Hezbollah & Iran Vs. U.S. "Containment"

By Rachel Ehrenfeld, Ken Jensen
Friday, February 8th, 2013 @ 6:44AM

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The Bulgarians have concluded their investigation of the July 18, 2012, Burgas bus bombing that killed five Israelis and the Bulgarian driver. They have named the instigators and participants and found Hezbollah responsible. They have done this despite pressure from Western Europe (especially Brussels) not to raise the hackles of who was responsible: namely, Hezbollah.

Interior minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov not only announced that at least two members of the bombing team were Hezbollah, but also that they were part of Hezbollah’s military wing. (“Military wing” is an expression Western Europeans have long ago adopted to maintain the fiction that there are “civil” and “military” wings of terrorist organizations, such as the IRA, PLO and HAMAS. This has justified their negotiations with the terrorists).

The Obama administration’s response to the Bulgarian announcement has been laudable, as far as it’s gone. A spate of government spokesmen have called on Western Europe to finally designate Hezbollah, as a whole, a terrorist organization.

Does the U.S. call-out of the Europeans mean that we will ratchet up our struggle against Hezbollah and its Iranian backers? Not likely. President Obama’s next big act regarding the Middle East is a scheduled visit to Israel and the West Bank in an attempt to justify the reason for his Nobel Peace Price Prize. Never mind that the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have for years been receiving support from Iran and its proxy Hezbollah, from Syria, and now from the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. In addition, the administration is careful to avoid even a hint of a shadow of a doubt that it is attempting to meddle in internal European affairs by requesting to put Hezbollah on their terrorist lists.

Europe has long sought to keep itself out of Hezbollah’s cross-hairs by maintaining the “civil-military” fiction and making sure to say as little as possible about the organization. Most of our friends across the water allow Hezbollah to broadcast their anti-American, anti-West and anti-Semitic vitriolic propaganda on TV and on the Internet, and to raise money here, there, and everywhere, readily accepting the fiction that this is charity work, not terrorist fundraising. Hezbollah’s well organized drug smuggling and other criminal activities throughout Europe are regularly attributed to the individuals who were caught, but not to the organization on whose behalf these crimes are committed. Among other excuses for looking the other way, the Europeans cite the involvement of Hezbollah in Lebanese politics and government. After all, the argument goes, Hezbollah has repeatedly stated its fervent wish not to cause trouble in Lebanon.

The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Schwammenthal has captured the European mentality in this:

“‘There is no automatic listing just because you have been behind a terrorist attack,’ EU Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove told EUobserver last week, in anticipation of the report. ‘As always in the listing process, you need to ask yourself: ‘Is this the right thing to do?’ he said.”

The Burgas bus bombing occurred on the anniversary of the infamous Hezbollah bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina. Last week, Argentina decided to do the “right thing” and agreed with Iran, to establish a “truth commission” that will investigate the 1994 Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) bombing. As former Costa Rican diplomatJaime Daremblum has said, “Imagine if Franklin Roosevelt had partnered with the Japanese to investigate the truth about Pearl Harbor. Or if George W. Bush had partnered with al-Qaeda to investigate the truth about 9/11.”

The U.S. should have ratcheted up action against Hezbollah and its sponsoring state Iran, since their attacks on the American Embassy and Marines barracks in Beirut in 1983. However, the U.S. today, as then, has misunderstood the nature of the Hezbollah and the motivation behind Iran’s genocidal ambitions. Refraining from action against Iran and Hezbollah has only emboldened them. Hezbollah terrorist activity has increased against American, Israeli and Jewish interests, and lives. They’ve carried out terror plots in Cyprus, Turkey, Thailand, Kenya, India, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Bulgaria. And their attempt to assassinate the Saudi and Israeli ambassadors in Washington D.C. had no significant repercussions for either.

“Hezbollah, Portrait of a Terrorist Organization,” published by The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Center in November 2012, provides an excellent analysis of this terrorist organization. Rachel Ehrenfeld’s extensive studies on Hezbollah showed how, by the mid-1980s, Shi’ite Hezbollah loyalists in Western Europe, Latin America, Africa, and even in Australia, had quietly and effectively infiltrated local Muslim communities, gaining control over many. Upon learning that the bombmaker in the Burgas atrocity was an Australian recruit to Hezbollah, Andrew Bolt, a Melbourne based columnist’s asked: “How Do We Admit So Many Hezbollah Recruits?” His article also cited evidence of widespread Hezbollah membership in the country.

Countless legal and quasi-legal institutions – including religious, cultural and economic groups – were established to conceal dormant Hezbollah networks, to finance their activities, to serve as a source for future recruitment of European-based terrorists, and to provide financial support for their attacks.

In addition to Iran’s funding and tactical support, Hezbollah’s funds come from both legitimate and illegal resources. The legitimate channel includes charitable organizations operating worldwide, donations from individuals and proceeds from legitimate business.

Hezbollah’s illegal resources include: money laundering, illegal arms trading and smuggling; counterfeiting and selling currency (U.S. dollar – super notes) and goods (designer clothing and accessories); piracy of compact discs and DVDs; trafficking in humans; conducting elaborate import-export schemes with traders from India and Hong Kong to the Ivory Coast, Belgium, and South and Central America. Hezbollah also extorts “donations” from Shi’ites, especially Lebanese immigrants in North and South America under the threat of physical harm or death.

Hezbollah operatives also generate huge profits from the theft and resale of stolen vehicles and baby formula; credit card, welfare, Social Security, marriage, health care, and insurance fraud; forgery of passports, drivers’ licenses, and other forms of identification; arson; robbery; food coupon fraud; counterfeiting resident alien cards and drivers licenses; telecommunications fraud (such as selling long-distance telephone access through fraudulently obtained services), and through cloning the identification of cellular phone subscribers.

Drug trafficking is the major moneymaker for Hezbollah, endorsed by a special fatwa from the mullahs. In addition to the production and trade of heroin in the Middle East and cocaine in and from South America, Hezbollah facilitates, for a fee, the trafficking of other drug smuggling networks. It cooperates, for example, with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Colombia, and the “Abadan drug ring,” a long-established Iranian drug network that allows them to use the Hezbollah-controlled drug routes in Lebanon to transport heroin and opium from Iran and Afghanistan to Europe and North Africa. More recently, Hezbollah has been working with Mexican drug cartels, thus obtaining easy access to the U.S.

Washington’s claims aside, it is clear that U.S. sanctions are having no useful effect on Tehran. Iranian banks have found a way around its ban from the Swift electronic payment system, and Turkey is purchasing large quantities of gold that they transferred to Iran for enormously inflated oil purchases. U.S. and European companies continue to deal with Iranian front companies, and even American vehicles in Afghanistan use Iranian oil.

Despite it all, administration seems unable to respond beyond the Valerie Jarrett olive branch thrown to Tehran during the run up to the last presidential election and reiterating our belief in engaging our enemies in talk as the key to U.S. security. Chuck Hegel’s announcement of his support of the president’s “containment” policy towards Iran, during his confirmation hearing on January 21, have all but reassured Iran that the U.S. is reluctant to act.

Indeed, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed the latest U.S. attempt to resume another charade of bilateral discussions in Kazakhstan later this month: “I’m not a diplomat; I’m a revolutionary, and speak frankly and directly…. Direct talks will not solve any problems,” said Khamenei. Trita Parsi, Tehran’s advocate in D.C., quickly justified the very public rejection of the first appeasement attempt of the second Obama administration: “As long as the West does not put offers on the table that meet Iran’s bottom line, the calculation goes, Iran should play for time and seek a game changer that enables it to set the terms for a deal,” he stated.

Further Reading

WSJ: Europe’s Hezbollah Hesitation. Brussels is still reluctant to name the Shiite terror outfit for what it is.

Yehudit Barsky: Hezbollah Activities in Europe

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center: Spotlight on Iran – “Black Sunday” in the Majles: unprecedented confrontation between president, Majles speaker

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