Iran aggressively recruiting Latin American converts to Islam to enter U.S. from Mexico
Why border control is a national security issue. "Iran Aggressively Recruiting ‘Invisible Army’ of Latin American Converts to Infiltrate U.S. Through ‘Soft Belly’ of the Southern Border," by Sara Carter in The Blaze, September 3:
Iran is recruiting an “invisible army” of revolutionary sympathizers in Latin America to infiltrate the U.S. through the “soft belly” of the southern border, U.S. officials and national security experts told TheBlaze. And they’re using one website in particular to do it.
The Iranian regime’s conversion efforts are becoming increasingly aggressive, especially over the Internet, with the goal of conducting operations against United States interests in the Western Hemisphere, according to U.S. government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the nature of their work in the region.
Islamoriente.com, which focuses on religion and politics, is one of Iran’s main recruitment and conversion websites for Latin America on the Internet, TheBlaze has learned. The site, which launched in 2008, includes links to Iranian television for Spanish speakers, anti-American news stories, essays on reasons to convert to Islam, chat rooms and a personal message from the Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran....
Jim Phillips, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and expert in Iranian affairs, said Iran’s focus on Hispanic converts is a new evolution in Iranian operations in Latin America. Phillips said Khamanei’s message titled “The Importance of Work and the Nobility of the Worker” in Islam, is significant because the Ayatollah is “normally a background player in these sorts of efforts and doesn’t usually play such a public role.”
“Historically, Iran has tried to recruit agents from the Lebanese Shi’ite diaspora in South America and West Africa,” Phillips said. ”This emphasis on Hispanic converts is something new.”...
In 2009, six U.S. officials confirmed in an earlier investigation conducted by this reporter that the designated terrorist group Hezbollah, which is supported by the Iranian government, had been using the same narcotics routes used by drug cartels into the U.S.
That has not changed but now “Iran’s goal is to recruit people that can be utilized against U.S. interests” and blend in without raising suspicion, the U.S. official said.
Hezbollah is based in Lebanon and was founded after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It has grown into a major political, military and social welfare organization, which is controlled and financed by Iran and in 2006, it fought a 34-day war against Israel.
Hezbollah members and supporters have entered the U.S. through the southern border as early as 2002, with the case of Salim Boughader Mucharrafille, a Mexican of Lebanese descent. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison by Mexican authorities on charges of organized crime and immigrant smuggling. Mucharrafille had owned a cafe in the border city of Tijuana, near San Diego. In 2002, he was arrested for smuggling 200 people into the the U.S., including Hezbollah supporters, according to a 2009 Congressional report.
In 2005, Mahmoud Youssef Kourani, the brother of a Hezbollah chief, pleaded guilty to providing material support to Hezbollah after being smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border and settling in Dearborn, Mich.
“Now what they desire is a proxy terrorist group that can easily slip past U.S. border security,” the U.S. official added. “Who’s going to suspect an illegal immigrant from Venezuela, Mexico, or anywhere else for that matter, of being a jihadist?”