Police in Peru say that a Lebanese national who was captured has confessed to being a member of the Islamist militant group Hezbollah, although there are still plenty of unanswered questions about the case.
Muhammad Ghaleb Hamdar was detained October 28 in a middle-class district of Lima, after police found the remains of explosive material in his garbage, reported EFE.
The news agency reported that Peruvian police began monitoring Hamdar following a request from Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.
According to Peru 21, Hamdar entered Peru in early July from São Paulo, Brazil, using a passport from Sierra Leone.
Following Hamdar’s confession, the head of Peru’s police said that the investigation into Hamdar’s case “had concluded,” but did not specify what charges he faced.
Peruvian TV station Willax TV had previously reported that Hamdar was a “bodybuilder” who spent a lot of time at the local gym.
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Peruvian officials have not yet made public many details about this investigation, such as information on what Hamdar was doing in Peru or what kind of role he may have had in Hezbollah. Given Peru’s history of dealing with terrorist attacks committed by guerrilla groups like the Shining Path — including a 1992 bombing in Lima that killed 25 people and wounded more than 150 — the country’s security authorities are understandably sensitive when it comes to dealing with other alleged terrorist plots.
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Still, there are many issues left unresolved. For instance, it may be significant that Hamdar entered Peru via Brazil: earlier this week, federal police documents unveiled by Brazilian newspaper O Globo detailed ties between Hezbollah and Brazilian prison gang the First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC).
There also appear to have been few previous reports of Hezbollah presence or activity in Andean nations like Peru. Much prior scrutiny involving the Islamist group’s operations in Latin America has focused on the Triple Frontier where Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil meet.
The US Treasury Department has blacklisted individuals based in this area, who provided logistical and financial support to Hezbollah. The Treasury Department has also blacklisted men based in Venezuela and Colombia for running a money laundering network linked to the Islamist group.
But in Peru, no similar sanctions have occurred.