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State Department: No al-Qaida, Hezbollah Cells in Western Hemisphere

Image: State Department: No al-Qaida, Hezbollah Cells in Western Hemisphere
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attends the funeral of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Caracas on March 8, 2013.

By    |   Monday, 03 Jun 2013 12:11 PM

There are no known operational al-Qaida or Hezbollah cells in the western hemisphere, according to a new State Department report on international terrorism activities.

But sympathizers in South America and the Caribbean "continued to provide financial and ideological support to those and other terrorist groups in the Middle East and South Asia," the "Country Reports on Terrorism 2012" states.

Iran has been behind a "marked resurgence" of sponsoring terrorism, it says, noting that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela during the year.

The report said that while al-Qaida and Hezbollah were not directly active in the Americas last year, other terror organizations were, and some criminal activities committed could be connected with supporting overseas organizations.

"In 2012, the majority of terrorist attacks within the Western Hemisphere were committed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia," the report said. It said that the border areas of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil "continued to be an important regional nexus of arms, narcotics, and human smuggling, counterfeiting, pirated goods, and money laundering — all potential funding sources for terrorist organizations."

In addition, it said, Iran has "trained Taliban elements on small unit tactics, small arms, explosives and indirect fire weapons, such as mortars, artillery and rockets," and that since 2006, Iran has arranged arms shipments to Taliban members.

Most countries in Central and South America reported remaining vigilant against terrorist organizations, but justice is coming slowly in some cases. In Argentina, for example, authorities are continuing to investigate those suspected in the July 18, 1994, bombing of the Argentine-Jewish Mutual Association community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and injured more than 150.

An Argentine prosecutor has accused Iran of operating "intelligence stations" that were used to "commit, encourage, and sponsor terror attacks," but the country has accepted Iran's offer to have the nations' foreign ministers meet to explore how to move forward on a case that implicates several senior Iranian officials, including its defense minister, for Interpol arrest warrants.

The report, which also detailed the struggles against terrorism throughout Central and South America, pointed out that in Mexico, authorities said they are vigilant against terrorism. "International terrorist organizations do not have a known operational presence in Mexico, and no terrorist group targeted U.S. citizens in or from Mexican territory."

Mexico works in coordinated border security and shares intelligence with the United States, the report stated.

"The United States supported these efforts by providing training and equipment to Mexican law enforcement and security agencies, sharing information, and promoting interagency law enforcement cooperation," the State Department noted.

The two countries also coordinated efforts to prevent third-country nationals from crossing the border, with "increased coordination of patrols and inspections and improved communications across the border."

In addition, Mexico added security to its Guatemala-Belize border, and "remained an important partner nation in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program," the report added.

The report noted continued problems with Venezuela. For a seventh consecutive year, State determined that the country is not cooperating fully with U.S. antiterrorism efforts.

"The Venezuelan government took no action against senior Venezuelan government officials who have been designated as Foreign Narcotics Kingpins by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for directly supporting the narcotics and arms trafficking activities of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)," said the report.

In addition, Venezuela "maintained its economic, financial, and diplomatic cooperation with Iran," and Ahmadinejad visited there, and announced, with late leader Hugo Chavez, the signing of agreements for housing materials, construction, agriculture, and shipping.

Moreover, Chavez, who died in March, unveiled an unarmed, unmanned-aerial vehicle that he claimed his country had produced domestically with Iranian technology.


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There are no known operational al-Qaida or Hezbollah cells in the western hemisphere, according to a new State Department report on international terrorism activities.
hezbollah,terrorist,cells,west
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2013-11-03
Monday, 03 Jun 2013 12:11 PM
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