Iran’s activities in Latin America are a direct challenge to U.S. primacy in the Western Hemisphere. Iran, it seems, wants to replace the U.S. as the power ally of Latin American countries.
While Iran’s nuclear, ballistic missile, and expansionist policies in the Middle East are well known, most of the Islamic Republic’s operations in Latin America appear to have been proceeding underway, below the radar, for several decades.
During a joint news conference on February 4 in Buenos Aires with Argentina’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Faurie, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pledged to combat Hezbollah’s fundraising in Latin America, which is used to finance its terrorist operations. This indicates that U.S. intelligence and enforcement agencies could be closely following Iranian and Hezbollah incursions into Central and South America. The Department of Justice, for instance, recently announced that it had established a Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team (HFNT) to monitor and prosecute the criminal activities of Hezbollah, Iran’s allied terrorist network in the region.
One model to study how Hezbollah and Iran appear to be working in tandem in Latin America is the July 18, 1994 terrorist bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina, allegedly carried out by Hezbollah under the guidance of Iran. This terrorist act was executed when a van packed with 600 lbs. of explosives detonated outside the Jewish center there, the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA). When the building collapsed, 85 people were killed and at least 300 more wounded.