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Venezuela Tightens Ties With Iran, Hizbullah

Hizbullah has strengthened its presence in Venezuela, following tightening of Caracas-Teheran ties. Kidnappings of Jews are feared.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 8/28/2008, 1:00 PM

International terrorism experts fear that Venezuela will soon become a base for terrorist attack initiatives, in light of the tightening of ties between the South American dictatorship and both Iran and Hizbullah.

A top expert in the war against terrorism, speaking with the Los Angeles Times, said that agents of Hizbullah and the Revolutionary Guard of Iran have formed a special force designed to kidnap Jewish businessmen in South America and smuggle them to Lebanon.  He said that Venezuelan employees of the international airport in Caracas have already been recruited to provide information about Jewish tourists who arrive in the country.

The Lebanese terrorist organization Hizbullah, which enjoys close relations with Venezuela, is reportedly building terror strongholds in the country. 

Israeli citizens have been warned in general of the danger of kidnapping by Hizbullah terrorists, who claim to still be seeking revenge for the assassination of their #2 leader, Imad Mughniyeh, six months ago. Israel has denied any involvement in the killing, and has evidence that Syria was responsible.

Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, a rabid anti-American, has forged close diplomatic and commercial ties with Iran.  He has visited there several times, and his country is the site of some joint Iranian-Venezuelan business ventures, including a car factory. 

The United States has long accused Iran of involvement in the 1992 bombing of Israel's embassy in Venezuela, in which 29 people were killed.

Hizbullah-Venezuela Ties
Two Venezuelans stand accused of aiding Hizbullah in raising funds, and their American assets have been frozen.  In addition, a travel agent in Caracas was found to have aided Hizbullah in procuring airline tickets and making plans for terror attacks and kidnappings.