News

US Lawmaker: Iran May Have Hezbollah Operatives in US

U.S. Republican Congressman Peter King (2006 file photo)
U.S. Republican Congressman Peter King (2006 file photo)
Cindy Saine

The Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Peter King, said the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah may have hundreds of operatives based in the United States, and he said Hezbollah, and not al-Qaida, poses the greatest terrorist threat to Americans.  King held a hearing Wednesday with former government officials testifying. 

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King of New York takes U.S. national security very seriously, and he says the terrorist threat to the United States may be shifting.

"Now, as Iran moves closer to nuclear weapons, and there is increasing concern over war between Iran and Israel, we must also focus on Iran's secret operatives and their number one terrorist proxy force, Hezbollah, which we know is in America," said King.

King said there are 84 Iranian diplomats in New York at the United Nations and in Washington, some of whom he said are likely to be spies.

One of the witnesses to the panel, Mitchell Silber, is the New York Police Department's director of intelligence analysis. He said since 2005, New York law enforcement officers have interviewed at least 13 people with ties to Iran's government who were seen taking pictures of New York City landmarks. Police consider the activity to be pre-operational surveillance.

Another one of the witnesses, former FBI official Chris Swecker, agreed that Hezbollah poses a real threat.

"While al-Qaida has gained attention and notoriety with a series of sensational attacks, Hezbollah has quietly and strategically operated below the radar screen by avoiding overt terrorist attacks in the U.S.," said Swecker. "But, nevertheless, Hezbollah is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. citizens, and including 241 Marines in the bombing of the Beirut barracks" [in 1983].

A former drug enforcement official, Michael Braun, said he fears the confluence of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and global drug cartels. He said Hezbollah and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are working with cartels.

"They are now operating and working in close proximity and collaborating with Mexican and Colombian drug trafficking cartels, not only in the Western Hemisphere, but other locations such as Guinea Bissau in West Africa," Braun said.

Several witnesses said Tehran may now be prepared to carry out proxy attacks on U.S. soil. They cited a failed plot, allegedly by Iran, to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. last October in a Washington restaurant.

The ranking member on the committee, Democrat Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, urged caution, especially addressing those lawmakers who are calling for tougher action on Iran's nuclear program.  He said, "But we should not engage in a public discussion that creates fear and delivers misinformation."

Thompson said if lawmakers have concerns about Iran, they should invite National Intelligence Director James Clapper to testify in front of them in a classified setting.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs