Blackburn Targets Terror Group Operations in Latin America
May 18, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced bipartisan legislation with co-lead Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) to require detailed reporting of known operatives, recruiting methods, and resources of the terrorist group Hezbollah in Latin America. It will also authorize sanctions against Hezbollah actors in the region and strengthen the anti-money laundering work of the Department of Homeland Security’s Trade Transparency Units.
“Iran’s back-door attempts to fund Hezbollah’s growth through money laundering, illegal weapon trading, and drug smuggling are a direct affront to human rights and international sovereignty,” said Senator Blackburn. “However, the work of this terrorist organization in Latin America is a blind spot when it comes to data and reporting. By requiring increased reporting and establishing data-sharing partnerships, this legislation will expose and cut off Hezbollah’s sources of financing and power in the region.”
“It’s clear that Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terrorist organization that has killed hundreds of Americans, remains a growing danger to the United States and to countries around the globe,” said Senator Rosen. “While much of the United States’ focus has been on Hezbollah’s efforts in the Middle East and Europe, Hezbollah is also expanding its networks throughout Latin America. I’m proud to help lead the introduction of this important bipartisan legislation to shed light on the extent of Hezbollah’s operations in the region and provide authorities in Latin America and in the U.S. with the tools necessary to crack down on the group’s terrorist agenda. America and our allies will be safer when Hezbollah is held accountable for its illicit activities.”
"Hezbollah's nefarious presence and activity in our Hemisphere, dating back to the 1992 and 1994 terrorist attacks in Argentina, remain a permanent threat which need to be effectively countered,” said Dina Siegel Vann, Director of the Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs American Jewish Committee (AJC). “A robust sanctions regime will send a message that there is zero tolerance for Hezbollah's mischief in the Americas.”
“Hezbollah is among the most sophisticated and dangerous terrorist organizations in the world. We must do more to disrupt their activities, and this legislation constitutes an important step in that direction. We urge Congress to advance this bill without delay,” said CUFI Action Fund Chairwoman Sandra Parker.
In Addition To New Reporting Standards, Senator Blackburn’s Legislation Also:
- Allows for identification of government officials and political figures known to be operating on behalf of the terrorist organization;
- Enables the President to impose sanctions on identified senior political figures and foreign persons engaging in support of Hezbollah in certain countries in Latin America; and
- Strengthens cooperative partnerships such as the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)’s Trade Transparency Units (TTUs) by improving data sharing and operations.
Hezbollah has served as a proxy group for the Iranian regime in Latin America, and their expansion is directly responsible for the loss of 100 lives throughout the region. The Department of Treasury estimates that Iran provides Hezbollah with more than $700 million each year, with many of those funds coming from the illicit finance, drug smuggling, money laundering, and weapons transfers within South America.