Hezbollah suspected of setting up camp in Venezuela
Senior Israeli political official: Nasrallah established major terrorist base in Venezuela under Chavez sponsorship. Hezbollah members collect intelligence from continent, including Brazil, Argentina, and Peru with objective of carrying out a low-profile revenge attack for assassination of Imad Mughniyeh
Venezuela has become Hezbollah's major terrorist outpost in South America. The Venezuelan regime reportedly provides aid for the terrorist organization that has taken root in its territory, according to a senior Israeli official.
Threats have been volleyed back and forth between Hezbollah and Israel recently. Senior Israeli officials warned that if the organization makes an attempt to attack Israeli targets, the response will be unforgiving. Hezbollah responded in kind with a threat of its own that if Israel were to attack Lebanon, the Jewish State will pay a heavy price.
It has recently been made clear that Israel's public warnings on the issue stem from intelligence assessments that Hezbollah is investing significant efforts to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli targets and Jewish institutions in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Peru in a bid to avenge the death of the organization's late leader Imad Mughniyeh, who was assassinated in Damascus more than a year ago.
According to the Israeli source, Hezbollah operatives in South America are collecting intelligence to this end. The Israeli intelligence community estimates that Hezbollah will try as much as possible not to leave identifying footprints that could associate the organization with the attack in the wake of such a strike in a bid to avoid Israel's heavy hand. In the same vein, it is estimated that the organization will not take public responsibility for a terrorist attack if it were to carry one out successfully.
This is also the reason the organization is purportedly looking to carry out an attack far away from Israel.
Egypt has recently exposed cluster of secret Hezbollah-related terrorist cells that planned on assassinated Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Shalom Cohen. Another cell that planned on targeting Israeli tourists was discovered in Jordan. On this backdrop, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon warned that should Hezbollah attack Israeli targets anywhere around the globe, harsh retaliation will ensue.
During his visit to South America a few weeks ago, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman handed over information to his Latin counterparts on Hezbollah's activities in the countries he visited. According to the Israeli source, the main objective is to signal to Hezbollah that Israel is aware of the organization's subversive activities in South America and is keeping close watch.
"We sought to deter them and to say to them that the Israeli response will be difficult to bear should they try to take action against Israelis anywhere," warned the source.
Western media outlets have reported in recent months about a warming relationship between Iran and Venezuela, under the leadership of anti-American Hugo Chavez. It seems that Hezbollah is taking advantage of the growing friendship in order to establish itself in Latin America.
The US Treasury Department indicted two Venezuelan citizens last year for supporting Hezbollah, and froze their assets in the United States. One of them, a diplomat of Lebanese Shiite ancestry, used his position to transfer funds to Hezbollah and to help members of the organization move between Venezuela and Iran for training. The other is a travel agent from the capital city, Caracas, who aided Hezbollah members in planning attacks.
Western counter-terrorism experts warn that Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have established special units to kidnap Jewish businessmen from Latin America and to bring them to Lebanon.