Early this year the Argentine prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, disclosed a 500-page document of evidence of Iran’s terrorist networks in Latin America. It included a number of countries, among which were Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Uruguay.
Iran’s activities in some of these countries are carried out with the direct or indirect support from the local government.

For example, in my last article, I described the role played by the Surinamese president in the trafficking of drugs, as well as the strengthening of relations with Iran. Suriname received US $1.2 million to purchase tractors, and direct flights between the two countries were established.  A question I asked in that article was:
Could these flights possibly be used to transport weapons or other materials, such as uranium, to Iran?

We do not have an answer to this question.
Yet, if we look at Guyana, a non-member partner of the -led Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA), we can see that Abdul Kadir, the Islamic terrorist who participated in a foiled plan to attack the JFK International Airport in New York, was a disciple of Moshen Rabanni.  Kadir was responsible for the Iranian infiltration in Guyana and Rabanni is a well-known Iranian former attaché in Argentina who is believed to be one of the masterminds of the terrorist attack on AMIA in Buenos Aires in 1994.

Early in 2010, Guyana signed an agreement with Iran, by which Iran would map Guyana’s mineral resources including uranium.  Iran is already doing this in , and the suspicion is that these countries could provide uranium to Iran that eventually will help it build a nuclear bomb.  It appears that, having been put under pressure, Guyana is no longer using Iran to perform this function.  In its stead, Canada is now doing so. However, that deal indicates Iran’s ability to infiltrate these vulnerable countries that are, geographically, in close proximity to the United States.

We can confirm this by looking at Dominica, a Caribbean island that belongs to the Bolivarian Alliance.
In July 2008, Dominica signed an agreement with Iran that enabled citizens of Iran, the Middle East and Central Asia to obtain a second citizenship and a passport. Since Dominica belongs to the Commonwealth, a Dominican passport allows easy entrance into Great Britain.  It has also been reported that Iranians obtained Dominican passports under new names, by providing false birth certificates.

The islands of St. Kitts and Nevis have also sold passports to the Iranians for a number of years.

Then, we have the Caribbean countries of St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, two ALBA allies that produce unreliable travel documents where anybody may obtain a new passport and easily change their names. It is reasonable to assume that Iranians could have taken advantage of this vulnerability.
St. Vincent forged an alliance with Iran, who sent the island US $7 million for social projects.

Another ALBA member, Antigua and Barbuda, has also had a very mysterious connection to Iran. In November of 2009, the Israeli navy intercepted a ship in the Mediterranean Sea, carrying 300 tons of weapons smuggled from Iran to Lebanon destined for Hezbollah.  The ship carried green rockets, mortar shells, and other lethal weapons. The vessel carried the flag of Antigua and Barbuda.

By the same token, in April 2012, Turkey stopped another Antigua-flagged vessel in the Eastern Mediterranean carrying Iranian missiles destined for Syria.

Of course, Antigua and Barbuda is an ally of Venezuela, and is an ally of Iran.
These small and apparently insignificant countries can serve Iran’s network and dangerous operations very well.

We cannot continue to underestimate Iran’s presence in Latin America. Even less so can we underrate how Iran not only uses its ALBA connections, but also how it takes advantage of the weaknesses of certain countries on the continent.

All those countries that establish relations with an Iran with nuclear ambitions need to be properly sanctioned. We cannot remain passive in light of these events.

Luis Fleischman is the author of the book, “Latin America in the Post-Chavez Era: The Security Threat to the United States” and co-editor of the Americas Report


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Luis Fleischman is also an adjunct professor of Sociology and Political Science at the Florida Atlantic University Honors College and FAU Life Long Learning Society since 2005 where he has taught courses on history and sociology of Democracy, the Middle East, Political Sociology, American Conservative Thought, the Politics and Sociology of Rogue States, and Latin America.

He has also served as Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County. (JCRC) since 2000 and prior to that as director of the JCRC at the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey.

In that capacity, he has worked intensively on issues related to the Middle East and national security serving as a liaison between these organizations and members of Congress, the state legislature, foreign consuls, the media, and the local community at large. Within that role, he has dealt with issues related to the threat of a nuclear Iran, advocated for the security of the State of Israel, sanctions against Iran, and issues related to domestic terrorism.

He is also in charge of developing relations and programs with the community at large including interfaith relations, African-American/Jewish relations, activities, Hispanic/Jewish relations and Muslim/Jewish relations.

Fleischman has also served as an academic advisor on Latin American affairs and hemispheric security to the Menges Hemispheric Security Project at the Washington DC-based Center for Security Policy. Luis also serves in the Security Task Force of the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami.

Fleischman holds a Ph.D. and a M.A degree in Sociology from the New School for Social Research in New York, and has a B.A. degree in Political Science and Labor Studies from Tel Aviv University. He has published journalistic and academic articles and written policy papers on a variety of topics, including the theoretical aspects of civil society and state, Latin American affairs, the Middle East and terrorism. He is currently writing a book on Contemporary Latin America and regional security and he is the co-chair of the Spain and Latin America task force of the group Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. He is currently owrking on a book that deals with national and regional secuirty challenges in Latin America.