Entries with label anti-terrorism .

Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia and Honduras have already C , while Brazil and Guatemala have pledged to do so shortly.

  • The 25th anniversary of the AMIA bombing served to unleash a cascade of pronouncements, breaking down the lack of adequate legal instruments against the group

  • Several countries have established lists of terrorist organisations, allowing for greater coordination with the US in the fight against terrorism in the region.

  • Hezbollah's involvement in the TBA's illicit economies and drug trafficking networks explain the decision of the countries concerned in South and Central America.

report to those killed in the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires [Nbelohklavek].

report to those killed in the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires [Nbelohklavek].

report SRA 2020 / Mauricio Cardarelli [PDF version].

The 25th anniversary of the biggest terrorist attack in Latin America - the attack on the association Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) on 18 July 1994 - prompted several countries in the region to announce their intention purpose to declare the Lebanese Shiite organisation Hezbollah a terrorist organisation group . Hezbollah is blamed for the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people, as well as the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in the Argentine capital two years earlier, which killed another 22 people.

The year 2019, then, marked an important leap in the confrontation of Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere, since previously no Latin American nation had declared this organisation to be a terrorist organisation, which the United States, the European Union and other countries have identified as such. In fact, Latin American codes of law, beyond the guerrilla phenomenon itself, have barely taken external terrorism into account, as these are states that have not suffered as much as other parts of the planet from the rise of international terrorism, especially so far this century and above all from the hand of Islamist radicalism.

The round of declarations was opened by Argentina itself in July, on the anniversary of the AMIA massacre. In mid-August it was Paraguay's turn, while Brazil then announced its intention to follow in the same footsteps. lecture Later, US efforts catalysed the process, so that at framework of the Third Hemispheric Ministerial Meeting on Combating Terrorism, held in mid-January 2020 in Bogotá, both Colombia and Honduras proceeded to include Hezbollah on lists of terrorist organisations. For his part, the Guatemalan president-elect pledged to take a similar step when he takes office.

The cataloguing already effectively carried out by Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia and Honduras (countries attentive to Hezbollah's activity in the so-called Triple Frontier or its involvement in drug trafficking), and the as yet unimplemented but supposedly imminent cataloguing of Brazil and Guatemala should help to make the fight against this radical group by the national security forces and in the sentences handed down by the respective courts of justice more forceful.

If in 2018 the arrest of part of the Barakat clan's network was already a step forward in police coordination between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay in the area shared border (the Triple Frontier, a place of intense commercial activity and of financing and concealment of Hezbollah operatives, sheltered by elements of a large Muslim population), the steps taken in 2019 constitute a decisive action.

Infiltration in Latin America

Hezbollah militants and cells have been able to penetrate Latin America in recent decades primarily by taking advantage of the Lebanese diaspora. Following Lebanon's civil war between 1975 and 1990, thousands of people emigrated to the American continent, sometimes settling in places where there was already a certain Arab presence, as was the case with Palestinians or Syrians. While some of these immigrants were Christian, others were Muslim; the latter's awareness of the fight against Israel led to the formalisation of networks for financing radical groups, in a process of money laundering from the profuse commercial activity - and also smuggling - carried out in many of these enclaves.

A strategic point in this dynamic has been the Triple Frontier, home to some 25,000 people of Lebanese origin, as well as other Arab groups: it is the area with the most Muslims in Latin America. The porous border connects Ciudad del Este (Paraguay), with 400,000 inhabitants; Foz de Iguazú (Brazil), with 300,000; and Puerto Iguazú (Argentina), with 82,000. It is a hotbed of illicit activities linked to money laundering, counterfeiting, smuggling and drug trafficking. Illicit trade in the TBA is estimated to be worth some $18 billion a year. The authorities have been able to identify Hezbollah financing networks, as well as the presence of group operatives (the preparations for the Buenos Aires bombings of 1992 and 1994 were traced back to this tri-border enclave). Last year, Assad Ahmad Barakat and some 15 members of his clan, which generated funds for Hezbollah, were arrested.

Other points of support for Hizbollah have been certain places in Brazil with mosques and radicalised Shia cultural centres, which host activities of extremist clerics such as Bilal Mohsen Wehbe. On the other hand, Hugo Chávez's rapprochement strategy with Iran involved a close relationship partnership manifested in the submission of Venezuelan passports to Islamists and their involvement in the drug trade under the protection of Chávez's leadership. This interrelation also contributed to its greater dispersion throughout the region, through Hezbollah's progressive links with those involved in the drug trafficking structure, such as the FARC or some Mexican cartels (Los Zetas and Sinaloa).


Designation of Hezbollah as group terrorist


Cascade of signals

Argentina opened the round of Hezbollah finger-pointing (and the creation, in most cases, of lists of terrorist groups, which did not previously exist in Latin American countries) on the 25th anniversary of the AMIA bombing in July 2019. The then president Mauricio Macri, who had put an end to the Kirchnerist presidencies of certain complicity with Iran, approved the creation of a public register of persons and entities linked to acts of terrorism and its financing (RePET).

On the occasion of the landmark anniversary, the University Secretary of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, encouraged the countries of the contin ent to make this subject declaration against Hezbollah.

Paraguay followed in Argentina's footsteps a month later. Mario Abdo Benítez's government had been criticised for failing to act decisively on the Triple Frontier, whose smuggling, such as tobacco, and other illicit activities feed the perception of corruption that accompanies the country's politicians. The Paraguayan president also plans to introduce a package of legislative reforms against money laundering.

Brazil announced on 20 August its intention to proceed in the same way as its two neighbours, although it has not yet implemented this decision. At the end of February 2020, Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of the Brazilian president and national deputy, confirmed that the step would be taken 'soon'; he suggested that the delay in adopting the measure was due to the fact that the grade of group terrorist is also being considered for other organisations, such as Hamas.

In December it was Guatemala's advertisement , whose president-elect, Alejandro Giammattei, announced that he would blacklist Hezbollah when he took office position . Giammattei linked the decision to a pro-Israeli policy that would also lead him to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following the example of the US (Honduras and Paraguay are also on the same line). Giammattei took office on 14 January, but has yet to implement his promises.

Behind these moves by Latin American countries was US diplomacy. The deployment of US diplomacy was evident in the third meeting of the Hemispheric Counterterrorism Ministerial lecture , an initiative promoted by Washington with Hezbollah in its sights, among other objectives. This meeting was held on 20 January 2020 in Bogotá and was attended by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, attendance .

Colombia took advantage of meeting, which it hosted, to announce its consideration of Hezbollah as a group terrorist organisation. President Iván Duque announced that three days before the country's National Security committee he had adopted the US and EU lists of terrorist individuals and organisations. The approved list included the ELN guerrillas and FARC dissidents, with the former FARC disappearing from the list.

Honduras, the Central American country that is the most compliant with US strategies, also carried out its international advertisement at the same lecture. Its foreign minister commented at the end of a previousmeeting of the National Security and Defence committee that Honduras had designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation group and proposed the creation of a register of individuals and entities linked to terrorism and its financing.

Categories Global Affairs: Security and defence Articles Latin America