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Thread: Terrorism, Hezbollah, Drugs and the Tri-Border Area

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    Default Terrorism, Hezbollah, Drugs and the Tri-Border Area

    3 August Washington Post - Paraguayan Smuggling Crossroads Scrutinized by Monte Reel.

    CIUDAD DEL ESTE, Paraguay -- For years, this region -- where the boundaries of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina converge -- has been considered a teeming stew of globalization's more unseemly byproducts. Much of the trade that crosses the borders, officials say, is illegitimate. The region is full of smuggled goods and laundered money.

    Now U.S. officials are launching a broad series of new measures aimed at uncovering money-laundering rings that they believe are funding Hezbollah and other radical groups.

    "I am highly confident that's the case," said Daniel Glaser, deputy assistant treasury secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes. "We believe there is evidence."

    The U.S. government's efforts to uncover money laundering by groups linked to terrorism depends largely on the work of local officials. But a scene stumbled upon in the darkness last week hinted at some of the challenges that U.S. and local officials face.

    On a bridge connecting Paraguay and Brazil, Paraguayan border officials were sitting at tables in the dark, using flashlights to check the passports of a tiny fraction of those who crossed, perhaps one in 20 drivers, according to an informal count.

    At the same time, a short distance upstream, two small boats slipped across the water. The boats carried nearly 1,400 pounds of marijuana, bound tightly in bricks of packing tape and stuffed into cardboard boxes. The only reason Paraguayan federal agent Maria Adelaida Vasquez found out about the marijuana was that two officers from the federal prosecutors' office coincidentally were in the neighborhood where the boats landed.

    "We're not in a position to wage a battle against this kind of enterprise," said Vasquez, who said money laundering and other illegal financial transactions are increasingly intertwined with the narcotics trade. "The criminals are on the vanguard of technology, and we don't even have access to the Internet in our offices. If we have cellphones, it's because we buy them with our own money."

    The 20 Paraguayan prosecutors in the region have two trucks available to use. Vasquez just happened to have access to one the other day, and she was able to arrest eight people involved in the transit of the marijuana. Catching them was pure luck, she suggested.

    U.S. Treasury officials have held workshops in the region to encourage more banking sector involvement in regional efforts against money laundering. The Department of Homeland Security's immigration office last week sent a team to Argentina to implement a "trade-transparency unit" -- a team that will collect and analyze trade data and search for irregularities that could suggest money laundering -- and will equip a similar unit in Paraguay in September.

    Meanwhile, the State Department this year helped draft stricter anti-money-laundering legislation that was passed by Argentina's congress. The U.S. Embassy's legal adviser in Asuncion, Paraguay has held training courses during the past year for investigators and prosecutors in charge of combating possible terrorism links, according to the Justice Department.

    Glaser said it is the links to Hezbollah and other radical groups that "concern us most."

    U.S. officials cite a smuggling case in March in which 19 people were charged in Detroit for allegedly operating an international ring that illegally moved cigarettes through Paraguay and Brazil. The indictment alleged that profits were funneled to Hezbollah.

    Additionally, in 2004 U.S. officials designated a businessman operating in Ciudad del Este a terrorist, saying he was a Hezbollah treasurer. The man, Assad Ahmad Barakat, operated a successful import-export business as a front for Hezbollah cells, the Treasury Department alleged...

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    Default Another Front for "Small Wars": Hezbollah in South America

    MSNBC, 9 May 07: Hezbollah Builds a Western Base
    The Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia has taken root in South America, fostering a well-financed force of Islamist radicals boiling with hatred for the United States and ready to die to prove it, according to militia members, U.S. officials and police agencies across the continent. From its Western base in a remote region divided by the borders of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina known as the Tri-border, or the Triple Frontier, Hezbollah has mined the frustrations of many Muslims among the Arab residents whose families immigrated from Lebanon…
    Having personally played a hand in training Paraguayan military forces to defeat terrorists, this issue hits close to home for me. I discuss this issue in more depth at the blog Roguely Stated.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 09-22-2008 at 03:22 PM. Reason: Added link, edited content.

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    Default The Islamic Terrorist Threat from South America

    I wrote this essay for ThreatsWatch a few weeks ago, but thought some of you may enjoy it as well.
    ....The Tri-border area (TBA) of Ciudad de Este, Paraguay, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil, and Puerto Iguazu, Argentina is a lawless region that operates as the hub of a multi-billion dollar business in money laundering, arms sales, drug trafficking, and other criminal enterprises according to a 2006 report issued by the U.S. State Dept.

    Fortunately, the governments of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay are cooperating with U.S. agencies like ICE (Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement/DHS) to set up Trade Transparency Units, which consist of highly-trained financial intelligence specialists to track the “gray” money moving through the region. As of 2006, these units were operating in Argentina and Brazil. The Paraguay unit was planned for but not yet operational. A proprietary software tool called The Data Analysis and Research for Trade Transparency System (DARTTS) analyzes foreign exchange transactions and other secret bank data and forwards the leads to field agents for follow-up......
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 09-22-2008 at 03:25 PM.

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    The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, 22 Sep 08:

    Reassessing the Transnational Terrorism-Criminal Link in South America's Tri-Border Area
    ....although reports regarding al-Qaeda activities in the area are tenuous, the later episodes referring to ongoing Hezbollah operations show that in the aftermath of 9/11 the extent and nature of Hezbollah activities in the area has diminished considerably due to increased law enforcement efforts. However, logistical operations and fundraising are still taking place in the triple frontier. It remains possible that individuals involved in support activities might become operational if ordered to do so. In this sense, the ongoing cooperation between the tri-border countries and the United States has been crucial in keeping illicit activities under tight control in the area, while the push for changes at the legislative level to better regulate terrorism-financing and money laundering-related crimes can also contribute to increasing the effectiveness of law-enforcement operations in the area.

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    Default Terrorism and the Tri-Border Area

    The Specter of Ungoverned Spaces & How Advances in Network Analysis Can Assist Policymakers

    Moderator's Note

    Copied here to this old thread as the example cited in the SWJ article is the Triborder area.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-02-2015 at 10:34 AM.

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    Default Iran and Hezbollah in the Tri-Border Areas of Latin America: A Look at the “Old TBA”

    Iran and Hezbollah in the Tri-Border Areas of Latin America: A Look at the “Old TBA” and the “New TBA”

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    How to handle Hezbollah in Latin America | Sr. Fellow @eottolenghi writes in @csmonitor:
    http://bit.ly/2k9PGGZ#
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-04-2017 at 11:56 AM. Reason: moved from the Syria 2017 thread.

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    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-04-2017 at 12:11 PM. Reason: 18,772v before merging and new title.
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