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The Iranian threat in Latin America

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

The State Department this week is expected to deliver to the House Foreign Affairs Committee a report detailing the extent of Iranian involvement in Latin America. Whether it will be credible remains a large question.

The House ordered the study, and a strategy for countering Iranian influence in the region, based on the premise that Iran represents a “growing hostile presence.” That was based, in part, on information gathered in the 1980s and 1990s showing Iran had built clandestine groups to “sponsor, foster and execute terrorist attacks,” according to an account in The Long War Journal. The 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina that killed 85 is widely believed to have been carried out by the terrorist group Hezbollah, at Iran's behest, The Washington Times reports.

But The Times also reports that the coming study, despite concluding that sympathizers “provide financial and ideological support” to Hezbollah and al-Qaida, suggests there's no evidence of anything deeper. The report concludes that Iran is not supporting active terrorist cells in the Western Hemisphere.

Yet Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., says that just last August, during a visit to Paraguay, local officials told him how “Iranians and their proxy are very active in that region,” a contention watered down by U.S. officials there. Mr. Duncan tells The Times he thinks the Obama administration is downplaying Iran's Latin American influence to “placate” Iran to obtain concession on its nuclear ambitions.

As if wearing blinders to such a threat will make it go away.

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