Undercover Hezbollah operations in South America were uncovered in an extensive investigation by the United States and Colombia. According to Colombian media sources, Hezbollah has a presence in the country under cover of a legitimate organization called the “External Security Organization” (ESO), which is essentially Unit 910, Hezbollah’s foreign operations arm responsible for the 2012 terrorist attack in Burgas, Bulgaria and the attacks in Argentina during the 1990’s.
The Spanish language news website Infobae reported that Hezbollah’s presence and activities were confirmed by the Colombian police in a three year investigation carried out jointly with the US Drug Enforcement Agency.
The investigation allowed for the identification of commercial entities and platforms of which Hezbollah made use to cover-up its activities including drug dealing, selling and exporting stolen vehicles and money laundering; alongside the recruitment of locals for future terror related activities.
Colombian police worked with the local Interpol office to identify the Shiite terrorist organization’s methods of operations. Firstly, the organization works to ensure the safety and secrecy of its members by settling its Middle Eastern agents in cities such as Cartagena, Barranqilla and Maicao using forged identification documents.
Next, the organization established commercial entities dealing in textiles (including smuggling garments from Panama to Lebanon), the export of coal to Lebanon and the sale of meat.
According to Colombian intelligence sources, 80% of the income from these activities are channeled through European banks on their way to Beirut and are used to support the terror organization. The remaining 20% are re-invested in Colombian and Panamanian enterprises.
Orders issued by Iran
Recruitment and indoctrination takes place on many levels. First, supporters are recruited at local mosques and community centers and they are sent to Lebanon with “scholarships.” There are 40,000 Muslims in Colombia, five mosques and 10 Islamic cultural centers.