Turner Returns From Trip To Latin America
“There is a lot of turmoil around the world right now,” said Turner, who sits on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and House Committee on Homeland Security. “Since the primary focus has been on the Middle East, potential threats in other parts of the world have been mostly overlooked. This trip was an opportunity to do a firsthand risk assessment of the area in order to gather information that we can use when making decisions regarding boarder and national security issues.”
Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the Homeland Security Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, emphasized the potential threats from Iran and Hezbollah upon his return from the counter-terrorism factfinding mission.
“The threat of terrorism against Israel, the United States and our interests in the western hemisphere is as real as ever,” said McCaul, who led the bipartisan delegation. “The presence of Iran and Hezbollah in Latin America, and their influence in the region, has increased dramatically. While these are primarily finance cells that fund terrorist operations in the Middle East, I believe they are capable of becoming operational in the event Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities, and Iran retaliates.” The delegation met with government and security officials in Mexico, Colombia, Paraguay and Argentina, and in the South American tri-border region of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.
The tri-border region is home to an estimated 30,000 people of Middle East origin. Corruption throughout the region’s justice system prevents prosecution of suspects believed to be involved with lucrative money laundering operations that funnel an estimated two percent of revenue to Hezbollah operations in the Middle
“With 40 percent of our exports going to the Americas, Latin America is not only our neighbor but also our close economic partner. Our exports to the Americas are growing faster than our trade with the rest of the world, so this relationship is one that is integral to the future of both our regions,” said Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX), ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) and its Qods Force, partnering with Hezbollah, are responsible for deadly attacks against the United States and our allies dating back to the bombing of the American embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, as well as the AMIA Jewish Community Center bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1994. Iran’s plot last year to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington also included plans to attack Israeli and Saudi embassies in Argentina. Evidence that the IRGC attempted to hire a member of a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the plot exposed the nexus between these Transnational Criminal Organizations and has heightened concerns that Iran and Hezbollah operatives could use cartel smuggling routes to enter the United States undetected.