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WASHINGTON, DC — The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), al-Qaeda, and Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy Hezbollah maintain a presence on the Western Hemisphere and present an “immediate threat” to the region, a top U.S. commander told lawmakers on Thursday, warning that the jihadi groups could use drug trafficking routes in Latin America to infiltrate the United States.
Adm. Craig Faller, the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) chief, warned:
Drug - Routes - Techniques - Opportunities - Movement
Established drug trafficking routes and techniques provide opportunities for the illegal movement of other commodities and people—including terrorists. Several years ago, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) dedicated an article to a scenario in which its followers could leverage established trafficking networks to make their way to our border. This remains a potential vulnerability we watch as closely as we can.
Faller’s comments are part of SOUTHCOM’s annual posture statement, presented by the admiral to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday in the form of written testimony. SOUTHCOM is responsible for overseeing U.S. military activities in most of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Statement - Faller - Islamic - Extremist - Groups
In the statement, Faller listed violent Islamic extremist groups as a top “immediate threat” facing his area of responsibility (AOR) along with drug cartels and activities by U.S. rivals like Russia, China, and Iran.
Adm. Faller noted:
Groups - Lebanese - Hezbollah - ISIS - Operate
Groups like Lebanese Hezbollah, ISIS, and al-Qaida operate [in Latin America and the Caribbean] wherever they can garner support, raise funds, and pursue their terrorist agendas. ISIS and other groups have demonstrated their ability to inspire and recruit violent extremists to plan attacks in South America and the Caribbean.
While SOUTHCOM’s posture statement has repeatedly mentioned the ISIS and Hezbollah threat in recent years, the latest report is the first one to note the al-Qaeda menace. U.S. officials and independent experts from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and other organizations have linked al-Qaeda, particularly its North African branch,...
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