A U.S. military official warns of an Iranian terrorist network operating in Latin America. According to the official, these Iranian-backed terrorist groups are working hand in hand with drug trafficking groups. This Iranian terrorist network in Latin American poses a threat to the United States.
The deputy commander of U.S. Southern Command, Lieutenant General Ken Tovo, shared this warning while speaking with the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee recently.
Toyo told the committee in Washington, “While there is not yet any indication that the criminal networks involved in human- and drug-trafficking are interested in supporting the efforts of terrorist groups, these networks could unwittingly, or even wittingly, facilitate the movement of terrorist operatives or weapons of mass destruction toward our borders, potentially undetected and almost completely unrestricted.”
Iranian Terrorist Network Not Alone in Latin America
Military leaders have been concerned that Islamic extremists groups were operating in Latin America. It is well known that Lebanon-based Islamic militant group Hezbollah has deep roots in Latin America and is operating with individuals involved in illegal activities such as drug-trafficking in the area.
And speaking of terrorists threatening the United States from below our southern borders, we shared a story recently about warnings of ISIS fighters reaching our borders in the south following the same routes as drug and human traffickers.
At a Pentagon briefing, Gen. John Kelly warned that South American, Central American and Caribbean states have little to no ability to track and monitor foreign fighters returning from being trained by ISIS.
Iranian Terrorist Network Establishing Roots
While there doesn’t seem to be the same overwhelming evidence of the Iranian terrorist groups in Latin America as there is with Hezbollah, there are some disturbing trends military officials are seeing develop. Iran has established more than 80 cultural centers in the region according to Lieutenant General Ken Tovo.
Tovo went on to add, “As the foremost state sponsor of terrorism, Iran’s involvement in the region and these cultural centers is a matter for concern, and its diplomatic, economic and political engagement is closely monitored.”