The House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management has released a new congressional report that ties Middle East terror organizations to Mexican drug cartels.
The report, which was released on Thursday, is titled “A Line in the Sand: Countering Crime, Violence and Terror at the Southwest Border.” The report was prepared by Texas Republican Representative Michael McCaul, the subcommittee's chairman.
"While there have been many substantial improvements to border security since the issuance of the report, the threats from transnational criminal organizations and spillover violence remain. Additionally, the new element of Iran and Hezbollah's influence in Latin America has become very troubling. It is for these reasons that the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management has decided to revisit this issue and update A Line in the Sand with a contemporary understanding of these threats and solutions thereto."
According to the report, the “Southwest border has now become the greatest threat of terrorist infiltration into the United States” and also claims that there is a "growing influence" in Latin America from Iranian and Hezbollah terrorist forces.
“The presence of Hezbollah in Latin America is partially explained by the large Lebanese diaspora in South America,” the report reads. “In general, Hezbollah enjoys support by many in the Lebanese world community in part because of the numerous social programs it provides in Lebanon that include schools, hospitals, utilities and welfare.”
“United in their dedication to the destruction of Israel, Iran has helped Hezbollah grow from a small group of untrained guerrillas into what is arguably the most highly trained, organized and equipped terrorist organization in the world,” the report reads. “In return, Hezbollah has served as an ideal proxy for Iranian military force – particularly against Israel – which affords Iran plausible deniability diplomatically. Hence wherever Hezbollah is entrenched, Iran will be as well and vice-versa.”
The report goes on to make the case that Iran's increased presence in Latin America is due to it's relationship to Venezuela.
The relationship of Hezbollah to the Mexican drug cartels has also been documented as early as 2005 the report claims. This is incredibly interesting, seeing that earlier this year Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, known as the Sinaloa Cartel’s “logistics coordinator,” has brought allegations that the gunwalking operation Fast and Furious had nothing to do with tracking guns and everything to do with supplying them to Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel to eliminate rivals.
Speaking of the previous report released, the new report says, "“The report elaborated on the increasing cooperation between the drug cartels and prison and street gangs in the United States to facilitate the trafficking and sale of illicit drugs along with the enforcement of remunerations,"
The recent report also cites a statement by Michael Braun, former Drug Enforcement Administration executive:
“Operatives from FTOs (foreign terrorist organizations) and DTOs (drug trafficking organizations) are frequenting the same shady bars, the same seedy hotels and the same sweaty brothels in a growing number of areas around the world,” Braun said in a statement quoted in the report. “And what else are they doing? Based upon over 37 years in the law enforcement and security sectors, you can mark my word that they are most assuredly talking business and sharing lessons learned.”
In October 2011, Iran apparently tried to exploit its ties to the drug cartels to conduct its eventually foiled assassination attempt on the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
“According to a federal arrest complaint filed in New York City, the [Iranian] Qods Force attempted to hire a drug cartel (identified by other sources as the Los Zetas) to assassinate Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir for a fee of $1.5 million,” the report reads. “The terror attack was to take place at a popular restaurant in Washington, D.C. without regard to collateral deaths or damage.”
“The Qods Force made this solicitation because it knows drug traffickers are willing to undertake such criminal activity in exchange for money,” the report continues. “Moreover, if this terror attack had been successful, the Qods Force intended to use the Los Zetas for other attacks in the future. Had it not been for a [Drug Enforcement Agency] DEA informant posing as the Los Zetas operative, this attack could have very well taken place.”
In a statement released by Chairman McCaul he said, "Middle East terrorist networks that continue to plot against the United States are expanding their ties to Mexican drug trafficking organizations, better positioning themselves for a possible attack on our homeland. This report documents the increased presence of Iran and Hezbollah in Latin America and addresses the growing concern that terrorist organizations will exploit burgeoning relationships with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate the Southwest border undetected.”
“The Federal government needs to better address this threat and secure ‘America’s unlocked back door,'" he stated. "In late 2010, DHS reported that it could respond to illegal activity along only 44 percent of the Southwest border, leaving 7,500 border miles inadequately protected. After this abysmal report card, DHS quickly abandoned this metric and has yet to implement another way to measure its progress in securing the border. The purpose of this hearing is to assess the findings of the Subcommittee’s report and develop potential solutions for the next Administration and Congress to help prevent a breach of our border security and avert the consequences that could result."
A hearing is to take place Friday to discuss the findings of the report.