Rep. Peter King held a hearing on Wednesday titled “Iran, Hezbollah, and the Threat to the Homeland.” You can watch the whole hearing on C-SPAN here.
One item under discussion was the estimate that there are “hundreds” of Hezbollah agents working in the United States. Chairman King questioned the panel about that idea in the video below and there was general agreement:
Another disturbing theme was the increased teaming up of Hezbo terror thugs with Latin drug cartels. It seems they both like the billions of dollars to be made by drug trafficking. As Michael A. Braun of Spectre Group International stated in his testimony:
The DEA has conservatively linked at least half of the FTOs [Foreign Terrorist Organizations] with involvement in one or more aspects of the global drug trade, but I believe that number to be far greater, especially when considering that there are so many ways to make hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in the industry. Generating contraband revenue from involvement in the industry can include the taxing of farmers, taxing finished drugs and the movement of drugs and precursor chemicals across borders, providing security to traditional cartels at clandestine laboratories, cache sites and airstrips, the manufacture of drugs, the transportation of drugs, and the distribution of drugs.
The real threat posed by this activity are the countless opportunities groups like the Quds Force and Hezbollah are presented with to develop and nurture relationships with organized crime and terrorist groups here in the Western Hemisphere, in Africa, Europe and many other countries. They are provided with many opportunities to learn from the most sophisticated organized crime syndicates in the world: the Colombian and Mexican drug trafficking cartels, which include the FARC. And these relationships most likely provide the Quds Force and Hezbollah with opportunities to leverage the transportation, money laundering, arms trafficking, corruption, human trafficking and smuggling infrastructures of the Colombian and Mexican drug trafficking cartels, as well as other organized crime and terrorist groups around the world.
I watched part of the hearing but didn’t hear anyone ask about Tehrangeles, as the Iranian section of Los Angeles is called by the many Persians who live there. It would certainly be an ideal place for Hezbo operatives to live and blend in.
Interestingly, the new reality TV show on Bravo, the Shahs of Sunset which focuses on rich young Iranians in LA, reveals a high level of assimilation to the material values of Beverly Hills.
Here’s a news report on the hearing:
‘We have a duty to prepare for the worst’: Peter King warns Iran has ‘hundreds’ of Hezbollah agents in the U.S., Daily Mail (UK), March 21, 2012
Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah may have hundreds of operatives based in the United States, and Hezbollah – not al-Qaida – poses the greatest terrorist threat to Americans, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Peter King, said today.
Since September 11 2001, America’s counter-terror officials have focussed on al-Qaida and home-grown radicalised American extremists, said the New York representative at a hearing of his committee. But, now, the terrorist threat to the United States is shifting.
‘As Iran moves closer to nuclear weapons and there is increasing concern over war between Iran and Israel, we must also focus on Iran’s secret operatives and their number one terrorist proxy force, Hezbollah, which we know is in America. That’s right, we know Hezbollah operatives are here.
‘The question is whether these Hezbollah operatives have the capacity to carry out attacks on the homeland and how quickly they can become fully operational,’ King said.
Opening the hearing, King said, ‘we have a duty to prepare for the worst’, and referred to the 20 Hezbollah-related prosecutions that have taken place in the United States since 9/11.
He also referred to a murder plot allegedly directed by the Iranian government to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. last year as a further warning sign of the potential threat that the country poses to Americans.
King warned that there were hundreds – at a minimum – of Hezbollah operatives in the United States, including 84 Iranian diplomats at the United Nations and in Washington who, ‘it must be presumed, are intelligence officers.’
‘Several of their comrades, of these UN mission types in New York, were removed from the mission and sent back to Iran after the NYPD caught them photographing the city’s rail system in the years since 9/11,’ he said.
Mitchell Silber, the NYPD’s director of intelligence analysis and one of the witnesses to the panel, confirmed that said since 2005, New York law enforcement officers have interviewed at least 13 people with ties to Iran’s government who were seen taking pictures of New York City landmarks. Police considered the activity to be pre-operational surveillance.
He added that New York’s international significance as a terror target and its large Jewish population make the city a likely place for Iran and Hezbollah to strike.
In May 2005, Silber said, tips led the NYPD to six people on a sight-seeing cruise who were taking pictures and movies of city landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge. In September 2008, police interviewed three people taking pictures of railroad tracks. And in September 2010, federal air marshals saw four people taking pictures and videos at a New York heliport.
Interviews with law enforcement revealed that all were associated with the Iranian government, but they were ultimately released and never charged, Silber said.