Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Soft Underbelly, Part 3

In an overview of activities of the US Deparment of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), entitled NDIC Accomplishments, Fiscal Year 2007, we find the following:

Throughout FY2007, NDIC's Document Exploitation (Doc Ex) and Computer Exploitation (Comp Ex) programs made significant contributions to ongoing high-level investigations targeting drug trafficking, money laundering, terrorism, and other criminal activities that impact U.S. national security. In FY2007, the Doc Ex Branch completed 71 missions, half of which were in support of OCDETF investigations. Eighty-eight percent of Doc Ex missions were at the request of DEA or FBI, while other Doc Ex missions were conducted on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. Attorneys Office (USAO), and DoD. The success of NDIC's Doc Ex program and the increased demand for foreign language missions encouraged NDIC to establish a satellite Doc Ex unit at the Utah National Guard Joint Language Training Center, which contributed 12 foreign language missions to the 68 total Doc Ex missions in FY2007.


Although Doc Ex missions are predominantly conducted in support of drug trafficking investigations, they have frequently been conducted to confirm suspected links or reveal unknown links between drug trafficking and terrorism. In FY2007, the Doc Ex Branch supported several drug-terrorism investigations including a Doc Ex mission that identified links between southern Philippines drug traffickers and elements of designated foreign terrorist organizations, namely the Abu Sayyaf Group and Jamayah Islamiyah.

Doc Ex Branch has supported another drug-terror investigation aimed at disrupting and dismantling five Arab Tri-Border Area (TBA) drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) that operate in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay as well as in surrounding areas and in Europe and the Middle East. All five groups have been linked to Islamic Radical Groups.

NDIC's Doc Ex Branch supported DEA's Special Operations Division by analyzing information on a high-level drug trafficker, money launderer, arms dealer, and terrorist who is documented in 74 DEA investigations dating back to the 1970's. Historical evidence indicated that this individual and his associates have trafficked multiton quantities of hashish and heroin and laundered tens of millions of dollars in drug proceeds. In addition, this individual had also brokered international multimillion dollar arms deals for Yemen, Kuwait, Syria, Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, and Colombia and has supported several Middle Eastern terrorist groups including the Palestine Liberation Front, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Once again, the links between terrorism and other crimes are evident. This reminds us of the Sibel Edmonds case, as Edmonds explains in the following excerpt from Former FBI Translator Sibel Edmonds Calls Current 9/11 Investigation Inadequate by Jim Hogue, May 07, 2004:

JH: Can you explain more about what money you are talking about?

SE: The most significant information that we were receiving did not come from counter-terrorism investigations, and I want to emphasize this. It came from counter-intelligence, and certain criminal investigations, and issues that have to do with money laundering operations.

You get to a point where it gets very complex, where you have money laundering activities, drug related activities, and terrorist support activities converging at certain points and becoming one.

This nexus of terrorism linked with other kinds of criminal activity, often addressed at Stop Islamic Conquest, is of particular concern, when one considers the trafficking of drugs to the United States, plus the growing presence of Islamic terrorist organizations from the Middle East in Latin America. We now begin to review Hezbollah presence in Venezuela feared, by Chris Kraul and Sebastian Rotella, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers, August 27, 2008:

The Lebanese Shiite militia, linked to deadly attacks in Argentina in the 1990s, may be taking advantage of Chavez's ties with its ally Iran, terrorism experts say.

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Western anti-terrorism officials are increasingly concerned that Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite Muslim militia that Washington has labeled a terrorist group, is using Venezuela as a base for operations.

Linked to deadly attacks on Jewish targets in Argentina in the early 1990s, Hezbollah may be taking advantage of Venezuela's ties with Iran, the militia's longtime sponsor, to move "people and things" into the Americas, as one Western government terrorism expert put it.

As part of his anti-American foreign policy, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has established warm diplomatic relations with Iran and has traveled there several times. The Bush administration, Israel and other governments worry that Venezuela is emerging as a base for anti-U.S. militant groups and spy services, including Hezbollah and its Iranian allies.

"It's becoming a strategic partnership between Iran and Venezuela," said a Western anti-terrorism official who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the issue's sensitivity.

Several joint Venezuelan-Iranian business operations have been set up in Venezuela, including tractor, cement and auto factories. In addition, the two countries have formed a $2-billion program to fund social projects in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America.

Those deepening ties worry U.S. officials because Iranian spies around the world have been known to work with Hezbollah operatives, sometimes using Iranian embassies as cover, Western intelligence experts say.

In June, Assistant Secretary of State Thomas A. Shannon said Iran "has a history of terror in this hemisphere, and its linkages to the bombings in Buenos Aires are pretty well established."

"One of our broader concerns is what Iran is doing elsewhere in this hemisphere and what it could do if we were to find ourselves in some kind of confrontation with Iran," Shannon said.

Fears about the threat from Hezbollah's global networks intensified after the slaying in February of Imad Mughniyah, a notorious leader of the militia, in Damascus, the Syrian capital. Hezbollah and Iran accused Israel and promised revenge, putting Western authorities on guard against attacks on Israeli or Jewish targets around the world.

Although the Bush administration is embroiled in political conflict with the Chavez government, allegations that Hezbollah and Iranian spies operate in Venezuela date to the 1990s, before Chavez took office.

The most concrete allegations of a Hezbollah presence in Venezuela involve money-raising. In June, the U.S. Treasury Department designated two Venezuelan citizens as Hezbollah supporters and froze their U.S. assets.

Treasury officials formally accused Ghazi Nasr al Din, a Venezuelan diplomat of Lebanese descent, of using posts at embassies in the Middle East to support financing for Hezbollah and "discuss operational issues with senior officials" of the militia.

Nasr al Din "facilitated the travel" of Hezbollah members to and from Venezuela and to a "training course in Iran," according to Treasury officials. The president of a Shiite Muslim center in Caracas, he served as a diplomat in Damascus and later in Beirut, authorities say.

The second Venezuelan targeted by Treasury is Fawzi Kanan, a Caracas-based travel agent. He is also alleged to have facilitated travel for Hezbollah members and to have discussed "possible kidnappings and terrorist attacks" with senior Hezbollah officials in Lebanon. The Treasury allegations did not specify whether the alleged discussion involved plots for kidnappings in Venezuela or elsewhere.

In comments to a Venezuelan reporter, Kanan dismissed the charges as lies. The Venezuelan government has strenuously denied that it is harboring militants.

First of all, I don't believe Chavez' government. Chavez has been actively destabilizing Colombia by supporting FARC terrorists.

In any case, Chavez might not realize the threat to his own government posed by the kind of people he is letting into his country, and helping move into ours.

Stay tuned!

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