Jihadists exploit Latin America to finance terrorDecember 17, 2012
Latin America has experienced a possible increase in terror financing activities by radical Islamists throughout 2012. Consider the developments that have been revealed this year:
- In September, published reports indicated that a Hezbollah camp in Nicaragua is training 30 operatives and is laundering money.
- The Venezuela chapter of Hezbollah is using Panama for bulk cash smuggling for follow-on transfer to Beirut.
- Some goods, possibly even missile components, are being exported via Panama directly to Iran.
- The use of the Venezuelan air carrier Conviasa to smuggle contraband through Africa to Europe earned it an “operational ban” from the EU in April. Hezbollah profited from the Conviasa flights. It is unclear whether the ban interferes with Conviasa’s African flights.
- Cuba was listed again by the U.S. in 2012 as a state sponsor of terrorism partly for the continued safe haven Cuba provides to terrorist groups FARC and ETA. Havana is now also letting IHH, the radical Islamist Turkish charity that has been banned by Germany for its financing of Hamas, build a mosque in Cuba.
- A trio of Hezbollah agents in Mexico was exposed during an arrest of one operative who had previously been convicted in the U.S. for credit card fraud that funded terrorism.
- Ecuador was blacklisted in June by FATF, the international financial watchdog, for failing to make progress against money laundering and terrorist financing.
- In its annual report in July, the U.S. State Department said, “Brazil has not criminalized terrorist financing in a manner that is consistent with the FATF Special Recommendation II.”
Given its Western heritage and deep Catholic faith, Latin America can and should be a natural ally in the war against Islamic terror. Its energy resources make it a natural counterweight to the oil powerhouse of the Middle East.
But this wonderful opportunity to present a united trans-American front against jihad is being jeopardized by attitudes of permissiveness, ignorance, and political correctness. American politicians like Michelle Bachman and Connie Mack who recognize the threat are written off as know-nothing xenophobes. But the news this year indicates that they are correct.