Venezuela Emerging as Potential Hub of Terrorism

(U.S. News) - Linda Robinson Venezuela is emerging as a potential hub of terrorism in the Western Hemisphere, providing assistance to Islamic radicals from the Middle East and other terrorists, say senior U.S. military and intelligence officials. Middle Eastern terrorist groups are operating support cells in Venezuela and thousands of Venezuelan identity documents are being distributed to foreigners from Middle Eastern nations, including Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, and Lebanon. Latin America's Arab communities are also becoming centers for terrorist sympathizers. A Venezuelan analyst who recently visited Margarita Island, a free zone on the north coast of Venezuela run largely by Arab merchants from Lebanon and Iran, described the Venezuelan-Arab Friendship Association as a "fortress" with armed guards outside. Support "cells" for the groups Hamas, Hizballah, and Islamiyya al Gammat are active on Margarita, according to Gen. James Hill, the head of the U.S. Southern Command.

2003-10-01 00:00:00

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