Global Reach Of Terrorism, Particularly In Latin America, Often Overlooked

Is Iranian Influence In Latin America Being Ignored?
While U.S. intelligence and military officials have voiced concerns about Iran’s growing presence in Latin America, particularly members of Iran’s elite Qods Force, many policymakers in Washington have overlooked the threat, says Yleem D.S. Poblete in National Interest.

On the positive side, sanctions have been imposed by the US on individuals or entities in the region believed to be violating Iran-related sanctions and border agents continue to monitor the US-Mexico border for potential criminal activities. However, the threat is not fully appreciated by the Administration, Poblete asserts.

” The bad news is that Latin America, as a national-security priority, barely registers with the Executive Branch when decisions are being made on strategy, assets, resources and funding to counter vital threats, such as terrorism and proliferation. The Quadrennial Defense Review for 2014, for example, placed greater emphasis on global climate change than on security developments in the Hemisphere,” he writes.

Furthermore, in its 2013 report to Congress, the State Department treated Iran and Hezbollah as distinct or isolated from each other and de-linked their activities in Latin America and the Caribbean from those in the United States.

A year later, the administration has not reviewed its findings, as it promised Congress it would do. There are no indications U.S. intelligence agencies have been tasked with delving further into Iranian activities in the Hemisphere, nor that additional resources have been provided. The lack of cross-regional coordination or integration continues in large part.

As part of a new series, the website War on the Rocks is compiling a graphic analysis of terrorism in Latin America. The first feature provides an overview of the most active regions in terms of total number of terrorist attacks since 1970.

According to the site, in the 1980s and 1990s, Latin America was the epicenter of global terrorism with more than 17,293 terror attacks – more than all other regions combined (13,643), and nearly four times as many as the next most active region—Western Europe.

Today, al Qaeda’s chief Ayman Zawahiri announced that the terror group was “branching out” by establishing a presence in India, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In a nearly hourlong video released online, Zawahiri said the new Al Qaeda branch seeks “to raise the flag of jihad, return the Islamic rule and [empower] the sharia of God across the Indian subcontinent.”

The question of whether Zawahiri’s threat is anything more than bluster remains uncertain, but Dan Murphy notes in The Christian Science Monitor that the group has been having trouble recently controlling its subgroups and affiliates.

“It’s highly likely that Zawahiri is fully aware of his perceived weakness. This could have prompted the latest tape. Whether it will do him or his movement much good is another question.

“The idea of a centrally-controlled global network of salafi jihadists has always been a stretch, and even more so today. Yet 13 years after 9/11 much of the mainstream media and analysis in America seem to lack a firm grasp of what Al Qaeda is, who its affiliates are, and how jihadi groups grow,” reports Murphy.

 

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