A line in the sand: Assessing dangerous threats to our nation's borders
Testimony of Ambassador Roger F. Noriega

Article Highlights

  • There is little recognition of the fact that much of the cocaine from South America is supported by Venezuela.

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  • Observers have failed to follow evidence to Hezbollah elements that operate throughout Latin America from Venezuela.

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  • Focusing on improving security at our borders is important, but far from sufficient.

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A line in the sand: Assessing dangerous threats to our nation's borders

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Mr. Chairman, I applaud you and other members of the Subcommittee for your continued efforts to study and expose the evolving threats to the U.S. homeland that are developing beyond our borders. The Subcommittee's published reports on this subject contain a sobering and insightful appraisal of the menacing cooperation between narcotraffickers and the Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah in our hemisphere.

As a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, I head a project to examine and expose the dangerous alliance between the Venezuelan regime of Hugo Chávez and Iran. To date, we have conducted dozens of interviews with experts from throughout the world and with eyewitnesses on the ground in the region regarding Hezbollah's offensive in the Americas. We also have obtained reams of official Venezuelan and Iranian documents, only a few of which we have published to support our conclusions. In addition, I have worked for most of my professional life to understand and obstruct the illicit production and distribution of illegal narcotics and associated crimes of deadly drug syndicates.

While much attention has been paid to the bloody confrontation between authorities in Mexico and several Central American countries with the transnational narcotrafficking organizations, there is virtually no recognition of the simple fact that, for the last 6-7 years, much of the cocaine from South America makes its way northward with the material support of the government of Venezuela.

Also, although some have taken note of anecdotal evidence about the troubling links between narcotraffickers and global terrorist group Hezbollah, most observers have failed to follow that evidence to Iranian-backed Hezbollah elements that operate throughout Latin America, right up to our southwest border, from a safe haven in Venezuela.

Some may assess this narcoterrorist phenomenon as a marriage of convenience between different criminal elements or just another modus operandi of powerful international drug syndicates. In my view, such interpretations overlook a growing body of evidence that this narcoterrorist alliance in our neighborhood is aided and abetted by Venezuela and Iran – two regimes bound together by a relentless hostility against U.S. security and interests. In other words, it is not just criminal activity – it is asymmetrical warfare.

Focusing on improving security at our borders is important, but far from sufficient. This narcoterrorism will exact an increasingly terrible price from our neighbors and our nation until our national security establishment recognizes that the mayhem on our border is being sponsored by hostile states. Once our policymakers face this fact, they can begin to fashion a more effective response.

 

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