July 2, 2012. Asuncion, Paraguay. More than five years ago, it was revealed that the Islamic revolutionary underworld had expanded its reach and was establishing bases in South America. Two years ago, German media outlets reported that Iran and Venezuela agreed to place missiles in Venezuela capable of striking the US. Now, officials believe Iran just delivered to Venezuela at least six unmanned drones, possibly Iran’s Karrar long-range bombing drone, also capable of striking the US.
An Iranian unmanned drone long-range bomber. Image courtesy of Wired.com.
The ties between numerous South American countries, some friends of the US, with numerous Middle Eastern countries and organizations hostile to America, have been slowly developing for decades. While reports are absent in the US media, international accounts show the South American Islamic-Socialist alliance growing and expanding both in popular support, as well as military arms.
Hezbollah in South America
In May 2007, news exploded across America that Hezbollah had established a secret base in the remote region of South America going by names such as the ‘Tri-Border’ or the ‘Triple Frontier’. It is the area in the southeastern portion of the continent where Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina all border each other.
From an account by Telemundo and MSNBC.com, the area contains a minority population of about 25,000 Arab-Muslim residents. The largest ethnic group is from Lebanon where the population’s ancestors, grandparents and parents immigrated to the area in two waves, both times to avoid wars. The first was during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and the second during the 1985 Lebanese civil war.
The report describes ‘an extensive smuggling network run by Hezbollah…The operation funnels large sums of money to militia leaders in the Middle East and finances training camps, propaganda operations and bomb attacks in South America’. Investigators cited Bush administration fears at the possibility that terrorists could sneak across the US border with Mexico. They said, ‘US officials fear that poorly patrolled borders and rampant corruption in the Tri-border region could make it easy for Hezbollah terrorists to infiltrate the southern US border’.
During the two networks’ investigation, Telemundo interviewed a Paraguayan Hezbollah militiaman in Paraguay’s second-largest city Ciudad del Este. Mustafa Khalil Meri was a young Arab Muslim, clad in a western tee shirt, remarking, “If he attacks Iran, in two minutes Bush is dead. We are Muslims. I am Hezbollah. We are Muslims and we will defend our countries at any time they are attacked.”
Iranian Missile Base in Venezuela
On May 21, 2011, reports that Iran was building a missile base in Venezuela to house medium-range missiles capable of hitting the US spread across the nation. Attempting to quell fears, the Obama administration, together with networks like CNN, insisted the story was, “not credible”. “We have no evidence to support this claim and therefore no reason to believe the assertions made in the article are credible,” the State Dept. said at the time.
Contrary to CNN and the US State Dept., six days later, the Latin edition of Fox News (yes, there’s a Latin edition), rebroadcast a confirmation by Germany’s daily Die Welt news outlet. It cited diplomats who revealed details of the 2010 Iran-Venezuela agreement that was signed during Hugo Chavez’s trip to Iran that year. The story quoted the diplomatic sources saying, ‘The leaders of Iran and Venezuela hailed what they called their strong strategic relationship, saying they are united in efforts to establish a new world order that will eliminate Western dominance over global affairs.”
Investigators also confirmed that the future missile base would be constructed on the Paraguana Peninsula, located 120 kilometers from the Venezuelan-Colombian border. A group of Khatam Al-Anbia engineers, the construction division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, covertly travelled to the area to begin operations. Iranian military engineers are reported to be working with their Venezuelan counterparts to design and build, ‘command stations, control bases, residential buildings, security towers, bunkers and dugouts, warheads, rocket fuel and other cloaking constructs’.
From separate sources inside Iran, the German news outlet also reports that Iranian Revolutionary Guard units have, ‘established many entities and facilities in Venezuela as front companies involved in covert operations, such as exploration of uranium. Venezuela is said to have significant reserves.’
Hezbollah Expands in South America
In August 2011, the American Israeli Political Action Committee published their Near East Report. While not an unbiased source on this particular topic, AIPAC has excellent intelligence sources and felt the need to raise an alert. Hezbollah has, it says, ‘grown in scope and sophistication’. The group also points to the two deadliest terrorist attacks to ever occur in Argentina. In 1992, the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing 29 and injuring 242. Two year later in 1994, the Buenos Aires AMIA Jewish Community Center was bombed killing 85 and injuring hundreds. Both attacks are attributed to Hezbollah in South America.
Over the years, South American Hezbollah units have created alliances and working relationships with a number of government and revolutionary leaders. AIPAC says, ‘The group has tapped into the anti-US sentiments of many South American governments, first and foremost Hugo Chavez’s regime in Venezuela.’ The report also cites Hezbollah’s cooperation with the Colombian revolutionary army (FARC), Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia.
Congress addressed the situation last year during meetings of the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and the House Committee on Homeland Security. Commenting on the situation, Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY) said, “You don’t infiltrate an area without intent. And that intent clearly is…not benevolent, we know that.”
Iranian Missiles and Bolivian Uranium
Recently, conservative commentator Dick Morris ran an episode on his Dick Morris TV broadcast that read excerpts from the 2007 book, ‘Screwed’. Little did anyone report at the time, the book contained information detailing not just previously confirmed missile bases, but an actual Iranian missile build-up in Venezuela.
Morris reports, “Hugo Chavez is building an alliance with Iran to bring terrorist bases and a missile capability right to South America.” His video broadcast goes on, “There is proof, according to the former Israeli Foreign Minister, that uranium from Bolivia, which is one of the leading suppliers of uranium and which is basically controlled by Chavez, is providing uranium to Iran to help them develop nuclear weapons.”
Dick Morris goes on to quote the book ‘Screwed’, which in turn quotes the Wall Street Journal, “That Venezuela has purchased ten Iranian drones for a total of 30 million dollars. And the Wall Street Journal reports that medium-range Shahab 3 missiles, Iranian intermediate nuclear missiles, have been shipped from Iran to Venezuela.”
Iranian military drones over Venezuela
Last week, the technology website Wired.com ran an article detailing Venezuela’s unmanned drone program. It was an educational glimpse showing just how far and how fast Iran and Venezuela have come in just the couple years since the above investigative reports initially broke the news.
The first fact mentioned is that the manager of Venezuela’s unmanned drone program just happens to be a former Iranian ballistic missile engineer who previously worked for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The report quotes the Miami Herald’s Spanish-language sister publication El Nuevo Herald. The publication cites US government officials who believe that a shipment of 70 containers, each weighing more than 24,000 pounds, contained at least six Iranian unmanned drones.
Witnesses describe the cargo being camouflaged as automotive parts from a Chilean company to Venirauto (Venezuelan-Iranian Automotive). The materials were reportedly headed to a Venezuelan air base, ‘and the location for the M2 drone project, named after the Mohajer, a light surveillance drone manufactured by Iran’. The senior engineer at the Venezuelan site, Ramin Keshavarz, also happens to be a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Investigators ended their report with another surprise find – money, large amounts of money. According to the account, ‘the stealthy cargo, the Iranian missile engineer, and more than a million pounds of unaccounted weight, wasn’t all. Excessively high amounts of money are paid for the drone program, much higher than the total cost of the bots.”
Chavez acknowledges program
Three weeks ago, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez publicly acknowledged his country’s secret unmanned drone program. “Of course we’re doing it, and we have the right to. We are a free and independent country,” Chavez confirmed. He then talked about other secret programs built, “with the help of different countries including China, Russia, Iran and other allied countries.”
Hugo Chavez’s most stinging remark was when he spoke about Venezuela’s unmanned drone program. “Pretty soon, someone is probably going to say there’s an atomic bomb on the tip of it” he joked when referring to western speculation over his drones.
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