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Growing Hezbollah Presence in Southwest U.S.

BY RYAN MAURO

Terrorism expert Matthew Levitt writes that an increasing number of U.S. prison inmates have tattoos that are pro-Hezbollah or are in Farsi, the language spoken in Iran. The claim is made in Levitt’s new book, Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God.

“Law enforcement officials across the Southwest are reporting a rise in imprisoned gang members with Farsi tattoos” and some express loyalty to Hezbollah.

His book includes an eye-opening quote from another official: “You could almost pick your city and you would probably have a [Hezbollah] presence.”

Hezbollah’s business relationship with Mexican drug cartels is seen as a driving force behind the phenomenon….

….The Wall Street Journal says that Hezbollah is “forging ideologically promiscuous ties with Colombia’s right-wing paramilitary groups and communist guerillas and digging tunnels for drug cartels on the Mexican-American border—the same kinds of tunnel networks it has spent years perfecting along the geographically similar Lebanese-Israeli border.”

Roger Noriega, former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, could not be clearer in his urgent warnings:

“If our government and responsible partners in Latin America fail to act, I believe there will be an attack on U.S. personnel, installations or interests in the Americas as soon as Hezbollah operatives believe that they are capable of such an operation without implicating their Iranian sponsors in the crime.”

Noriega said that in 2011. That was two years ago. The threat has only grown since then.

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