|« Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (left) and Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s close ties cause worry for U.S.
(Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)
Along-standing fear of a linkup between drug traffickers and radical Islamists in Iran-influenced Latin America is closer to being realized, according to a statement by a top U.S. military official and reported by Agence France Presse. Adm. James Stavridis, commander of U.S. Southern Command, made the remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on January 16.
“I fear greatly that the connectivity between narco-terrorism and Islamic radical terrorism could be disastrous in this region,” Stavridis said.
“What I worry about in this region with outside actors coming into it is the potential for those streams to cross, if you will, for the fuel of narco-terrorism to become engaged in Islamic radicalism here in the Americas, here in our home.”
Stavridis referred to a photograph of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
“This gentleman is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, a state that sponsors terrorism,” he said pointing to the Iranian leader.
“He is a very dangerous man and he is in this area of the world,” the admiral said, adding that Iran had already opened 10 embassies in Latin America.
“President Ahmadinejad says he wants to have an embassy in every country in this region,” he added.
Ahmadinejad has met several times with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has steered his nation away from democracy and called United States President George W. Bush a “devil” at the United Nations.
“Today in Latin America there is a competitive environment for us politically,” Stavridis said, alluding to leftist Venezuela’s growing influence across the region.
“The United States needs to be a good competitor in this marketplace. We need to show why our ideas are better, are sensible (and) will produce good results,” he said, referring to “capitalism, free-trade agreements, human rights, democracy and liberty.”
Stavridis’s comments followed President George W. Bush’s warning in Abu Dhabi on Sunday that “Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere.”
Islamist extremism developing ties with a region that has easy access to America’s southern border poses a strategic threat to the nation, particularly when backed by the world’s primary terrorist-sponsoring nation. For more on this subject, read “How Terrorists Could Get Into the U.S. ”