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11.30.2006

Hezbollah in Latin America?

A fake Hezbollah organization goes down in Venezuela, while the real one continues to pull in money:

Then things took a turn for the strange. On November 13th, Darnott posted a short screed claiming that Reyes had been assassinated by the CIA and the Mossad while in DISIP custody. He called for a much more serious and damaging attack in retaliation, and the site now included a picture of a propane-cylinder device that would probably be much more lethal than the pipe bombs used in the failed October 3rd attack. He also posted a picture of U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield with an annotation that he was "worthy of death." Since the failed attempt in October corresponded precisely to prior warnings on the websites, this new threat was worth taking very seriously.

That was the last posting he would make for a while. Now we know why: On November 18th, the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal reported that the DISIP -- Venezuela's FBI -- had detained a Teodoro Rafael "Nardot" (sic) in a suburb of Maracaibo. He was charged in connection with the October 3rd bombing and with violations of Venezuela's "delinquent organizations" law, and remains in DISIP custody -- along with Jose Miguel Reyes Espinosa, the tales of whose martyrdom by the CIA and Mossad were, apparently, greatly exaggerated.

Darnott will have some time to contemplate where he went wrong. It wasn't the terrorist recruiting, per se, that led to his arrest. Chavez is reported to look the other way for another terrorist group, Colombia's FARC, who occasionally find refuge from Colombian troops by lying low in Venezuela. Projecting power throughout Latin America through a proxy terror group might actually appeal to Chavez's ambition.

But terrorists within Venezuela need to keep a low profile. No one wanted a buffoon like Darnott drawing attention to Hezbollah's presence. Chavez is drawing ever closer to Iran, Hezbollah's chief sponsor, and before this story broke reporters had already begun to question the relationship between the Iranian embassy in Venezuela and Hezbollah's activities there. Given a likely Iranian-embassy connection to Hezbollah's 1994 bombing of a Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, such scrutiny is quite justified. Darnott's anti-Israel and anti-American activities stirred up resistance among the local synagogues, and attracted attention in the blogosphere and on Fox News.

Also, while Chavez frequently relies on a mythical impending U.S. invasion as an excuse for further tightening his control over his country, the last thing he wants is an actual U.S. invasion. A major strike against an American embassy or ambassador would have invited retaliation from the United States, especially since Darnott was able to recruit terrorists publicly and with impunity all summer long and Chavez had done nothing about him.


Seems like a potential vector for terrorist activity to me.

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