– Tehran Reportedly Shipping Supplies to Hezbollah Base in Nicaragua, Terrorist Training Camp also Serves as Hub for Weapons Smugglers and Money Launderers
– Islamo-Marxist Nexus in Latin America: Hezbollah Delegation Visits Cuba and Venezuela in July, Attends Sao Paulo Forum Summit in Caracas
This week, Nicaragua’s past/present Marxist dictator, President Daniel Ortega, announced that his country will no longer send troops to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) at Fort Benning, Georgia. Until 2000, the United StatesArmySchool of the Americas (SoA), as it was then called, was the main training school for US and Latin American military and police personnel in a variety of small unit tactics and leadership courses.
“The SOA is a symbol of death, a symbol of terror. We have been gradually reducing our numbers of troops at the SOA, sending only five last year and none this year. We have now entered a new phase and we will not continue to send troops to the SOA,” Ortega said in a Tuesday meeting with delegations from School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) and the pro-Sandinista Nicanet group.
Leftist critics have long denounced the SoA as “School of Assassins,” pointing out that during the Cold War, when communist insurgencies raged throughout the hemisphere, some of South and Central America’s most reactionary dictators and generals emerged from this institution. According to SOAW, “The worst atrocities of this continent, from Mexico to Chile, have been committed by graduates of this school.”
Father Roy Bourgeois, a Catholic priest of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, spoke on behalf of the SOAW: “The School of the Americas is well known in Latin America as a school for murderers, torturers and perpetrators of coups d’état. It is the symbol of United States foreign policy whose role is always the same: to protect US economic interests and control the natural resources of Latin American countries.”
According to SOAW, recent examples of the performance of SoA graduates include the 2009 coup in Honduras, which ousted President Manuel Zelaya, a slavish lackey of Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez, the attempted coup in Venezuela in 2002, which briefly deposed Chavez, and similar incidents in Ecuador and Uruguay. Thus far, the communist/center-left regimes in Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Ecuador have stated their intent to disengage from WHINSEC.
Frankly, we are surprised that the second Sandinista regime in Managua did not pull out of WHINSEC sooner, that is, after Ortega returned to the presidency in 2007 following a 16 year stint in the political wilderness. However, Ortega’s announcement is timely in that this week the Kremlin media reported that Nicaraguan troops will now receive training in Russia, the Sandinista leader’s long-time benefactor, and in view of Nicaragua’s membership in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA). Last year, ALBA established a School of the Armed Forces in Bolivia, complete with 5,000-square meter facility, which will indoctrinate soldiers from member states in neo-Marxism and pan-Latin Americanism.
Meanwhile, according to Arutz Sheva, 30 members of the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah has set up a training camp in northern Nicaragua, near the Honduran border, and is receiving supplies from Iran, which sponsors Hezbollah. The purpose of this camp is to prepare Hezbollah cadres to attack US and Israeli interests should Israel decide to wipe out elements of Iran’s suspected nuclear bomb program. The Hezbollah base reportedly also serves as a hub for weapons smugglers and money laundering by drug cartels. For unexplained reasons, whether in sympathy or opposition, local residents have blocked off the area.
Significantly, the Israeli media draws a link between the purported Hezbollah base in Nicaragua with the arrest in late August of 18 people posing as journalists in the employ of Mexico’s Televisa. The arrests took place as the alleged Mexican nationals attempted to enter Nicaragua from Honduras. Nicaraguan authorities searched the journalists’ six news vans, all of which sported the Televisa logo, and found hidden bags of cash totalling US$9.2 million. The suspects were arraigned in a Managua courtroom after being accused of organized crime and money laundering, but it is not still not clear who the suspects are, and under whose auspices they were funded.
Media reports speculated that the supposed Televisa journalists were transporting drug money from the Mexican cartels to narcotics suppliers in South America. However, asserts Arutz Sheva, Hezbollah is also financing its terrorist activities by profits earned from the illicit drug trade. Indeed, in 2011 the terrorist organization, which is also a political party with representation in the Lebanese parliament, was caught using US banks to launder money earned from trafficking drugs in South America and Africa.
The Nicaraguan Army is not commenting on the Israeli allegations, which originated with Israel Radio via the Times of Israel. “I don’t know those reports, or in what media that is being reported in,” army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Orlando Palacios told The Nicaragua Dispatch in a phone interview. “I would have to see [the reports] to give an opinion on them, but for the moment I don’t have any opinion.”
Asked if the army could categorically deny the existence of Hezbollah training camps in Nicaragua without reading the articles, Palacios repeated that the army has no comment. “I repeat, I don’t know the articles and I can’t opine on something I haven’t read. Neither the army nor I have any opinion about this at this time,” Palacios insisted.
Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, a former Catholic priest and Ortega’s foreign minister during the 1980s, lashed out at the “Zionists” for throwing such an accusation against Nicaragua. “You smear as much as you can on the wall and some will stick,” d’Escoto told The Nicaragua Dispatch in a phone interview. He ranted: “It’s like Al Capone accusing someone of being a thief; that’s the amount credibility that the Zionists have. The only ones who train terrorists in this world— that I know of—is the United States in the first place, and in second place the Zionists.” D’Escoto, who still holds the rank of honorary foreign minister, more recently served as President of the United Nations General Assembly from 2008 to 2009.
Iran is closely allied with the leftist regimes in Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba, all of which are vehemently opposed to the USA’s sole superpower status in the world. Furthermore, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s genocidal hatred of Israel is known worldwide. Earlier this year, “Iwannajihad” put in an appearance in Managua, Caracas, and Havana, while in past years Ortega and Chavez have made pilgrimages to the fountainhead of Islamic fundamentalism, Tehran. For its part, Managua has been a “Red Mecca” for revolutionaries and terrorists since 1979, when the Sandinistas first seized power.
This is not the first time that Hezbollah has been accused of setting up shop in the Americas. In 2009, YNet News reported that the terrorist organization established a terrorist base in Venezuela, with the knowledge and approval of President Chavez. The news source related:
The US Treasury Department indicted two Venezuelan citizens last year for supporting Hezbollah, and froze their assets in the United States. One of them, a diplomat of Lebanese Shiite ancestry, used his position to transfer funds to Hezbollah and to help members of the organization move between Venezuela and Iran for training. The other is a travel agent from the capital city, Caracas, who aided Hezbollah members in planning attacks.
Western counter-terrorism experts warn that Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have established special units to kidnap Jewish businessmen from Latin America and to bring them to Lebanon.
During his visit to South America that year, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman apprised his hosts of Hezbollah’s activities in their countries.
In 2011, FrontPage Magazine reported that Hezbollah, not content with a presence in Venezuela, had moved closer to the USA by establishing a training base in Cuba:
The Italian daily Corriere della Sera is reporting that Hezbollah is setting up a base of operations in Cuba in order to extend its ability to reach Israeli targets in Latin America…According to the Tel Aviv daily Yedioth Ahronoth, three members of Hezbollah have already arrived in Cuba to set up the cell, which will allegedly “include 23 operatives, hand-picked by Talal Hamia, a senior member tasked with heading the covert operation.
“The clandestine terror operation,” says Humberto Fontova, “is reportedly called the Caribbean Case.” In the same article, Fontova notes that in 2011 Fidel Castro’s roaming ambassador, Aleida Guevara (Che’s daughter), had materialized in Lebanon, where she posed in a photograph next to Hezbollah missiles aimed at Israel.
Traces of Hezbollah have emerged closer still to the USA, specifically along the US-Mexican border. In April 2010, the arrest of a Hezbollah member tasked with setting up a cell in Tijuana was confirmed in a memo from the Tucson Police Department. “Many experts believe Hezbollah and drug cartels have worked together for decades,” wrote US Representative Sue Myric (R-NC) to the Department of Homeland Security. “Hezbollah operates almost like a Mafia family in Northern Mexico, often demanding protection money and ‘taxes’ from local inhabitants.” Myric revealed that lately gang tattoos of many prisoners in Arizona jails are written in Farsi, Iran’s official language.
“Several reports, citing U.S. law enforcement and intelligence sources, document that Hezbollah operatives have provided weapons and explosives training to drug trafficking organizations that operate along the U.S. border with Mexico,” testified Roger Noriega, former US ambassador to the Organization of American States, to the House of Representative’s Subcommittee on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence. “If our government and responsible partners in Latin America fail to act,” continued Noriega’s July 7, 2011 testimony, “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.”
The above reports about Hezbollah training facilities are credible, especially in light of the Hezbollah delegation that visited Havana and Caracas in July. The visit to Cuba, in particular, came in response to an official invitation by the head of International Relations Division of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, José Ramon Balaguer. The delegation–which included Nawwar Sahili, Member of Parliament for the Loyalty to the Resistance Party, and Nawaf Musawi, head of Hezbollah’s International Relations Department–showed up at the Santa Clara tomb of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, where they paid their respects to the Argentinean Marxist revolutionary icon by laying a wreath.
Musawi (pictured above) was quoted by the Hezbollah press office as having praised the “Cuban experience in resisting American hegemony,” which he held aloft as “a model for all countries and peoples in how to challenge policies of hegemony, arrogance and plunder.” The Hezbollah official also praised Cuba’s historical stances in defending the Arabs’ rights in their conflict with the “Zionist enemy” and the country’s support for the “Palestinian cause.”
Significantly, while visiting Venezuela on July 3 and 4, Musawi participated in the Sao Paolo Forum, an annual summit of regional ruling and non-ruling leftist parties then meeting in Caracas. There Musawi conferred with several other participants, such as Venezuelan Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs David Velasquez.