah.

While much of 0peiation Titan iemains classifieu, theie has been significant open souice
iepoiting, in pait because the Colombian goveinment announceu the most impoitant aiiests. See:
Chiis Kiaul anu Sebastian Rotella, "Colombian Cocaine Ring Linkeu to Bezbollah," Los Angeles Times,
0ct. 22, 2uu8: anu "Poi Lavai Activos ue Naicos y Paiamilitaies, Captuiauos Integiantes ue
0iganizacion Inteinacional," Fiscalia ueneial ue la Republica (Colombia), 0ct. 21, 2uu8.
"Tieasuiy Taigets Bizbullah in venezuela," 0niteu States Bepaitment of Tieasuiy Piess Centei,
Iune 18, 2uu8, http:¡¡¡piess-centei¡piess-ieleases¡Pages¡hp1uS6.aspx
0ilanuo Cuales, "17 aiiesteu in Cuiacao on suspicion of uiug tiafficking links with Bezbollah,"
Associateu Piess, Apiil 29, 2uu9
• A Iuly 6, 2uu9 inuictment of Iamal Youssef in the 0.S. Southein Bistiict of
New Yoik alleges that the uefenuant, a foimei Syiian militaiy officei aiiesteu
in Bonuuias, sought to sell weapons to the FARC - weapons he claimeu came
fiom Bezbollah, anu weie going to be pioviueu by a ielative in Nexico.

Such ielationships between non-state anu state actois pioviue numeious benefits to
both. In Latin Ameiica, foi example, the FARC anu its non-state allies such as ETA,
iemnants of the Iiish Republican Aimy anu otheis gain access to venezuelan
teiiitoiy without feai of iepiisals, gain access to venezuelan iuentification
uocuments, anu, peihaps most impoitantly, access to ioutes foi expoiting cocaine to
Euiope anu the 0niteu States while using the same ioutes to impoit quantities of
sophisticateu weapons anu communications equipment. In ietuin, the Chávez
goveinment offeis state piotection anu ieaps iewaius in the foim of financial
benefits foi inuiviuuals anu as institutional anu mateiiel benefits ueiiveu fiom the
cocaine anu contiabanu tiaue.

Iian, whose banks aie laigely baiieu fiom the Westein financial systems, benefits
fiom access to the inteinational financial maiket thiough venezuelan, Ecuauoian
anu Bolivian financial institutions, which act as pioxies by moving Iianian money as
if it oiiginateu in theii own, unsanctioneu financial systems.
venezuela also agieeu
to pioviue Iian with 2u,uuu baiiels of gasoline a uay -- leauing to 0.S. sanctions
against the state petioleum company PBvSA eailiei this yeai.

While the ties between Iian anu Bezbollah aie geneially accepteu, theie is a
ieluctance in some paits of the policy community to acknowleuge the similai type of
ielationship that venezuela anu othei Bolivaiian states have with the FARC.

Theie is abunuant eviuence establishing Chávez's uiiect anu peisonal involvement
with the FARC, along with senioi militaiy anu political officials, I will list only some
of them.

0FAC has uesignateu numeious senioi venezuelan officials, incluuing the heaus of
two national intelligence seivices, as teiioiist suppoiteis foi uiiect suppoit of the
FARC in the acquisition of weapons anu uiug tiafficking.
Among those uesignateu

0niteu States Bistiict Couit, Southein Bistiict of New Yoik, The 0niteu States of Ameiica v Iamal
Yousef, Inuictment, Iuly 6, 2uu9.
Foi a look at how the Ecuauoian anu venezuelan banks function as pioxies foi Iian, paiticulaily
the Economic Bevelopment Bank of Iian, sanctioneu foi its illegal suppoit of Iian's nucleai piogiam,
anu the Banco Inteinacional ue Besaiiollo, see: Faiah anu Simpson, op cit.
0ffice of the Spokesman, "Seven Companies Sanctioneu 0nuei Amenueu Iian Sanctions Act," 0.S.
Bepaitment of State, Nay 24, 2u11, http:¡¡¡i¡pa¡pis¡ps¡2u11¡uS¡1641S2.htm
Among those uesignateu weie Bugo Aimanuo Caivajal, uiiectoi of venezuela's Nilitaiy
Intelligence Biiectoiate foi his "assistance to the FARC, (incluuing) piotecting uiug shipments fiom
seizuie": Beniy ue Iesus Rangel Silva, uiiectoi of venezuela's Biiectoiate of Intelligence anu
Pievention Seivices foi "mateiially assisting the naicotics activities of the FARC": anu Ramon Emilio

aie Bugo Aimanuo Caivajál, uiiectoi of venezuelan Nilitaiy Intelligence: Beniy ue
Iesus Rangél, uiiectoi of the venezuelan Biiectoiate of Intelligence anu Pievention
Seivices: anu Ramon Emilio Rouiiguez Chacin, foimei ministei of justice anu foimei
ministei of inteiioi--weie iesponsible foi "mateiially suppoiting the FARC, a naico-
teiioiist oiganization."

The uesignation statement accuseu Caivajál anu Rangel of piotecting FARC cocaine
shipments moving thiough venezuela, anu saiu Rouiiguez Chacin, who iesigneu his
goveinment position just a few uays befoie the uesignations, was the "venezuelan
goveinment's main weapons contact foi the FARC."
In Novembei 2u1u Rangel was
piomoteu to the oveiall commanuei of the venezuelan aimeu foices.

Senioi officials in Ecuauoi anu Bolivia have also been publicly tieu both to the FARC
anu the FARC's uiug tiafficking activities. In Ecuauoi, a senioi cabinet official met
iepeateuly with FARC leaueis anu theie is stiong eviuence that the Coiiea campaign
ieceiveu seveial hunuieu thousanu uollais in uonations fiom the FARC.
In Bolivia,
senioi membeis of piesiuent Evo Noiales' NAS paity have woikeu closely with the
anu a senioi police commanuei who ian the elite countei-naicotics unit was
iecently aiiesteu foi tiafficking cocaine anu extiauiteu to the 0niteu States.


As noteu, the Chávez mouel of allying with state sponsois of teiioiism such as Iian
while sponsoiing violent non-state teiioiist oiganizations involveu in ciiminal
activities anu teiioiism stiongly iesembles the template useu by Bezbollah anu Iian.

Rouiiguez Chacin, at the time venezuela's ministei of inteiioi anu justice, uesciibeu as "the
venezuelan goveinment's main weapons contact foi the FARC." See the full uesignation at:
"Tieasuiy Taigets venezuelan uoveinment 0fficials Suppoit of the FARC," 0.S. Tieasuiy
Bepaitment 0ffice of Public Affaiis, Sept. 12, 2uu8. The uesignations came on the heels of the
uecision of the Bolivian goveinment of Evo Noiales to expel the 0.S. ambassauoi, allegeuly foi
suppoiting aimeu movements against the Noiales goveinment. In soliuaiity, Chavez then expelleu
the 0.S. ambassauoi to venezuela. In auuition to the uesignations of the venezuelan officials, the
0niteu States also expelleu the venezuelan anu Bolivian ambassauois to Washington.
"Chávez Shoies up Nilitaiy Suppoit," Stiatfoi, Novembei 12, 2u1u.
Foi a moie complete look at the uocumentation of the Coiiea anu Chávez ties to the FARC see:
"The FARC Files: venezuela, Ecuauoi anu the Seciet Aichive of 'Raul Reyes,'" Inteinational Institute
foi Stiategic Stuuies, Nay 2u11, http:¡¡www.iiss.oig¡publications¡stiategic-uossieis¡the-faic-files-
venezuela-ecuauoi-anu-the-seciet-aichive-of-ial-ieyes¡: Faiah anu Simpson, op cit.: Fiancisco
Bueita Nontalvo et al, "Infoime Comision ue Tianspaiencia y veiuau: Caso Angostuia," Becembei
1u, 2uu9.
Foi uetails see: Bouglas Faiah, "Into the Abyss: Bolivia 0nuei Evo Noiales anu the NAS,"
Inteinational Assessment anu Stiategy Centei, Iune 17, 2uu9,
Naitin Aiostegui, "Biug Scanual Shakes Bolivia," Wall Stieet Iouinal, Naich S, 2u11.
In oiuei to unueistanu the ielationship, it is impoitant to unueistanu the thinking of
two significant iueological influences in the woilu of Bugo Chávez about what they
view as the seminal event in goal of uestioying the 0niteu States. That event was the
1979 Iianian Revolution.

While Iian's ievolutionaiy iuleis view the 1979 ievolution in theological teims as a
miiacle of uivine inteivention in which the 0niteu States, as the uieat Satan was
uefeateu, the Boliviaiians view it fiom a seculai point of view as ioaumap to uefeat
the 0niteu State as the evil Empiie.

Among the fiist to aiticulate the possible meiging of iauical Shi'ite Islamic thought
with Naixist aspiiations of uestioying capitalism anu 0.S. hegemony was Illich
Sánchez Ramiiez, bettei known as the teiioiist leauei Cailos the Iackal, a
venezuelan citizen who was, until his aiiest in 1994, one of the woilu's most
wanteu teiioiists. In his wiitings, Sánchez Ramiiez espouses Naixism tieu to
ievolutionaiy, violent Palestinian upiisings, anu, in the eaily 2uuus aftei becoming a
Nuslim, militant Islamism.

In his 2uuS book Revolutionaiy Islam, wiitten fiom piison wheie he is seiving a life
sentence foi killing two Fiench policemen, Sánchez Ramiiez piaises 0sama bin
Lauen anu the 9-11 attacks on the 0niteu States as a "lofty feat of aims" anu pait of a
justifieu "aimeu stiuggle" of Islam against the West. "Fiom now on teiioiism is
going to be moie oi less a uaily pait of the lanuscape of youi iotting uemociacies,"
he wiote.

In this context, the iepeateu, public piaise of Chávez foi Sánchez Ramiiez can be
seen as a ciucial element of the Bolivaiian iueology, anu an embiacing of teiioiist
tactics to achieve justifiable enus. Chávez oiueieu his ambassauoi to Fiance to seek
the ielease of Sánchez Ramiiez anu on multiple occasions, incluuing many times
aftei 9¡11, iefeiieu to the convicteu teiioiist as a "fiienu" anu "tiue
In a 1999 lettei to Sánchez Ramiiez, Chávez gieeteu the teiioiist
as a "Bistinguisheu Compatiiot" anu wiote that


"'Iackal' book piaises bin Lauen," BBC News, Iune 26, 2uuS.
See, foi example: Associateu Piess, "Chavez: 'Cailos the Iackal' a 'uoou Fiienu'" Iune S, 2uu6.

In fact, the Bolivaiian fascination with the militant Islamist thought anu Naixism uiu
not enu with the fiienuship between Chávez anu the jaileu teiioiist. Acolytes of
Sánchez Ramiiez continueu to uevelop his iueology of Naixism anu iauical Islamism
iooteu in theii inteipietation of the Iianian ievolution.

Since 2uuS, Chávez has iewiitten venezuela's secuiity uoctiine to sciub it of all
outsiue (meaning 0.S.), "impeiialist" influences. To ieplace the olu uoctiine, Chávez
anu the venezuelan militaiy leaueiship have focuseu on ueveloping a uoctiine
centeieu on asymmetiical waifaie, in the belief that the piimaiy thieat to
venezuelan secuiity is a 0.S. invasion.

The emeiging militaiy uoctiine of the "Bolivaiian Revolution," officially auopteu in
venezuela anu iapiuly spieauing to Bolivia, Nicaiagua anu Ecuauoi, explicitly
embiaces the iauical Islamist mouel of asymmetiical oi "fouith geneiation waifaie,"
anu its heavy ieliance on suiciue bombings anu uiffeient types of teiioiism,
incluuing the use of nucleai weapons. This is occuiiing at a time when Bezbollah's
piesence in Latin Ameiica is giowing anu becoming moie iuentifiable.

The main book Chávez has auopteu as his militaiy uoctiine is Peiipheial Waifaie
anu Revolutionaiy Islam: 0iigins, Rules anu Ethics of Asymmetiical Waifaie (;4$..("
>$.-#?.-8("*"$%"!+%()"@$90%48-02(.-0A"B.C3$2$+:"@$3%(+"*"D&-8("5$"%(";4$..("E+-)?&.-8( )
by the Spanish politician anu iueologue Ioige veistiynge.
The tiact is a
continuation of anu exploiation of Sánchez Ramiiez's thoughts, incoipoiating an

Paul Reyes (tianslatoi) anu Bugo Chávez, "Ny Stiuggle," fiom a Naich 2S, 1999 lettei to Illich
Ramiiez Sánchez, the venezuelan teiioiist known as Cailos the Iackal, fiom venezuelan piesiuent
Bugo Chavez in iesponse to a pievious lettei fiom Raimiiez, who is seiving a life sentence in Fiance
foi muiuei. Baipei's, 0ctobei 1999, http:¡¡haipeis.oig¡aichive¡1999¡1u¡uu6u674
In auuition to 0peiation Titan theie have been numeious inciuents in the past 18 months of
opeiatives being uiiectly linkeu to Bezbollah have been iuentifieu oi aiiesteu in venezuela, Colombia,
uuatemala, Aiuba anu elsewheie in Latin Ameiica.
veistiynge, boin in Noiocco to Belgian anu Spanish paients, began his political caieei on the fai
iight of the Spanish political spectium as a uisciple of Nanuel Fiaga, anu seiveu in seveial senioi
paity posts with the Alianza Populai. By his own aumission he then migiateu to the Socialist Paity,
but nevei iose thiough the ianks. Be is wiuely associateu with iauical anti-globalization views anu
anti-0.S. ihetoiic, iepeateuly stating that the 0niteu States is cieating a new global empiie anu must
be uefeateu. Although he has no militaiy tiaining oi expeiience, he has wiitten extensively on
asymmetiical waifaie.
explicit enuoisement of the use of weapons of mass uestiuction to uestioy the
0niteu States.

Although he is not a Nuslim anu the book was not wiitten uiiectly in ielation to the
venezuelan expeiience, veistiynge lauus iauical Islam foi helping to expanu the
paiameteis of what iiiegulai waifaie shoulu encompass, incluuing the use of
biological anu nucleai weapons, along with the coiielateu civilian casualties among
the enemy.

Cential to veistiynge's iuealizeu view of teiioiists is the belief in the sacieuness of
the willingness of the fighteis to saciifice theii lives in puisuit of theii goals. Befoie
wiiting extensively on how to make chemical weapons anu listing helpful places to
finu infoimation on the manufactuie of iuuimentaiy nucleai bombs that "someone
with a high school euucation coulu make," veistiynge wiites:


veistiynge, op cit., pp. S6-S7.

In a Becembei 12, 2uu8 inteiview with venezuelan state television, veistiynge
lauueu 0sama bin Lauen anu al 0aeua foi cieating a new type of waifaie that is "ue-
teiiitoiializeu, ue-stateizeu anu ue-nationalizeu," a wai wheie suiciue bombeis act
as "atomic bombs foi the pooi."

Baseu on this book, veistiynge was inviteu by Chávez to give the keynote auuiess to
militaiy leaueis in a 2uuS confeience titleu "Fiist Nilitaiy Foium on Fouith
ueneiation Waifaie anu Asymmetiic Conflict" helu at the venezuelan militaiy
acauemy. Following the confeience uen. Raúl Bauuel, the aimy commanuei anu
Chávez confiuant, oiueieu a special pocket-size euition of the book to be piinteu up
anu uistiibuteu thioughout the officei coips with explicit oiueis that it be stuuieu
covei to covei.

This iueological fiamewoik of Naixism anu iauical Islamic methouology foi
successfully attacking the 0niteu States is an impoitant, though little examineu,
unueipinning foi the gieatly enhanceu ielationships among the Bolivaiian states
anu Iian anu theii iespective non-state pioxies, most piominently Bezbollah.

Foi Iian the benefits aie numeious, paiticulaily in builuing alliances with nations to
bieak its inteinational isolation. But it also affoius the oppoitunity to mine stiategic
mineials foi its missile anu nucleai piogiams, position 0uus Foice anu
Revolutionaiy uuaiu opeiatives unuei uiplomatic covei, gieatly expanu anu
enhance its intelligence gatheiing, anu opeiate state-to-state enteipiises that allow
foi the movement of just about any type of goous anu mateiial, anu moie geneially
acclimate to opeiations in Latin Ameiica, incluuing those aimeu towaiu the 0.S.

0ne glimpse at the type of shipments such a ielationship can useu foi came to light
in 2uu9, when Tuikish authoiities ianuomly inspecteu some ciates being shippeu
fiom Iian to venezuela at the poit of Neisin. The 22 ciates weie labeleu "tiactoi
paits" but in fact caiiieu equipment foi establishing a laboiatoiy foi manufactuiing


As cocaine tiafficking ioutes shift significantly to tiansit West Afiica en ioute to the
Euiopean maiket, theie is anothei avenue opening foi Bezbollah in Latin Ameiica
anu potential ties to the FARC.

Baitolomé, op cit. See also: Iohn Sweeny, "Ioige veistiynge: The uuiu of Bolivaiian Asymmetiic
Waifaie,", Sept. 9, 2uuS: anu "Tioops uet Piovocative Book," Niami Beialu, Nov. 11,
Foi a moie complete uiscussion of how veistiynge's concepts fit into Chávez's concept of the
Bolivaiian ievolution see: Naiiáno Césai Baitolomé, "Las uueiias Asimétiicas y ue Cuaita
ueneiacion Bentio Bel Pensamiento venezolano en Nateiia ue Seguiiuau y Befensa, (Asymmetiical
anu Fouith ueneiation Waifaie In venezuelan Secuiity anu Befense Thinking), Nilitaiy Review,
Ianuaiy-Febiuaiy 2uu8, pp. S1-62.
"Tuikey holus suspicious Iian-venezuela shipment," Associateu Piess, Iune 1, 2uu9.

The movement of uiugs, paiticulaily cocaine, thiough West Afiica is the piouuct of
seveial uevelopments in the oveiall uiug tiaue, anu the consequences aie alieauy
uevastating, as shown by the new wave of political instability anu the cieation of the
continent's fiist tiue "naico-states."

The FARC has a well-establisheu netwoik, incluuing financial hanuleis, alieauy
establisheu in Euiope, paiticulaily in Spain, wheie a goou poition of the cocaine
enteis the Euiopean 0nion. The oiganization also maintains a piesence on the
giounu in West Afiica to hanule uiug shipments, a iole uemonstiateu in a high-
piofile seiies of busts by the BEA in Libeiia.
Bezbollah, as uiscusseu below, has a
long histoiy in West Afiica anu contiols most of the illicit tiaue pipelines in the

It is inteiesting to note that most of the laigest cocaine busts in West Afiica have
come aboaiu aiiciaft that uepaiteu fiom venezuela.
Since Chávez expelleu the
Biug Enfoicement Auministiation fiom venezuela in 2uu6, anu has halteu all
countei-naicotics coopeiation, 0.S. officials uesciibe venezuela as a "black hole."
Not only uoes the venezuelan goveinment's attituue encouiage uiug tiafficking by
the FARC anu otheis,
but venezuela's geogiaphic pioximity to West Afiica make it

Foi a moie complete look at this tienu see: Bouglas Faiah, "Confionting Biug Tiafficking in West
Afiica," Testimony befoie the Senate Foieign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Afiican Affaiis,
Iune 2S, 2uu9.
See Faiah, PRISN, op cit: anu Benjamin Weisei anu William K. Rashbaum, "Libeiian 0fficials
Woikeu with 0.S. Agency to Block Biug Tiaffic," The New Yoik Times, Iune 2, 2u1u.
Among the laigest was the Nay 1, 2uu7 seizuie of 6Su kilogiams of cocaine aboaiu a Cessna
aiiciaft in Nouhabiuou, Nauiitania. The aiiplane's uPS showeu it hau taken off fiom venezuelan
teiiitoiy. See: "Cocaine Tiafficking in Westein Afiica: Situation Repoit," 0N0BC, 0ctobei 2uu7, pg. 9.
In Iuly 2uu8 anothei aiiciaft with 6uu kilogiams of cocaine anu using a false Reu Cioss emblem on its
tail, was seizeu in Sieiia Leone. Anothei case in 2u1u inteicepteu 4,uuu kilos that was to be flown
fiom venezuela to Noniovia, Libeiia. See: "Nanhattan 0.S. Attoiney Chaiges Thiee al 0aeua
Associates with Conspiiing to Tianspoit Cocaine thiough Afiica foi the FARC," PR Newswiie,
Becembei 18, 2uu9: Faiah, PRISN, op. cit.
The most uiamatic iecent ievelations of the complicity of senioi venezuelan officials in the
cocaine tiaue came in the case of Waliu Nakleu, the allegeu link between the FARC anu Bezbollah foi
uiug tiafficking activities. Nakleu was a well-known financial suppoitei of Chávez who was
uesignateu a majoi uiug tiafficking kingpin by the 0niteu States. Nakleu was aiiesteu in Colombia in
0ctobei 2u1u, wheie he gave uetails of his monthly payments, totaling moie than $1 million, to
senioi venezuelan militaiy officials, family membeis of sitting cabinet officials anu othei senioi
officials. The Colombian uecision to extiauite Nakleu to venezuela iathei than the 0niteu States
causeu significant tension between the two countiies anu piobably means that the bulk of the
eviuence he claims to possess will nevei see the light of uay. Among the uocuments he piesenteu in
piison weie checks of his casheu by senioi geneials anu goveinment officials anu viueos of what
appeai to be senioi goveinment officials in his home uiscussing cash tiansactions. Foi uetails of the
case see: Iosé ue Coiuoba anu Baicy Ciowe, "0.S. Losing Big Biug Catch," The Wall Stieet Iouinal,
Apiil 1, 2u11: "Nanhattan 0.S. Attoiney Announces Inuictment of one of Woilu's Nost Significant
Naicotics Kingpins," 0niteu States Attoiney, Southein Bistiict of New Yoik, Novembei 4, 2u1u.

an iueal launching pau. This is tiue foi both maiitime opeiations anu the use of

In West Afiica, Bezbollah has long maintaineu an opeiational piesence anu has hau
a significant iole in the bloou uiamonu tiaue anu many othei illicit activities. In
auuition, many in the Lebanese Biaspoia community in West Afiica, numbeiing
seveial hunuieu thousanu, pay a poition of theii eainings to suppoit Bezbollah in
Lebanon, with the knowleuge anu acquiescence of the host goveinment.

The impoitance of this ievenue stieam was ievealeu when a chaitei flight bounu foi
Beiiut fiom Cotonou, Benin, ciasheu on takeoff on Bec. 2S, 2uuS. 0n boaiu was a
Bezbollah "foieign ielations" official caiiying $2 million in contiibutions iaiseu in
the iegion. The money was saiu to iepiesent "the iegulai contiibutions the paity
|Bezbollah] ieceives fiom wealthy Lebanese nationals in uuinea, Sieiia Leone,
Libeiia, Benin anu othei Afiican states."

uiven the piominence of the Lebanese Biaspoia community anu its membeis'
contiol of most of the existing pipeline to impoit anu expoit illegal commouities, it
is inevitable that those oiganizations anu the uiug tiafficking gioups will encountei
each othei anu mutually benefit fiom each othei because each has something the
othei wants anu neeus. Lebanese netwoiks contiol the uecaues-olu contiabanu
netwoiks anu ioutes to Euiope, while the uiug tiaffickeis offei a new anu luciative
piouuct foi the existing pipeline. violent clashes may take place, but the histoiy of
both gioups inuicates they will coopeiate wheie useful.

uiven Bezbollah's long-establisheu piesence on the giounu in the iegion anu the
closeness of its opeiatives to that community, it is also ieasonable to assume that
Bezbollah anu the uiug tiaffickeis, opeiating in the same peimissive enviionment,
will cioss paths. It is piecisely this type of enviionment that allows foi the otheiwise
unthinkable alliances to emeige.

Nost aie shoit-liveu, centeiing on specific oppoitunities anu opeiations that can
benefit both gioups, but otheis aie longei lasting anu moie uangeious. The auaptive
natuie of the actois anu the netwoiks make any numbei of iecombinant foims anu
outcomes possible. This at once makes theii uetection, ieal-time monitoiing anu
effective uisiuption oi inteiuiction by the 0.S. anu othei goveinment anu

"Nakleu: Tengo suficientes piuebas sobie coiiupcion y naicotiáfico paia que inteivengan a
venezuela," NTN24 Tv (Colombia), Apiil 11, 2u11.
See: Euwaiu Baiiis, "Bezbollah Extoiting Funus Fiom West Afiica's Biamonu Neichants,"
Associateu Piess, 29 Iune 2uu4.
Bamiu uhiiyah, "Bezbullah 0fficials Caiiying Bonations Repoiteuly Killeu in Lebanese Plane
Ciash," al-Siyasah (Kuwait), Bec. 29, 2uuS. Foi a bioauei look at the iole of the Lebanese uiaspoia in
West Afiican illicit tiaue activities, see: Lansana ubeiie, !"#$"%&$'(")($*%$+*(##"$,(-%(.$/*"0-%&12$
3-##456*-%$"%&$67($,(8"%(1($3-%%()6*-%2$The Biamonu anu Buman Secuiity Pioject, 0ccasional Papei
6, Ianuaiy 2uuS.
inteinational intelligence anu enfoicement system, as piesently configuieu, neaily

Biug tiafficking in West Afiica also uiiectly stiengthens those who seek not only to
haim the 0niteu States but also to stiangle the stiuggling libeial uemociacies in
Latin Ameiica. These incluue Bugo Chávez in venezuela, his allies in Iian, the FARC
anu Bezbollah. As noteu above, the ciicumstances in West Afiica aie iueal foi
allowing many of these non-state ciiminal anu teiioiist oiganizations to gieatly
expanu theii coopeiation. The money iaiseu fiom the cocaine tiaue on the West
Afiica ioute biings all these thieats closei to the 0niteu States.

Bezbollah's piesence in Latin Ameiica is giowing, anu the oiganization iemains the
piemieie teiioiist oiganization in the woilu. It is giowing both in economic capacity
anu in its placing of opeiatives in the iegion thiough the iapiu expansion of Iian's
uiplomatic anu intelligence missions, businesses anu investments

The thieat poseu by Bezbollah in Latin Ameiica to the 0.S. Bomelanu centeis not
only on the oiganization itself anu its uemonstiateu capacity anu willingness to
attack the inteiests of the 0niteu States anu its allies. It centeis also on the
oiganization's ielationship with a continuum of actois fiom states sponsois (Iian
anu Syiia) to hospitable states (venezuela anu its Bolivaiian allies) to allieu teiioi
anu ciiminal entities (the FARC anu its allies in the NCB).

The coie shaieu beliefs of these vaiieu actois is that the 0niteu States is a piimaiy
enemy that neeus to be uestioyeu: that WNB is a legitimate option to achieve that
enu: that the Iianian ievolution offeis mouel foi uefeating the 0niteu States: anu
that the ability to wage sophisticateu asymmetiical waifaie, which so fai has
ieacheu its pinnacle in the 9-11 attacks on the Bomelanu, is cential to theii militaiy

These states have embiaceu the concept of using uesignateu teiioiist oiganizations
as pioxies foi fuitheiing theii iegional goals anu as instiuments of stateciaft. This
has affoiueu state piotection to these gioups anu acceleiateu the ciiminalization of
the states themselves while also spieauing suppoit to fellow iauicals seeking to
subveit iegional uemociacies towaiu similai enus.

This combination of ielationships -- Iian to Bezbollah, Iian to venezuela anu the
Bolivaiian states: venezuela's ties to the FARC anu the giowing eviuence of joint
Bezbollah anu FARC uiug tiansnational anu tianscontinental tiafficking activity
combine to inuicate that Bezbollah's piesence constitutes a significant thieat to the
0.S. Bomelanu. To view Bezbollah as an isolateu actoi gaining a small footholu in
Latin Ameiica, as is often uone in policy ciicles, is to misunueistanu the natuie of
the thieat, the meaning of the iealities on the giounu, anu theii potential
Hezbollah in Latin America – Implications for U.S. Homeland Security

Melani Cammett
Associate Professor
Dept. of Political Science
Brown University

Testimony before the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence
Committee on Homeland Security
U.S. House of Representatives
Thursday, July 7, 2011


Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I want to thank you for asking me to testify

Since the early 1980s and with renewed vigor since 9/11, the U.S. has been concerned about the
goals and actions of Hezbollah, the Shia Muslim party in Lebanon. In the context of the Global
War on Terror, the organization’s activities in Latin America have received increased scrutiny.
In particular, the Tri-Border Area (TBA), or the relatively ungoverned region where Argentina,
Brazil and Paraguay meet, is alleged to be a key node in Hezbollah’s global fundraising network
and may even provide a launching pad for terrorist operations. Hezbollah reportedly engages in
money-laundering, counterfeiting, piracy, and narcotics trafficking in this region, and uses the
area as a base for recruitment.

To contextualize Hezbollah’s purported activities in Latin America and to assess the likelihood
that the organization will use the region as a base for targeting U.S. interests, it is critical to
understand the origins and evolution of the party. My testimony therefore provides background
on the origins of Hezbollah during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) and its evolution in post-
war Lebanon.

The Wartime Origins of Hezbollah
Hezbollah arose out of specific domestic and regional factors, including the historical
disenfranchisement of the Shia population in Lebanon, the Iranian Revolution, and the Israeli
invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

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1 See, inter alia: Lt. Col. Philip K. Abbott. “Terrorist Threat in the Tri-Border Area: Myth or Reality?” In Military
Review (Sept.-Oct. 2004): 51; John L. Lombardi and David J. Sanchez, “Terrorist Financing and the Tri-Border
Area of South America.” In Jeanne K. Giraldo and Harold A. Trinkunas, eds. Terrorist Financing and State
Responses: A Comparative Perspective (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), pp. 231-246; Gregory F.
Treverton, et al. Film Piracy, Organized Crime, and Terrorism. (Santa Monica, CA: Rand, 2009), pp. 75-81.
Shia Mobilization and the Historical Roots of Hezbollah
Hezbollah is a by-product of Lebanese Shia political movements that originated in the 1960s in
response to the longstanding marginalization of the Shia community in domestic politics and
society. Historically, the Shia had the highest poverty rates and lived in the most
underdeveloped rural regions in Lebanon, notably in South Lebanon and the Bekaa. Shia
marginalization was also institutionalized in Lebanon’s confessional political system, which
favored Maronite Christian as well as Sunni Muslim elites. Based on an unwritten agreement of
1943 and modified at the end of the civil war in 1990, the system distributes political posts by
sect. The arrangement reserves the more powerful positions of President and Prime Minister for
a Maronite and Sunni, respectively, while allocating the relatively weak post of Speaker of the
Parliament to a Shia. Since 1990, all government posts are split evenly between Christians and
Muslims, despite the fact that Christians constitute at most about 40 percent of the population
and have lower birth rates and higher emigration rates than Sunnis and, especially, the Shia.
Although a census has not been held since 1932, it is well know that the Shia became the single
largest confessional group in Lebanon in the 1980s and remain so today. As a result of these
political and economic realities, the Shia have not had influence in domestic politics
commensurate to their size.

Until the 1970s, a wealthy elite dominated political representation of the Shia and generally
neglected the interests of the majority of the community. The Imam Musa Al-Sadr, a
charismatic Shia leader dedicated to the advancement of the community, established numerous
institutions to promote the socioeconomic development of the Shia as part of his “Movement of
the Deprived,” which was initiated in 1974. The following year, al-Sadr’s organization
established a military wing, Amal, headed by Nabih Berri.
By the late 1970s and early 1980s,
the Amal Movement began to factionalize. The more militant members broke off in 1981 under
the leadership of the Sayyid Husayn Al-Musawi, who founded the Islamic Amal, which was later
folded into Hezbollah.

The Iranian Revolution and the Creation of Hezbollah
The Iranian Revolution was a second impetus for the rise of Hezbollah. Many future leaders of
Hezbollah and other Shia movements in Lebanon carried out their religious training in the same
Circles of Learning (Hawzat al-‘Ilmiyyah) in Najaf, Iraq and later in Qom, Iran. Shia clerics
from Lebanon, Iran and Iraq studied, met and formed networks there. Their experiences in Iran
likely influenced them to mobilize the Lebanese Shia community and to pursue an Islamic state.
In the early 1980s, during the civil war, various Shia clerics were jockeying for power in
Lebanon and Khomeini encouraged them to start a movement. Iran therefore sent members of its
Revolutionary Guards to help with military training and began to send aid to the Lebanese Shia
community, assisting in the formation of Hezbollah.

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2 Berri remains the head of the Shia Amal Movement, which became a political party in post-war Lebanon, and has
held the post of Speaker of the Parliament continuously since 1992.
The Israeli Invasion as a Catalyst for the Emergence of Hezbollah
The Israeli invasion of Lebanon, first in 1978 and extended in 1982, was another key factor in
motivating the formation of Hezbollah – and this is a point on which both Israeli and Hezbollah
officials agree. From the beginning, Hezbollah presented itself as the leader of the Resistance
against Israel. The Lebanese civil war, which disproportionately affected the population of
South Lebanon, exacerbated the poor living conditions of the Shia. The Israeli invasion, which
was concentrated in the South, provided an environment that increased the appeal of Hezbollah
and especially its military operations. Hezbollah claimed credit for the Israeli withdrawal in
2000, deriving popular support from its role as the vanguard of the Resistance.

The precise origins of Hezbollah are difficult to pinpoint. Various individuals and groups,
including those linked to the bombings of the U.S. Embassy and marine barracks in Lebanon in
1983 and the kidnappings of Westerners during the 1980s, are said to be precursors to Hezbollah,
which did not formally exist at the time. In 1985, Hezbollah officially announced its
establishment with the publication of its Open Letter. The document outlined its philosophy of
“oppression,” called for the established of an Islamic state in Lebanon modeled after Iran’s
Islamic Republic, declared its opposition to the state of Israel, and detailed other aspects of its
ideological orientation.

Throughout the civil war, Hezbollah focused its activities outside of formal state structures. Its
main priority was the military struggle against Israel. In the domestic arena, Hezbollah largely
stayed out of sectarian battles, engaging only in armed clashes with competitors in the South and
southern suburbs of Beirut, notably the Shia Amal Movement and various Leftist groups. During
the war, Hezbollah also ran some social programs, especially health programs, which catered
largely although not exclusively to the families of fighters “martyred” or wounded in fighting
against Israel.

The Evolution of Hezbollah in the Post-War Period (1990-Present)
From 1989 to 1992, Hezbollah initiated its transition from a predominantly militant movement to
greater participation in the formal institutions of the state. Three different wings of the
organization were established or further consolidated in the post-war period, including the
institutions of it military wing as well as those of its political party and social welfare programs.

Hezbollah as a Militant Group
Hezbollah is best known in the West as a militant organization. In the post-war period, it has
retained and honed its military capabilities at the same time that it increased its participation in
mainstream, non-violent politics in Lebanon.

In its capacity as an armed movement, Hezbollah concentrates its violent acts and rhetoric on
Israel. It continues to present itself as the vanguard of the Resistance in Lebanon as well as a
defender of the Palestinians against Israeli occupation. Hezbollah maintains a perpetual state of
war against Israel and engages in periodic cross-border skirmishes with Israeli forces, most
famously in recent years with the capture of two Israeli soldiers and killing of several others on
July 12, 2006, which sparked the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese conflict.

Hezbollah has largely avoided the use of violence within Lebanon. An important exception
occurred in May 2008, when street clashes erupted between Hezbollah and its allies, on the one
hand, and groups associated with the predominantly Sunni and pro-West Future Movement and
its allies, on the other hand. The decision of Hezbollah to turn its weapons “inward” hurt the
credibility of the organization among many Lebanese.

Hezbollah is especially keen to differentiate itself from Sunni terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda.
Major differences, both doctrinal and strategic, separate the two groups. Al-Qaeda and other
Sunni extremist organizations view Shia Muslims as traitors to Islam. Furthermore, while
Hezbollah has become a mainstream political party in the domestic arena, al-Qaeda is a global
organization primarily aimed at perpetrating terrorist acts rather than developing ties with local
populations. Notwithstanding Hezbollah’s militant wing, it would therefore be a mistake to put
it in the same category as al-Qaeda and related groups.

Hezbollah as a Political Party
With the end of the civil war, the Hezbollah leadership made the strategic decision to participate
in the formal political system. In the early 1990s, the organization denounced its stated goal of
pursuing the establishment of an Islamic state in Lebanon and opted to field candidates in all
post-war elections, including the parliamentary elections of 1992, 1996, 2000, 2005 and 2009 as
well as municipal elections held in 1998, 2004 and 2010. Since 1992, Hezbollah has held seats
in parliament and in 2000 its national representation exceeded that of the Amal Movement for
the first time. In 2005, Hezbollah finally agreed to accept cabinet-level positions, despite the fact
that its prior electoral successes had qualified it to hold ministerial posts in the past. By
participating in the executive branch of government, the party could no longer depict itself as an
opposition faction within the parliament.

Participation in formal political institutions provides incentives for parties to woo supporters
from beyond their own religious communities and hard core supporters. The Lebanese electoral
system reserves seats for representatives from different sectarian communities at the district
level, but voters from all religious backgrounds vote for all candidates, irrespective of religious
affiliation. This arrangement also encourages parties to forge cross-sectarian alliances in order to
sweep the ballot. Thus, Hezbollah – and other parties – have formed alliances, often but not
always of convenience. A 2006 accord with Michel Aoun, head of the Christian Free Patriotic
Movement (FPM), established an alliance between Hezbollah and the FPM that endures to this
day. Since 2000, Hezbollah has also run joint lists with the Amal Movement, thereby
undercutting real competition between the two parties in national elections.

Hezbollah has had a strong showing in elections both at the local and national levels, although its
coalition – the March 8
Alliance – did not win the majority of seats in the 2009 parliamentary
elections. A variety of factors likely contribute to its success. First, Hezbollah derived
substantial credibility from its role in compelling the Israeli withdrawal in 2000, although as time
passes this source of support is declining. Second, the party has proved exceptionally adept at
grassroots outreach, enabling it to forge strong linkages between its cadres and citizens. Its
extensive and well-managed networks of social programs partially explain its popular appeal
Hezbollah’s social welfare activities both enable the party to establish direct ties with the
population in the areas where they operate and to bolster its reputation for good governance and
relative lack of corruption. Even Hezbollah’s harshest critics concede that the organization runs
well-managed and high quality programs in the spheres of health, education, and other social

In the post-war period, and especially since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-
Hariri, Hezbollah has expanded its repertoire of political mobilization strategies to include
classic non-violent forms of participation such as demonstrations and sit-ins. In December 2006,
Hezbollah and its allies in the March 8
coalition withdrew their representatives from the
national government and initiated a sit-in by their supporters, who camped out for seventeen-
months in downtown Beirut. Officially, the March 8
leadership launched these protested to call
for more posts in the government – specifically, one-third of cabinet positions, which would give
the coalition veto power. Hezbollah’s opposition to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL),
which was established to investigate the assassination of Hariri, was a key factor behind the
opposition’s withdrawal from the government. The Doha Agreement, brokered by the Qatari
government, ended the standoff after violent clashes erupted in May 2008 between the March
and March 8

The STL continues to destabilize Lebanese politics, with Hezbollah declaring its firm opposition
to the proceedings and attempting to undermine the investigation’s credibility, particularly after
prosecutors announced the indictments of four Hezbollah members. The issue of the STL was an
important motivation for the decision by Hezbollah and its allies to force the breakdown of the
government of Saad al-Hariri, the son of Rafic Hariri, in January 2011. The decision of the
Druze political leader, Walid Jumblatt, to defect from the March 14
coalition enabled
Hezbollah and its allies to orchestrate the breakdown of the Hariri government, thereby enabling
the March 8
coalition to become the majority in parliament. In January 2011, Najib al-Miqati
was nominated as the new Prime Minister and, after a delay of almost six months, he constituted
a government.

Political developments since 2005 demonstrate that Hezbollah remains heavily invested in
formal state institutions and resorts to a wide range of political to pursue its interests in domestic
politics. The adoption of extra-electoral forms of political participation such as mass
demonstrations and sit-ins is by no means unique to Hezbollah. Observers of Lebanese politics,
however, are increasingly concerned about Hezbollah’s stance on the STL and its implications
for stability in the country. To block cooperation with the STL, Hezbollah has tried to question
its legality, overturned sitting governments, and issue veiled threats to block the proceedings of
the court at all costs.

Hezbollah as Social Welfare Provider
The Social Unit of Hezbollah is charged with providing social services and technical help to
members, supporters, families of “martyrs” and others. The social wing of the organization
incorporates multiple welfare programs. These include its construction wing (Jihad al-Bina’)
which helps people construct and rehabilitate homes, supplies water and electricity to parts of
Lebanon, and runs schools, shops, hospitals, clinics, mosques, cultural and social centers, and
agricultural cooperatives. The Islamic Health Organizations runs a network of hospitals, clinics
and dispensaries throughout the South, Bekaa and southern suburbs of Beirut. Hezbollah also
runs several networks of schools, a microcredit agency, and a program to assist the poor and
orphans, the Imam Khomeini Support Committee (Lajnat Imdad al-Khomeini), which is modeled
after an institution in Iran.

Hezbollah’s social programs largely benefit Shia Muslims, mainly because it locates its social
welfare activities in predominantly Shia neighborhoods and villages. Furthermore, its most
generous programs are reserved for its core members and particularly the families of militia
fighters and those who have been wounded in clashes with Israel. Nonetheless, basic Hezbollah
services are accessible to all who seek them, Shia and non-Shia alike.

The provision of social welfare is not unique to Hezbollah. All major sectarian political parties
in Lebanon provide welfare, either directly through their own facilities or by brokering access to
services supplied by the government or private providers. What appears to distinguish Hezbollah
from many other parties who offer social services is the professionalism and quality of its
welfare programs.

Hezbollah’s Funding Sources
Hezbollah’s militant and non-militant operations undoubtedly require a large budget. Obtaining
reliable information on the organization’s finances and funding sources is notoriously difficult, if
not impossible.

Hezbollah officials emphasize the importance of charitable donations and taxes, including the
obligatory Shia religious taxes of zakat and khums, which allegedly account for one-half of the
operating budget of the organization’s welfare programs.
They also point to donations from
wealthy businesspeople and investments in private ventures. Hezbollah representatives are more
reticent about the role of Iranian funds. Estimates of Iran’s contributions range from $25-50
to $100-200 million,
although some claim that Iranian financial support has steadily
Reduced support from Iran suggests a possible motive for seeking alternative,
sometimes illicit sources of financing such as the activities that Hezbollah allegedly carries out in
the TBA. A 2004 estimate alleged that Hezbollah’s operations in the TBA generate about $10
million annually for the organization.
The Anti-Defamation League claims that Hezbollah’s
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Mona Harb. Le Hezbollah à Beirut (1985-2005): De la Banlieue à la Ville (Paris: IFPO-Karthala, 2010), p. 94.
Anthony Cordesman, “Iran’s Support of the Hezbollah in Lebanon.” (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and
International Studies, July 15, 2006), p. 3.
Matthew Levitt. “Hezbollah Finances: Funding the Party of God.” In Jeanne K. Giraldo and Harold A. Trinkunas,
eds. Terrorist Financing and State Responses: A Comparative Perspective (Stanford: Stanford University Press,
2007), pp. 131-151.
See Abbott, op. cit. and Ahmed Nizar Hamzeh. In the Path of Hizbullah (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press,
2004), p. 63.
Julio A. Cirnio, Silvana L. Elizondo, & Geoffrey Wawro. “Latin American Security Challenges: A Collaborative
Inquiry from North and South.” In Paul D. Taylor, ed., Latin America’s Lawless Areas and Failed States: An
Analysis of the New Threats (Newport, RI: Naval War College Press, 2004), p. 24.
total operating budget ranges from $200-500 million.
Given the speculative nature of these
estimates and their obscure sources, these figures are impossible to verify.

Is Hezbollah Likely to Target the U.S.?
Hezbollah is a militant organization because it employs violence, but its acts of violence are
almost exclusively directed at Israel in what the organization and many Lebanese view as a
protracted war. At present, however, there is no indication that Hezbollah aims to target the U.S.
militarily. Although Hezbollah condemns the U.S. for its alliance with Israel and Middle East
policy, it has not targeted the U.S. or U.S. interests with violence since the 1980s.

The reaction of Hezbollah to strong U.S. support for Israel during the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese
conflict provides insight into Hezbollah’s stance vis-à-vis the U.S. in the current period. During
the war, the U.S. unequivocally backed Israel’s right to defend itself from Hezbollah attacks and
even provided military support to Israel while the conflict played out. The U.S. also rejected
calls for a ceasefire in the first part of the war, claiming that a ceasefire agreement should not be
brokered until certain conditions were met. In addition, the U.S. unilaterally opposed a UN
Security Council proposal for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon while the U.S.
Congress passed resolutions that condemned Hezbollah and its state sponsors for provoking the
war and underscored Israel’s right to self-defense.

During the 2006 war, many Lebanese citizens – including those who do not support Hezbollah –
interpreted these official U.S. statements as favoritism of Israel at the expense of Lebanese lives
and infrastructure. Hezbollah condemned the U.S. position during the war and Hassan
Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, stepped up the anti-American rhetoric in his speeches. In
addition, during and after the war, Hezbollah and its supporters spray painted “Made in the
U.S.A.” on the debris of Israeli bombs as a symbolic means of highlighting what they viewed as
U.S. complicity in Israeli attacks on Lebanon. Despite this strong anti-American stance and
propaganda, however, Hezbollah did not promote the targeting of U.S. interests whether within
the region or elsewhere. Since 2006, the organization has remained strongly critical of American
policy towards the Middle East but has not indicated its desire to target U.S. interests with
military operations.

Hezbollah’s disinterest in targeting the U.S. militarily stems from its political evolution in the
post-war period as well as tactical calculations. As detailed above, Hezbollah is increasingly
vested in Lebanese politics and has become a major party in the domestic political scene. This
strategic orientation requires compromise and pragmatism, limiting the organization’s propensity
to deploy violence to pursue its goals. Furthermore, Hezbollah is now a far more complex
organization than it was in the 1980s. It encompasses multiple interests, both within its separate
organizational bodies and within its domestic constituencies. It would be a mistake to view its
military, political and social wings as one seamless operation geared exclusively towards violent
struggle. Indeed, credible sources claim that Hezbollah has experienced internal debates about
the relative weights of its political and social programs versus its militant activities, particularly
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Anti-Defamation League. “Hezbollah’s International Reach” (December 7, 2004). Available at
9 U.S. Senate Resolution 534 (July 18, 2006) and U.S House of Representatives Resolution 921 (July 20, 2006).
since the 2006 war with Israel. Hezbollah is a highly disciplined organization that does not
expose internal dissension, but such factional differences are entirely plausible and, indeed, are
common in any political organization, whether violent or non-violent.

Tactically, a full-scale military conflict with the U.S. would inevitably lead to big losses and
would shift Hezbollah’s priorities beyond its main military focus, notably its struggle against
Israel. Furthermore, there is no evidence that Hezbollah aims to launch global terrorist
operations, as carried out by Sunni extremist groups such as al-Qaeda. To the contrary, the
organization has explicitly and repeatedly condemned the indiscriminate, large-scale acts of
violence perpetrated by Sunni extremists.

With respect the TBA, the proposition that Hezbollah intends to launch terrorist acts against the
U.S. from the region are not based on conclusive evidence. Latin America is home to many
Lebanese Shia migrants, but they have diverse religious and political orientations. Sympathy for
Hezbollah as the leader of Resistance as well as the paying of religious taxes to Shia clerics, even
those linked to Hezbollah, are not commensurate to support for or participation in terrorist acts.
As detailed above, Hezbollah is a multi-faceted organization that garners popular support for
diverse reasons. Many Lebanese – including opponents of Hezbollah and non-Shia Lebanese –
view the organization’s ongoing conflict with Israel as justified in the context of a protracted

Analysts have made two main overarching claims about the security implications of Hezbollah’s
activities in Latin America and, specifically, in the TBA: First, the region provides a space where
Hezbollah (and other groups) conduct illicit activities that are central to their fundraising
operations. Second, the region offers a geographic platform in the Americas from which
Hezbollah and other groups can launch terrorist operations against the U.S., among other
Western targets.

Regarding the first claim, I do not have sufficient independent information to confirm or deny
the nature or extent of Hezbollah’s activities in the TBA. The information cited in published
sources on Hezbollah’s budget structure, including the funds it allegedly derives from illicit
activities in the TBA, is largely speculative.

On the second claim, the notion that Hezbollah intends to launch terrorist operations against U.S.
interests, particularly in the Western Hemisphere, seems implausible at this juncture. Since the
1980s, Hezbollah has evolved into a mainstream actor in Lebanese politics and has opted to
participate in the formal institutions of the state. As a result, the party has become more
pragmatic and far more willing to make compromises than in the past. Hezbollah remains
committed to its struggle against Israel, but confrontation with the U.S. is a much riskier venture
and is well beyond the scope of its domestic and regional priorities.