Stop Hezbollah in Latin America, Senator Cruz says

Texas Senator Ted Cruz discussed the threat at an event marking the 25th anniversary of the bombing of the Jewish center in Argentina that claimed 85 lives and injured hundreds.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

At a Capitol Hill event on Thursday commemorating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Argentina, Senator Ted Cruz warned that the Hezbollah terrorist organization responsible for the attack, which killed 85 people and wounded 200, is still active in Latin America.

“Hezbollah continues to radicalize people in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil through mosques and schools that preach the group’s extremist agenda,” Cruz, the keynote speaker at a policy discussion held by the Center for a Secure Free Society, charged. “It’s time for Latin America to reckon with the significant and the dangerous presence of Hezbollah in the region.”

The pro-Israel Republican senator congratulated Argentina for being the first Latin American country to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization on July 18.

As the Lebanese-based Iranian terror proxy’s growth was “unchecked” in “the tri-border area (TBA) that encompasses the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay,” Cruz urged the other two countries to follow suit.

Hezbollah has long been known to take advantage of the loose border controls in the TBA to move massive amounts of money from one country to another and launder it to help support its terror activities. Last July, with U.S. cooperation, Argentina’s Financial Intelligence Unit froze the assets of 14 Lebanese who live in the TBA and were allegedly part of the multi-million-dollar scheme.

It was all part of the world’s duty to keep the Islamic Republic in check, Cruz said.

He then spoke of the bill he had introduced in the Senate last month, called the Countering Hezbollah in Lebanon’s Military Act of 2019.

Part of the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1701 that ended the Second Lebanon War with Israel states that the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) is the only army that should exist in the country and therefore must disarm Hezbollah.

The proposed law says that unless the president can ascertain that the LAF is doing what is necessary to end Hezbollah’s and Iran’s influence over the army, U.S. military aid to Beirut would be cut by 20 percent.

Both Israeli analysts and politicians have said that it is currently impossible to differentiate between the Lebanese state and Hezbollah.

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Last year, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett threatened that in any future military conflict, “the State of Israel… will view Lebanon as responsible for any action from within its territory.”