An Israeli media outlet reported that Hezbollah has set up a training base in Nicaragua with the support of Iran, a widely unsubstantiated claim that continued the trend of over-hyping the threat of Islamic militant actions in Latin America.
According to Israel Radio, some 30 members of the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah are training on a base in northern Nicaragua near the Honduras border. The group is reported to be receiving supplies from Iran with the view to preparing for retaliatory attacks should the US attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.
In repsonse to the accusation that Nicaragua is hosting the group, army spokesperson Orlando Palacios refused to comment, telling The Nicaragua Dispatch, “I don’t know the articles and I can’t opine on something I haven’t read. Neither the army nor I have any opinion about this at this time.”
InSight Crime Analysis
The veracity of these reports is highly suspect. Though Israeli media appear to have picked up the story, the only discernible source at the moment appears to be Israel Radio who claim to have been given the information by intelligence sources, reported Naharnet. Furthermore, as The Nicaragua Dispatch notes, such a report contradicts intelligence from the US Southern Command, with their spokesperson stating, “We are not aware of any military presence. This is the first time I have heard of any Iranian presence in Nicaragua of this nature.”
Most of the hype concerning a Hezbollah presence in Latin America appears to be highly politicized, with many of the supposed threats failing to match the reality of the group’s operations in the region. The group’s largest support base is believed to be in the tri-border area of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina where they receive financial support from local gangs there thanks to the notable Lebanese population. This aid has never progressed to a wider involvement in organized crime in Americas, however, nor does it appear that the group poses an immediate danger in the region. As US Vice President Joe Biden stated in March, “People talk about Hezbollah. They talk about Iranian support for weapons and the rest. I guarantee you, Iran will not be able to pose a hemispheric threat to the US.”