Hezbollah in South America

Hezbollah in the Tri-Border Area of South America

 

by Cyrus Miryekta

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Hezbollah, Lebanon's Iran-sponsored Shi'i Muslim terrorist organization, has established global networks in at least 40 countries. Its growing presence in South America is increasingly troublesome to U.S. policymakers, yet there are few experts on Hezbollah and fewer still on Hezbollah Latino America. Hezbollah's operatives have infiltrated the Western Hemisphere from Canada to Argentina, and its activity is increasing, particularly in the lawless Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. This research was conducted to expose the actions and objectives of Hezbollah in the TBA. The majority of US officials and operators believe that Hezbollah's terrorist wing is separate from its political wing, but these are misconceptions from people who "mirror-image" the American experience when assessing Hezbollah. Unfamiliarity with the organization makes these assessors vulnerable to its propaganda, which is a severe problem that permeates the US government and its operatives. People who think Hezbollah is or could be compartmentalized or disunited are not familiar with the organization and perceive Hezbollah through the lens of the organization's extensive propaganda effort. Hezbollah has a large operational network in the TBA, which generates funds for the party, but its primary mission is to plan attacks and lie dormant, awaiting instructions to execute operations against Western targets. The following is a look at Hezbollah's modus operandi, an analysis of how operational its networks in the Tri-Border Area are, as well as some possible solutions to this threat. First, is an examination of how Hezbollah traditionally operates to establish the context.

Download the Full Article: Hezbollah in South America

Cyrus Miryekta is a veteran paratrooper of both Afghanistan and Iraq with the 82nd Airborne, who has fought Islamists from 9 different nations in 3 separate countries. He recently earned his M.A. in Statecraft and National Security from The Institute of World Politics.

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Comments

Great job Cyrus! An outstanding contribution to knowledge! Keep up the good work!

There has been a middle eastern presence, "Los Palestinos", in the TBA for over 30 years. It only makes sense that Hezbollah or another player would work to expand on that presence for strategic advantage. What is really amazing-impressive-scary, regardless of the operational objective of Hezbollah in the TBA, is the effort they put into to expanding and improving their global reach. They are not local-regional players and anyone viewing them as such is missing a much bigger picture.

cyrus's article portends a very grim future for the united states. with the drug war in mexico eating up u.s. policy maker's attention it is all too easy to forget about smaller enemy groups. they are counting on this so that they can infiltrate our borders and wreak havoc within. the american people seem to only think that terrorist activities will only happen in large cities, but someday it will come to our small sleepy towns and no one will be prepared for that eventuality.

to the those who would discount or discredit this article i say you are only kidding yourselves. ask an israeli born citizen what it is like to grow up in israel.

There's no doubt that 1) Hizbullah's global activities are of interest to the US IC, and 2) there are a variety of interesting things that take place in the TBA. However, this analysis is so simplistic and lacking in nuance that it makes the analytical problems worse, rather then helping to resolve them.

Let''s start with this rather sweeping statement:

"The majority of US officials and operators believe that Hezbollah's terrorist wing is separate from its political wing, but these are misconceptions from people who ―mirror-image the American experience when assessing Hezbollah. Unfamiliarity with the organization makes these assessors vulnerable to its propaganda, which is a severe problem that permeates the US government and its operatives."

Really? And you concluded this on the basis of a handful of interviews? Have you actually ever seen any analysis on Hizbullah, or any of the raw intelligence? What is the source for this sweeping indictment of work you've never seen?

"People who think Hezbollah is or could be compartmentalized or disunited are not familiar with the organization and perceive Hezbollah through the lens of the organization's extensive propaganda effort."

There's little doubt that Hizbullah is compartmentalized--there's ample evidence in the OS material.

"Hezbollah has a large operational network in the TBA, which generates funds for the party, but its primary mission is to plan attacks and lie dormant, awaiting instructions to execute operations against Western targets."

Do you have any evidence for this? External attacks are a small and diminishing part of Hizbullah's organizational repertoire, the TBA is not the most effect place to organize them from, and yet Hizbullah presence there is primarily to establish sleeper cells for its exceedingly rare external attacks?

Lebanese Shiites have emigrated in large numbers since the late 1960s. Large numbers of them support Hizbullah, as do the majority of Lebanese Shiites in Lebanon. Many also find boasting of their Hizbullah connections--whether real or imagined--a useful way of building diaspora street cred. Understanding this requires nuanced and informed social network analysis (informed by COMINT and HUMINT, as well as OS data), not paranoia.

"Global domination through violent Shi'ism is its highest objective."

That's the objective of Hizbullah? Really, this is beyond silly... and just how are they going to do that, by converting us all? Hizbullah certainly has global reach, but it very much has a predominately Lebanese focus. It is not some sort of Shi'ite AQ clone.

"L.L. was trying to assess me and I believe she wants more information on me. She aggressively insisted she receive a copy of this paper, which she will most assuredly not be getting."

Most university research ethics protocols would REQUIRE that you to pass on the results of academic research to an interview subject who requests it. Indeed, you could be subject to disciplinary action if you refused. Quite apart from that, it is so important that this professor not get a copy of this paper... that's you've posted it publicly on the internet? Sheesh.

"Cyrus Miryekta is a veteran paratrooper of both Afghanistan and Iraq with the 82nd Airborne, who has fought Islamists from 9 different nations in 3 separate countries. "

"Islamists" are not identified by the USG as the enemy--the term simply refers to political groups who favour (as do, say, many Christian evangelicals in the US, or the religious parties in Israel) a greater role for religion in public life, law, and governance. Fellow NATO member Turkey, after all, has an "Islamist" government.

I wrote about the TBA for my Master's thesis. This is a great work Mr. Miryekta! It's ridiculous what is taking place in the TBA and it's worrisome to know that there isn't much being done to put a little more focus on what is going on down there. I am not saying that we should focus all our attention on the TBA as we do with the Middle East, however, we must pay closer attention to what is going on closer to home in my honest opinion.

Hezbollah's legitimate political activities in Lebanon are far more relevant today than even its current resistance efforts in the south, or its relatively miniscule foreign overtures.

I fail to see the need to downplay to such an extreme degree its legitimate political inner workings within the Lebanese government, other than to provide a perspective in the most alarmist if terms.