Hezbollah is setting up a base of operations in Cuba in order to extend its ability to reach Israeli targets in Latin America, ostensibly to avenge the death of terrorist mastermind Imad Mugniyah.
Americas Forum Mugniyah, a Lebanese-born Hezbollah terrorist leader, was killed in February 2008 by a car bomb. Though it has not been proven who was responsible, it has been reported that several Arab states aided the Israeli Mossad in carrying out the killing. Mugniyah was believed to have been involved in planning the 1983 Beirut bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks, as well as two attacks on a Jewish synagogue and a community center in Argentina in 1992 and 1994.
The U.S. State Department said upon his death: “The world is a better place without this man in it. He was a coldblooded killer, a mass murderer and a terrorist responsible for countless innocent lives lost. One way or another he was brought to justice.”
Hezbollah has sought new alliances in Latin America since attention was brought to the terrorist group’s redoubt in the Tri-border area at the intersection of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, as well as numerous reports of training camps in Venezuela.
According to the Tel Aviv daily Yedioth Ahronoth, three members of Hezbollah have already arrived in Cuba to set up the cell, which will allegedly “include 23 operatives, hand-picked by Talal Hamia, a senior member tasked with heading the covert operation.”
It has long been speculated that there was a strong connection between the Castro regime and Hezbollah terrorists. In July of 2008, Samir Qantar, a Lebanese terrorist that was serving a life sentence for murdering aJewish family, a crime that included smashing the skull of a 4-year-old female child with a rifle butt, made his first private visit after being freed in a prisoner swap to the Cuban Embassy in Beirut.
Cuba has been a center of terrorist operations and training since shortly after Fidel Castro usurped the sitting government in 1959. Reuters reported as early as May 30, 1978, that Palestinian terrorists of the PLO had been trained in Cuba, and on September 13, 1978, the Egyptian daily Ahar Sa’ah reported that as many as 500 Palestinians were on their way to Cuba to receive terrorist training.
The Subcommittee on Counterterrorism in the U.S. House of Representatives held hearings in July, entitled “Hezbollah in Latin America – Implications for U.S. Homeland Security,” which detailed the terror group’s ties to left-wing regimes in the region. And the U.S. Military’s Southern Command reported recently on the terror group’s activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island, where Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists are alleged to have held planning meetings, as well as a number of money laundering operations.