Hezbollah could be one of the first security challenges faced by the new Obama administration. An official government report concludes the Iranian-backed Islamic terror group has been forming sleeper cells throughout the United States that could become operational.
The report estimates Hezbollah could become a much more potent national security threat by 2014. The group was responsible for the 1983 Beirut Marine Barracks bombing, which killed 241 U.S. Marines and 58 French servicemen.
“The Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah does not have a known history of fomenting attacks inside the U.S., but that could change if there is some kind of ‘triggering’ event, the homeland assessment cautions,” the reportsaid.
The report, obtained by the Middle East Newsline and marked “for official use only,” did not define a “triggeringâ€¨event.” Most of the threats cited in the report had been raised by theâ€¨Homeland Security Department.
The 38-page report, titled 2008 Interagency Intelligence Committee on Terrorism, said Hezbollah was being directed by the leadership in Lebanon asâ€¨well as Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
The assessment said theâ€¨Hezbollah network in the United States was engaged in money laundering, drug trafficking, weapons smuggling and extortion.
The terror group has also established fundraising connections with mainstream American Muslim organizations, among the most notable being the case of Abdurahman Alamoudi, the former head of the American Muslim Council. Mr. Alamoudi, prior to his having pleaded guilty in 2004 for having tried to launder Libyan money for various terror groups, actively worked to raise money for Hezbollah among others. He also formerly helped oversee the appointment of Islamic chaplains in the U.S. military.
Hezbollah is one of several terrorist threats to the United Statesâ€¨over the next five years, the report said. The report also cited al-Qaida as aâ€¨leading threat, saying the Islamic network was focusing on striking strategic U.S. facilities.â€¨
“The threat of terrorism and the threat of extremist ideologies has not abated,” former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said prior to leaving office yesterday. “This threat has not evaporated, and we can’t turn the page on it.”
Published: Friday, January 23, 2009