With Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, wrapping up his “Terror 2007” tour of countries (Russia, Belarus and Iran) interested in joining his “global anti-American alliance,” it is worth remembering that Venezuela has already been working with Iran for some time now to smuggle terrorists into the United States. According to a 2006 report by the House Committee on Homeland Security:
“U.S. military and intelligence officials believe that Venezuela is emerging as a potential hub of terrorism in the Western Hemisphere.”
“The Venezuelan government is issuing identity documents that could subsequently be used to obtain a U.S. visa and enter the country. Continues the report: There is an ever-present threat of terrorist infiltration over the Southwest border. Data indicates that there are hundreds of illegal aliens apprehended entering the United States each year who are from countries known to support and sponsor terrorism. … According to senior U.S. military and intelligence officials, Venezuela is emerging as a potential hub of terrorism in the Western Hemisphere, providing assistance to Islamic radicals from the Middle East and other terrorists.
“General James Hill, commander of U.S. Southern Command, has warned the United States faces a growing risk from both Middle Eastern terrorists relocating to Latin America and terror groups originating in the region. General Hill said groups such as Hezbollah had established bases in Latin America. These groups are taking advantage of smuggling hotspots, such as the tri-border area of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, and Venezuela’s Margarita Island, to channel funds to terrorist groups around the world. Venezuela is providing support—including identity documents—that could prove useful to radical Islamic groups, say some U.S. officials.
“The Venezuelan government has issued thousands of cedulas, the equivalent of Social Security cards, to people from places such as Cuba, Columbia, and Middle Eastern nations that host foreign terrorist organizations. The U.S. officials believe that the Venezuelan government is issuing the documents to people who should not be getting them and that some of these cedulas could be subsequently used to obtain Venezuelan passports and even American visas, which could allow the holder to elude immigration checks and enter the United States. Recently, several Pakistanis were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexican border with fraudulent Venezuelan documents. “Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, has been clearly talking to Iran about uranium,” said a senior administration official quoted by the Washington Times. Chavez has made several trips to Iran and voiced solidarity with the country’s hard-line mullahs. He has hosted Iranian officials in Caracas, endorsed Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and expressed support for the insurgency in Iraq.
“The Times reports Venezuela is also talking with Hamas about sending representatives to Venezuela to raise money for the militant group’s newly elected Palestinian government as Chavez seeks to build an anti-U.S. axis that also includes Fidel Castro’s Cuba. “I am on the offensive,” Chavez said on the al Jazeera television network, “because attack is the best form of defense. We are waging an offensive battle….” Given all that is happening in Chavez’s Venezuela, some American officials regret that terrorism is seen chiefly as a Middle East problem and that the United States needs to be looking to protect its southern flank. A U.S. intelligence official expressed concern that “counterterrorism issues are not being aggressively pursued in this hemisphere.” Another intelligence official stated terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay are not being interrogated about connections to Latin America. The bottom line, when it comes to terrorism so close to U.S. shores, says the official, ‘We don’t even know what we don’t know.'” -Jameson Taylor