Iran's Growing Influence in Latin America Threatens Jews in the Region
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Brazilian police foiled a terror attack last week against Jewish targets after a tip from Israel's spy agency, Mossad. Two members of Hezbollah were arrested.
The news of the plot comes in a region that saw horrific bombings in 1992 and 1994 of the Israeli embassy and a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Both the work of Hezbollah and Iran.
Dr. R. Evan Ellis, a Latin American specialist at the US Army War College, says that during a time of war in the Middle East, the growing influence of Iran and Hezbollah in Latin America creates not only a strategic threat to the United States but a danger for Latin America's Jewish community.
"If what is happening in the Middle East right now heats up into a hot war between the United States and Iran. One can expect that Iran will seek to mobilize its proxy networks, Hezbollah, and others throughout the hemisphere. And so, it's not unthinkable that numerous attacks that could be undertaken against both Israeli and Jewish community targets and U.S. targets," Ellis said.
Iran's influence can be seen behind the decisions of four Latin American nations to remove or recall their ambassadors from Israel after it attacked Hamas in Gaza. They are Chile, Bolivia, Honduras, and Colombia. The Bolivian government announced it will cut diplomatic ties with Israel.
Iran has been forging military and business alliances with dictators and corrupt leaders in Latin America for decades, most famously with Venezuela, which is helping Iran build drones and is hosting camps for Hezbollah fighters and transporting members of Iran's Quds force.
Latin Americans are also get a steady diet of anti-U.S. programs through Iran's HispanTV, which blankets the region.
Earlier this year, Brazil's socialist government ignored U.S. protests and allowed Iran to dock two warships in Rio de Janeiro.
In Buenos Aires, Dr. Ariel Gelblung with the Simon Wiesenthal Center says the fact that Iranian and Hezbollah agents are operating freely in Latin America has Jews in the region on alert.
We are all worried here in Argentina and in all, all Latin America about this. If they can't attack in southern Lebanon to Israel, they will try in another place," he told CBN News. "There are worries, of course, to protect the Jewish community in this country."
Latin America has become a win-win opportunity for Iran as it builds profitable alliances for itself while helping strengthen governments that are hostile to the United States, and also hostile to Jews.
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