The ominous threat posed by the Chavez-Ahmadinejad Axis.
The next 9/11-style terrorist attack may originate from the unlikeliest of places: socialist Venezuela. This is because that country’s Marxist president, Hugo Chavez, who has been busy creating his own version of the Warsaw Pact, is dropping hints that his nation’s territory might be used as the launch pad for an Islamist assault on the continental United States.
Some have difficulty taking the famously flamboyant Chavez seriously. He is, after all, the erratic fellow who blamed the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti on the U.S. He poses for photos with a parrot on his shoulder. He rants -- and sometimes sings – on Sundays on his TV show about whatever pops into his head, whether it’s about his bouts with diarrhea or his unhappiness with his cabinet ministers.
But despite his eccentricities, it’s important to remember that Chavez openly works with the terrorist groups Hamas, Hezbollah, and FARC -- a Marxist-Leninist narco-terrorist group in neighboring Colombia. Hamas and Hezbollah have offices in Caracas, and Chavez funds FARC. A congressional report indicates Iran’s fanatical Revolutionary Guard is active in Venezuela. A State Department report notes Venezuela’s close working relationship with terrorism-sponsoring Cuba.
Let’s follow the bread crumbs:
Chavez has made no secret of his abiding hatred of America and its freedoms. He calls capitalism “savagery” and President Barack Obama “a poor ignoramus.” Obama got off easy. Chavez referred to President George W. Bush as “the Devil.”
It’s no coincidence that Islamofascist fanatic Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, leader of Iran (the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism), and Chavez are good friends. Last year, Chavez and Ahmadinejad announced that their two countries had formed a “strategic alliance” to end U.S. “imperialism.” The two nations will seek to “establish a new world order based on humanity and justice,” the Iranian president said. Until recently, Venezuela had been helping Iran get through temporary problems with its oil refining capacity by shipping 20,000 barrels of gasoline a day to the Islamic Republic. The program, in operation since 2009, ended in February 2011 when Iran reportedly achieved self-sufficiency in gasoline production.
Chavez defends Iran’s allegedly peaceful nuclear energy program, and has plans to develop a nuclear program of his own. He denies that he intends to develop a nuclear weapons program. “Who in Venezuela could take on a project of that type? Who? We aren’t going to take it on.”
Not many were surprised when Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), the government-owned oil company that also operates CITGO in the U.S., unveiled a plan in October to invest $780 million in Iran’s South Pars field, the largest natural gas field in the world. PDVSA’s involvement with Iran is important because the company is regarded as a “black box” that funds Chavez’s overseas political ambitions. Oil export revenues fuel Chavez’s petro-diplomacy.
Meanwhile, Chavez’s friends in Iran have been reaching out to other left-of-center nations in the Americas. Iran recently donated a $2.5 million hospital in El Alto, Bolivia near La Paz. Iran has pledged $1.1 billion in development aid to Bolivia, which responded by seeking closer military ties to the emerging Middle Eastern power.
Chavez and Bolivia’s Marxist president, Evo Morales, see eye to eye. In fact, Chavez has called the partnership between Venezuela, Bolivia, and Iran, the “Axis of Annoyance” for its ability to vex the United States.
And Morales does not take a back seat to Chavez in denouncing their common foe. “Capitalism is the worst enemy of humanity,” Morales said, as he called for its destruction. “I would like to say that the origin of this crisis is the unbridled consumption and accumulation of capital in a few hands, the looting of natural resources, the commercialization of Mother Earth, and above all, I believe its origin lies in an economic model—capitalism,” he told the United Nations.
Other Chavez-friendly Latin American countries may join the socialist-Islamist entente. Iran has been courting Ecuador, whose government is headed by leftist president Rafael Correa. Last year, Ecuadorian Vice President Lenin Moreno signed an agreement with Iran to build three hydroelectric projects in Ecuador. Iran also has significant, though less extensive, ties to the left-leaning regimes in Brazil and Chile, but their association is likely to grow stronger.
Even without Iran’s help, Chavez has been attempting to export chaos to America for years. While the U.S. government was taking a beating in the media for its post-Katrina relief efforts, Chavez attempted to embarrass the Bush administration by providing aid to the Katrina-hit Gulf Coast.
Chavez had already been running a “public diplomacy” campaign in the U.S. to help bolster American support for his regime. The propaganda effort involved funneling discounted home heating oil to the nonprofit group Citizens Energy Corp., which is run by former Congressman Joe Kennedy II (D-MA). The nonprofit then distributed the oil to poor people, and useful idiot Kennedy was able to pose as a humanitarian. Kennedy went on TV a few years ago to berate the Bush administration, which he said “cut fuel assistance.” Kennedy praised his benefactor Chavez, claiming that Venezuelan socialism had helped to ease suffering in America. In a commercial, he said that “CITGO, owned by the Venezuelan people,” had helped poor Americans while their own government stood idly by.
While he was still a leftist, recovering community organizer Brandon Darby took a trip to Venezuela that quashed his remaining radical impulses. Darby traveled to Caracas in 2006 as part of a delegation from his own nonprofit, Common Ground, which was created to help rebuild New Orleans after it took a devastating hit from Hurricane Katrina. Darby wanted to have the Chavez government provide funding to keep the organization afloat. “I had this idea of having ‘Chavez trailers’ for displaced residents to live in. This would embarrass FEMA into supplying trailers,” he said. Darby said he didn’t realize when he came up with the concept that using money from abroad to influence the U.S. government might be illegal, but Chavez government officials he met with insisted it would violate U.S. law. “They told me I would get in trouble, and they wanted to work out a way to make the project happen,” he said.
During the month Darby was in Venezuela, government officials introduced him to executives working for PDVSA. They pressured Darby to journey to neighboring Colombia to meet with a group aligned with the narco-terrorists of FARC and to visit another revolutionary group in Maracaibo, Venezuela.
According to Darby, Chavez wanted to create a terrorist network in rural Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. Senior officials in the Chavez government and in PDVSA told him they wanted him to create a revolutionary army of guerrillas in the swamps of Louisiana. Aghast, Darby refused, returned to America, and soon abandoned radicalism.
Instead of using the Red Cross in his post-Katrina relief efforts, Chavez called on radical left-wing charities, including the Vanguard Public Foundation and the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund. Apparently an informal charity, Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund maintains a MySpace page filled with rabidly anti-American propaganda. “Katrina put a spotlight on the horrors of racism, sexism, national oppression, poverty and environmental destruction in the U.S.,” the page lectures. It also demands that “the American Government [be put] on trial for its Katrina related crimes against humanity.”
As part of his outreach campaign in the U.S., Chavez has given $1.5 million to Casa de Maryland, a Washington, D.C.-area charity that advocates for illegal aliens. The grant is being paid by CITGO.
As we have seen, Chavez has already engaged in soft tactics aimed at undermining the United States. With a little help from his Islamist terrorist friends in Iran, he may one day soon decide to take his mischief to the next level.
Matthew Vadum is a senior editor at Capital Research Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank that studies the politics of philanthropy. His book on ACORN and its infiltration of the Obama administration will be published in mid-2011.