Appearing before The Orthodox Union Presidential Forum in a Boca Raton, FL synagogue on Monday, January 30, 2012, former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) stated that, “When President Ahmadinejad recently toured the capitals of Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador, it was not a form of cultural diplomacy; it was primarily to increase the tempo of preparations for the war against America.” He then added, “It is long past time for us to respond, but instead our president declares imminent victory.”
While Ahmadinejad is the visible figurehead representing the Iranian regime, it is Hezbollah, Iran’s terrorist sub-contractor, which is creating cells throughout Latin America and, inside the U.S. as well. Shortly after the Second Lebanon war between Israel and Hezbollah, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee held hearings on the Global Reach of Hezbollah’s cells. The Committee heard testimony regarding the capabilities of Hezbollah to attack the U.S. and other western targets. The protocol from the hearing clearly established Hezbollah’s “wide reaches” under the military leadership of Imad Mugniyah, who was assassinated in February 2008 in Damascus, Syria.
U.S. Representative Ed Royce, Chairman of the International Terrorism and Nonproliferation Subcommittee, had this to say during the hearings: “Hezbollah isn’t just a menace to Israel, Lebanon and the region. According to the State Department terrorism report, Hezbollah has ‘established cells in Europe, Africa, South America, North America, and Asia.’ “One witness,” Rep. Royce continued, “will tell us that Hezbollah’s organizational and logistic network exists in over 40 countries; this includes a significant presence in our own hemisphere, in the tri-border region of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. The network operates in West Africa, where Hezbollah has been active trading ‘blood diamonds,’ an issue the Africa Subcommittee explored when I chaired it.
Rep. Royce added, “Many Americans may be surprised to learn that Hezbollah’s global reach includes significant activities on U.S. soil.” Royce characterized Hezbollah as posing a “grave threat” and, he repeated a statement made by a former Deputy Secretary of State in 2002 that, “Hezbollah may be the A-team of terrorists and maybe al-Qaeda is actually the B-team.” He added, “Hezbollah’s lethality is magnified by the support it receives from state sponsors of terrorism, primarily Iran.”
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State on Terrorism Frank Urbanchik testified at the same hearings that the U.S. is particularly concerned over the close ties between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iran’s terrorist tool – the Hezbollah.
Addressing retirees at The Villages in FL on January 29, 2012, Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich referred to President Obama saying, “He lives in a fantasy world where there are no enemies” and, he characterized the president’s perception of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez as “just misguided people with whom he has not yet had coffee.“ Gingrich went on to say, “We watched him go see Hugo Chavez and we watched him smile and be friendly while Chavez deliberately, cynically and insultingly gave him an anti-American book and Obama didn’t have a clue he’d been insulted. You know, Ahmadinejad, the dictator of Iran, says that he wants to wipe out Israel and drive America out of the Middle East. Now, as a historian, I have a pretty good sense of what that means. It means he wants to wipe out Israel, and drive America out of the Middle East. But if I were a left-wing Harvard Law graduate surrounded by really clever left-wing academics, I would know that this is actually a sign that Ahmadinejad probably had a bad childhood…”
The Associated Press reported on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 that “Iran’s president lauded his country’s newly launched Spanish-language satellite TV channel, saying it would deal a blow to “dominance seekers” — remarks that were an apparent jab at the U.S. and the West.”
The launch is Tehran’s latest effort to reach out to Iran-friendly governments in Latin America and comes on the heels of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s four-nation tour of the region earlier in January, which included stops in Cuba and visits to Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador.
In 2007, a similar announcement was made by Ahmadinejad about the opening of Iran Air’s new Tehran to Caracas link, except that those flights do not accept open bookings, as transport for entrepreneurs or sightseers surely would. No, these planes are most likely carrying bad actors from the likes of Hezbollah, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Guard’s Quds Force.
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, who hates the U.S. as much as does Ahmadinejad, is the ideal Iranian ally. Chavez, who has visited Iran seven times, has made deals with the Islamic Republic worth an estimated $20 Billion according to Michael Rowan and Douglas Schoen in their Forbes article of 1/21/09, titled Terror at Hugo Chavez’s Hand. Israeli intelligence sources speculate that the weekly flights between Caracas and Tehran are used to transfer uranium from Venezuela to Iran, which is then purified by the Iranians.
Also considered is the possibility that the Tehran-Caracas flights are being used to transport weapons and Pasdaran – Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) officers – to Venezuela in order to strengthen Chavez’s grip on Venezuela and transform it into a potential threat to the U.S. by installing long range missiles in Venezuela that can reach the U.S. Such a scenario is reminiscent what resulted in the Cuban Missile crisis of1962, when the Soviet Union supplied Cuba with missiles. The difference is of course that in 1962 President John F. Kennedy challenged the Soviets and the missiles were removed. The Obama administration is yet to challenge Ahmadinejad or Chavez.
According to an article in the German daily, Die Welt, of November 25, 2010, an agreement between Iran and Venezuela was signed during the last visit of President Chavez to Tehran on October19, 2010. The previously undisclosed contract provides for the establishment of a jointly operated military base in Venezuela, and the joint development of ground-to-ground missiles. Venezuela has agreed to allow Iran to establish a military base manned by Iranian missile officers, soldiers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Venezuelan missile officers. In addition, Iran has given permission for the missiles to be used in case of an “emergency”. In return, the agreement states that Venezuela can use these facilities for “national needs” – radically increasing the threat to neighbors like Colombia.
The German daily claimed that according to the agreement, Iranian Shahab 3 (range 1300-1500 km), Scud-B (285-330 km) and Scud-C (300, 500 and 700 km) will be deployed in the proposed base. It further stated that Iran also pledged to help Venezuela gain expertise in advanced rocket technology and that intensive training of their officers would be provided.
A few days after the report appeared in Die Welt, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon held a press conference in his Jerusalem office, and invited Latin American reporters. He stated that, Venezuela has become Iran’s forward base in Latin America. Both countries have joined in a pact of mutual interests to form an axis that threatens not only the Middle East but America as well and the U.S. in particular.”
At the recently held CNN Florida Republican Presidential debate in Jacksonville, FL, Senator Santorum did not mince words about Obama’s Latin America policy when he said, “The policy under President Obama has been abysmal. We had a terrible policy on Honduras. Obama sided with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. He was siding with leftists and Marxists, not standing up for our friends in Columbia.” Santorum’s warnings are dire and given the evidence he is correct in asserting that “It is long past time for us to respond.”
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