by STEVE EMERSONMarch 26, 2012
Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hizballah have seeded the United States with hundreds of operatives, some of whom are capable "of flipping a U.S.-based fundraising cell into a lethal terror force, should Iran decide that is in its interests," a preliminary report from the House Homeland Security Committee finds.
As tensions escalate over Iran's nuclear weapons program, the committee met Wednesday to assess the possibility of Iranian/Hizballah attacks in the United States in retaliation for sanctions or a possible military strike. Last fall's unraveling of an Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington showed that Iranian leaders "now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived US actions that threaten the regime," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a Senate panel in January.
Suspect Manssor Arbabsiar told investigators that "he was recruited, funded and directed by men he understood to be senior officials in Iran's Qods Force."
New York presents a top target in any future plot, NYPD Director of Intelligence Analysis Mitchell Silber told the committee. Between 2002 and 2010, NYPD and federal officials identified at least six cases in which Iranian diplomats were caught conducting "hostile reconnaissance of New York City," he testified. In one case, people carrying credentials from the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Company ignored incoming and outgoing flights, photographing and videotaping the landing pad and waterline at the Wall Street Heliport.
Other witnesses described the kinds of criminal activity in the United States linked to Iran and Hizballah. Chief among them was a massive cigarette smuggling ring based out of North Carolina that sent profits back to Hizballah leaders in Lebanon. Many of the suspects had military training from Hizballah, said former Chris Swecker, who served as Assistant Director of the FBI's Criminal Division and who worked on the case.Read more: Family Security Matters http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/detail/hizballah-iran-have-hundreds-in-the-us#ixzz1x3uhmXeO
March 21, 2012MAJORITY PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATIVE FINDINGS
Iran, Hezbollah and the Threat to the Homeland
A common view within the Intelligence Community is that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force works very closely around the world with Lebanese Hezbollah.
After 9/11, many in law enforcement and intelligence assumed Hezbollah would only strike inside our borders if Israel or the U.S. attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran’s unprovoked plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington has changed that thinking.
Counterterrorism officials consider Hezbollah fundraising cells to be prevalent across the United States. Sophisticated operations have been uncovered within large Lebanese communities in Michigan and New York, but also in places such as Charlotte, N.C.
There is general consensus among dozens of experts as well as current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials interviewed by the Majority Investigative Staff that Hezbollah – more than any other terror group – is the most capable of flipping a U.S.-based fundraising cell into a lethal terror force, should Iran decide that is in its interests.
Pinning down a reliable estimate of the number of Hezbollah operatives who now reside inside the U.S. is difficult because of their operational security expertise. But some officials estimate that, based on cases uncovered since 9/11, there are likely several thousand sympathetic donors, while operatives probably number in the hundreds.
Most Hezbollah-linked Federal defendants have been Lebanese nationals or naturalized U.S. citizens from Lebanon; many of those charged by the Department of Justice over the past decade remain at large in Lebanon.
The U.S. government has exposed many defendants’ direct contacts or family ties to senior Hezbollah leadership, such as convicted militant Mahmoud Kourani in Detroit, who was trained in Lebanon and Iran. Three of his brothers were also members, including one who was Hezbollah’s military security chief in southern Lebanon, prosecutors said.
Many defendants were known or suspected of having military training or direct combat experience against Israeli forces. Some were quietly convicted of fraud and deported as criminal aliens without their Hezbollah background being publicly disclosed by prosecutors, the Majority’s Investigative Staff has learned.
U.S. CASES INVOLVING IRAN: U.S. v. ARBABSIAR and SHAKURI
U.S. CASES INVOLVING HEZBOLLAH:
U.S. v. LEBANESE CANADIAN BANK SAL (Civil Complaint Filed: Dec.15, 2011)
U.S. v. JOUMAA (Nov. 23, 2011)
U.S. v. SAADE (Feb. 8, 2011)
U.S. v. HENARAH et al. (Feb. 01, 2011)
U.S. vs. AKL, AMERA A. and U.S. v. AKL, HOR. I. (June 3 and 7, 2010)
U.S. v. HODROJ, et al (Nov. 24, 2009)U.S. v. TARRAF, et al. (Nov. 20, 2009)
U.S. v. KOUMAIHA, et al (Nov. 17, 2009)
U.S. v. NAYYAR, et al. (Oct. 26, 2009)
U.S. v. AYOUB, (Aug. 05, 2009)
U.S. v. ALOMARI, et al. (Feb. 24, 2007)
U.S. v. IQBAL, (Nov. 15, 2006)
U.S. v. CHAHINE, et al. (May 18, 2006)
U.S. v. RAHAL (May 18, 2005)
U.S. v. MAATOUK (Nov. 10, 2004)
U.S. v. KHALIL (June 16, 2004)
U.S. v. KOURANI (Nov. 19, 2003)
U.S. v. HAYDOUS (Apr. 23, 2003)
U.S. v. AKHDAR, et al. (Feb. 03, 2003)
U.S. v. BOUGHADER-MUCHARRAFILLE (Nov. 15, 2002)
U.S. v. HAMMOUD (March 2002)