This is a partial compilation of information on the role Venezuela has been playing in the promotion of, and assistance to, global terrorism.
1. The Venezuelan embassy in Iraq
In an investigation made by Andreina Flores, see: http://periodistainternacional.com/2015/11/24/diplomatico-venezolano-denuncia-emision-de-documentos-para-terroristas-de-medio-oriente/ and a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e40yE3jBg4&feature=youtu.be you can read, see and hear Misael Lopez, a Venezuelan lawyer, 40 years old, who was employed in the Venezuelan embassy in Iraq in 2013, talking about the situation in that embassy. He witnessed illegal events at the embassy, essentially the emission of false Venezuelan documents such as birth certificates, identity cards and passports to Syrian, Palestinian, Iraqi and Pakistani nationals. The embassy employees charged these persons between $5-15,000 to provide them with those documents without any selection process and under the approving eyes of the diplomatic authorities of the Venezuelan embassy. According to Lopez some of these documents were given to persons linked to Hezbollah. In particular the translator at the embassy, a Mrs. Sanna Kamal Al Shikhli, was denounced by Lopez for the illegal utilization of security material from the embassy such as seals, printed official paper and formats, in order to provide foreign with false birth certificates. This accusation was presented to the Venezuelan Ambassador Jonathan Velasco, March 29, 2014, documented with photographs: .
The employee had offered Lopez to share in the “business”, mentioning 12 Syrian national willing to pay $12,000 for each Venezuelan passport. Lopez refused the offer and presented his charges. The employee was fired and received a $25,000 severance bonus. However, she is again working for the Venezuelan embassy, in Amman, Jordan. Ambassador Velasco did not pay any attention to Lopez charges and did not transmit the event to his superiors in Venezuela. In fact, Lopez was fired in August 2015 and claims to have received death threats from unknown persons but also from Ambassador Velasco himself. A local employee at the embassy, Aryan Abdulmalek Noorildeen, was murdered only hours after the departure of Lopez from Iraq.
Lopez says he was tired of seeing how Venezuela facilitated the free transit of terrorists from the Middle East to the western hemisphere by providing them with false documentation. He became a whistle blower, he says, because there was no action on the part of the Venezuelan authorities. Speculating on how many foreign nationals from Iraq, Palestine and Syria have had access to false Venezuelan documents he says: 50,000 (I find this number difficult to believe).
The investigation by Andreina Flores extended to the Venezuelan Ambassador, Jonathan Velasco. He said that Misael Lopez did work in the Embassy but he denied any wrongdoing in the offices of the embassy. He said that the emission of documents of this type to foreign nationals can only be done in Venezuela, cannot be done in an embassy. And he put the files of the embassy at the disposal of the newspapermen.
2. A Venezuelan terrorist detained in London
A man called Hazil Muhamad Rahaman Alan ,40 years old, was detained in Gatwick Airport, London in 2003, with a hand grenade, trying to travel. He was interrogated by Scotland Yard, in the Paddington Green Station Paddington Green. recently it was confirmed that this man a Venezuelan national, listed in the Venezuelan Electoral Registry and had voted in Venezuela, in Turmero, Aragua State.
3. Chavez promoted terrorist organizations since 2002
In the early 21st century Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez’ regime was already enabling Islamic terrorist organizations to take root in South America. In December 2002 freelance journalist Martin Arostegui published an article in Insight Magazine (“Chavez plans for a terrorist regime”) in which he reported the arrival in Venezuela of Hakim Mamad Ali Diab Fattah, a member of Hezbollah. Venezuelan officials received him at the airport. In connection with his presence in the country Arostegui interviewed the former Venezuelan Intelligence Director, General Marcos Ferreira, who said Fattah represented only the tip of the iceberg in a Cuban-Venezuelan operation to promote the infiltration of terrorists from Hezbollah into the U.S. Between 200 and 300 Cuban intelligence, he added, were already active in this project within Chavez inner circle, led by Cuban Captain Sergio Cardona. Ferreira also identified Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, the current Minister of the Interior of Chavez, as Chavez’s designated link with the terrorists. In 2005, Barbara Newman reported that the Venezuelan Island of Margarita had become a main center of financing for Hezbollah in Latin America and that members of this organization were entering the U.S. with Venezuelan documents obtained in that island. In 2006 I reported on the installation by Hezbollah of small cells in the Venezuelan side of the Guajira Peninsula, bordering with Colombia. (Gateway Pundit, September 1, 2006). Also in 2006, a report by a U.S House of Representatives sub-committee led by Texas Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) asserted that the government of Hugo Chavez was providing support to terrorists, including false identity documents that “could prove useful to radical Islamic groups”. Venezuela, the report added, “is emerging as a potential hub of terrorism in the Western Hemisphere, providing assistance to the Islamic radicals from the Middle East”.
4. Training of Venezuelans in Lebanon
In 2008 a fresh wave of detailed information about the links between Hugo Chavez and Hezbollah emerged. Writing for Caracas newspaper “El Nuevo Pais”, Venezuelan exiled journalist Patricia Poleo published two articles (June 13 and June 20, 2008) in which she describes how Hezbollah in Lebanon was training young Venezuelans in the use of firearms and explosives. “The young Venezuelans”, she says, “are members of Chavez’s political party PSUV, and are recruited by, among others, Tarek el Aissami, current Venezuelan Vice-Minister of the Interior and by Gahzi Nasr Al Din, at the Venezuelan Embassy in Damascus, Syria [later moved to the Venezuelan embassy in Lebanon]”. Poleo says that, after the Venezuelans trained in Lebanon returned to their country, they linked with radical groups of their same party and of the Bolivarian University. These groups, Poleo adds, are closely connected with Hezbollah in Venezuela and with Iraqi Al-Qaeda members living in Venezuela, as well as with the Venezuelan chapter of the Palestinian Democratic Front, led by Salid Ahmed Rahman, who has his office in downtown Caracas. Poleo says that there are ten or more training camps of Hezbollah in Venezuela. She identified one of the most notorious members of Hezbollah in Venezuela as explosives expert Abdul Ghani Suleiman Wanked, who is Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s right hand.
Her second article provided specific information about the connections of Hezbollah terrorists with the Chavez regime. Poleo said that a key man behind this activity was Raymundo Kabchi, a Lebanese born lawyer with Venezuelan nationality. Mr. Kabchi was an “advisor” to the Venezuelan Foreign Minister for some years and is the person who recommended Nasr Al Din for his job at the Venezuelan embassy in Damascus, Syria.
The U.S. government moved against some Venezuelan members of Hezbollah. In June 20, 2008 the Treasury Department designated as terrorists two Venezuelan supporters of Hezbollah, Ghazi Nasr Al Din, the same person mentioned by Poleo in her articles, and Fawzi Kan’an, along with two travel agencies owned and operated by Kan’an. This designation was taken pursuant to Executive Order 13224, which targets terrorists, those acting on their behalf or those providing them with financial, technological or material support. The assets of these two persons in the U.S. have been frozen. In their designation the Treasury Department asserts that Nasr Al Din has facilitated the travel of Lebanese Hezbollah representatives to Venezuela to ask for financial support. Kan’an is also identified as a major financial supporter of Hezbollah.
5. FROM the World Almanac of Islamism, 2014
Summary in: http://almanac.afpc.org/Venezuela
· There was a special relationship between the Venezuelan government and Hezbollah. Venezuela provided political, diplomatic, material and logistical support to Hezbollah. As in most of Latin America, Hezbollah, Iran’s chief terrorist organization, is the primary Islamist force in Venezuela. Capitalizing on the network of enterprising Lebanese Shi’a merchants throughout the country’s larger cities, the group uses the South American country for fundraising and various forms of money-laundering, smuggling, and fraud. The basic model is said to be a simple “pay to play” system, in which Lebanese Shi’a merchants are persuaded by Hezbollah agents and financiers, through varying degrees of coercion, to “tithe” to Hezbollah.
· Most worrisome, however, is the network of underworld connections that Hezbollah is building throughout the hemisphere from its base in Venezuela. According to former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roger Noriega, Hezbollah operatives were collaborating with sophisticated and high level drug-smugglers and guerrillas in the region. Walid Makled Garcia’s “Lebanese Cartel” (Cartel Libanés) and Ayman Jouma’s cocaine smuggling and money-laundering scheme are two examples Noriega cited in recent testimony to the U.S. Congress of prominent narco-traffickers wanted by U.S. law enforcement whose organizations provide funding for Hezbollah. Makled is now in prison in Venezuela since Colombia refused to send him to the U.S., where he would have been an invaluable witness.
· There are more than 100,000 Muslims in Venezuela, primarily of Lebanese and Syrian descent, and concentrated in Margarita Island and Caracas. While Margarita Island’s Muslim population is almost entirely Lebanese Shi’a, there are Sunni Muslims elsewhere in the country, and Caracas has a largely Sunni population of 15,000 which is served by the largest mosque in Latin America, built by the Saudis as a sister mosque to the Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Ibrahim mosque in Gibraltar. There are other mosques in major cities of Maracaibo, Valencia, Vargas, Punto Fijo, and Bolivar. Local cable television outlets in Margarita carry Al-Jazeera and the Lebanese Hezbollah outlet LBC, while on the mainland the Saudi Channel is available via satellite as well.
· The picture of Islamism and society in Venezuela resembles that of much of Latin America. This is to say that while there is a vague anti-globalist sense that pervades society, actual friendship with Islamist aims is at the political and not the religious level.
· Ever since Hugo Chavez took his first trip to Iran in 2001, upgraded relations with the Islamic Republic have become a cardinal tenet of Venezuelan foreign policy. In October 2010, Chavez announced an initial study of nuclear capacity for his country, a move analysts believe could be largely one of cover for Iran’s program which Venezuela has been supporting for several years. Earlier, in November 2008, Iranian and Venezuelan officials signed a secret “science and technology” agreement formalizing cooperation “in the field of nuclear technology.” As part of that outreach, Iranian Minister of Science, Research and Technology Mohammad-Mehdi Zahedi led a delegation to hold talks with Venezuelan high-ranking officials in Caracas. .. During the visit, Chavez promised to provide the Islamic Republic with 20,000 barrels of petrol a day, despite the sanctions on Iran’s economy being contemplated by much of the responsible world and in spite of Venezuela’s own problems in supplying its domestic markets with fuel. Subsequently, a whirlwind visit to Iran by Chavez in September 2009 yielded a new deal on nuclear cooperation. The agreement was an addition to a rapidly growing list of bilateral pacts between Caracas and Tehran. Venezuela announced the agreement to purchase Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) from Iran in 2007. U.S. State Department cables, published by WikiLeaks, reveal an Iranian shipment of Mohajer-2 unmanned aerial vehicles in violation of UNSC 1747 bound for Venezuela sometime before May 2009.15 Despite U.S. sanctions, in November 2011, the first Mohajer was spotted at El Libertador airbase in Ochoa. In the summer of 2012, a Spanish news source, ABC.es, broke a story about U.S. investigations into the program and Chavez admitted and shared pictures of the UAVs, according to a Reuters report. But this drone cooperation, troubling enough in itself, may mask still more troubling cooperation. Speculation, as yet uncorroborated, exists that Venezuela and Iran have signed an agreement to construct a joint missile base in Venezuela and co-develop ballistic missilesThe joint ventures erected between Caracas and Tehran, and the purchase of Venezuelan enterprises, allow Iran to do business with U.S. companies and even within the United States itself. Because of the direct connection between Caracas and Tehran, efforts to contain trade with Iran are futile without cutting off the billions of dollars of legitimate U.S. trade with Venezuela, according to Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.
· These ties, moreover, have expanded in recent years; in April 2009, the two countries launched a bi-national bank with $200 million of initial capital—with each country contributing half— and a final goal of $1.2 billion.19 The bank is supposed to finance projects of mutual benefit to the two countries. Based in Venezuela, it will offer a convenient channel for Iran to sidestep U.S.-led sanctions along with the several branches of Iran’s Saderat Bank already open there.20 During Iran’s 2009 elections, Chavez offered “total solidarity” to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, equating attacks on him as an assault by “global capitalism,” and condoned the brutal tactics of Iran’s domestic militia, the basij, in their crackdown on opposition protesters.
· Iran reciprocated these friendly feelings. When he decorated Hugo Chávez with the Higher Medal of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2008, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Chávez “my brother… a friend of the Iranian nation and the people seeking freedom around the world. He works perpetually against the dominant system. He is a worker of God and servant of the people.” Ahmadinejad even risked a public embrace of Chavez’s grieving mother at the caudillo’s funeral, a move which scandalized the mullahs back home.
6. The role of Tareck El Aissami, see:
In his superb profile of Tareck El Aissami Alek Boyd says: “The most interesting aspect of El Aissami's operation is not money laundering by his proxies, but rather abuse of his station at ONIDEX to give Venezuelan IDs to a number of internationally wanted criminals / terrorists. The news from OFAC linked above reveal that Hezbollah operatives in South America got Venezuelan IDs under El Aissami's "watch". While in charge, ONIDEX created new identities for a number of people. Intelligence reports sent to us claim that as many as 173 individuals believed to be collaborating with terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering were either naturalized, or got Venezuelan visas and IDs using fake names. Abbas Hussein HARB, for instance, identified by OFAC as part of a money laundering network related to Hezbollah and Ayman Saied JOUMAA, has two Venezuelan IDs (21495203 and 26405022). As of this writing both are valid. Kassem Mohamad SALEH, also designated as Hezbollah collaborator, has a valid Venezuelan ID (22075502), as shown in electoral records.
Granting Venezuelan citizenship to terrorists, as done by El Aissami, is not an isolated event. .El Aissami also gave access to Venezuela's identity databases to ALBET (a Cuban front controlled by the Castro’s), which .
7. The recommendations of Heritage Foundation about Venezuelan terrorism
In his 2010 paper “
He says: “Congress should pass a resolution calling for placing Venezuela on the state sponsors of terrorism list and the Obama Administration should promptly proceed with adding Venezuela to the list. While largely symbolic because of existing restrictions on arms sales and technology transfers, it would give the U.S. greater authority to monitor U.S. financial transactions with Venezuela. The U.S. should make sure that the full rigor of the law is applied to Venezuela's commerce and trade in order to prevent Venezuela from acting as a front for Iran or other terrorism-friendly regimes.
The U.S. is losing the battle against massive disinformation spawned by Chavez. If the Obama Administration wishes to preserve the security of the hemisphere, it must move to more proactive rebuttals with skilled public affairs efforts. Take the U.S. embassy's Web site in Caracas, , which fails to post any information that challenges the outlandish assertions made by Chávez regarding U.S. policy in places like Colombia. In brief, the Obama Administration needs to develop an informational campaign to counter disinformation.
The threat posed by Chávez and his allies is far from overt. It lies in the asymmetrical contest that pits the lesser accumulation of threats, such as drug trafficking, arms smuggling, and money laundering, to erode U.S. power and influence. The U.S. must do a better job of collecting, analyzing, and distributing intelligence regarding Chávez and the active threat posed by traditional terrorism and narcoterrorism in the Americas. It should use available intelligence platforms, such as the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JITF-South) at Key West and the new observation locations in Colombia, to monitor Venezuelan support for narcoterrorism and criminal activity.
The Administration should make clear its commitment to supporting and defending friends, such as Colombia, from overt aggression and intimidation by Venezuelan military forces or indirect aggression through Venezuelan support for the FARC. Beyond the recent Defense Cooperation Agreement, the U.S. should be prepared to give Colombia a guarantee of political and, if necessary, military support against a threat of unprovoked attack by Chávez and the Venezuelan military. This will help moderate Colombian anxieties and silence those who are beginning to question U.S. readiness to help Colombia resist Chávez's bullying. Congress should cement the relationship with Colombia by passing long-delayed Free Trade Agreements with Colombia and Panama.
8. The Argentina – Venezuela connection.
The elections in Argentina and the upcoming legislative elections in Venezuela will have a strong impact on the influence of Muslim terrorism in these two countries and, by extension in the region. In the case of Argentina,
Dr. Evan Ellis says:
"While not all terrorist groups are Islamic, Argentina has the largest Muslim community in the region after Brazil, and many of the Islamic terrorist cells uncovered in the region have had ties to Argentina, including Mosheen Rabani, the Iranian diplomat accredited in Buenos Aires, who reportedly worked from his base in the country to recruit terrorists in other Latin American countries, such as Abdul Kadir, who reportedly developed a plan in 2007 to blow up New York’s John F. Kennedy airport.
For its part, the Argentine government has long sought justice and clarification regarding the 1992 and 1994 attacks against Jewish targets in the greater Buenos Aires area, and probably would welcome U.S. technical assistance and resources as it continues its efforts to get to the bottom of the case. Indeed, as recently as October 2015, Argentina experienced an elevated alert when one of its consulates received a report of a possible attack by terrorists of Malian ethnicity against a major shopping mall".
In Venezuela a major victory by the opposition could lead to the investigation of persons such as El Aissami, believed to be one of the main links with Muslim terrorism in Venezuela. This man, now Governor of the State of Aragua, has also been mentioned by international media as involved in drug trafficking,