Terrorism in Latin America (Part I): The Infiltration of Islamic Extremists

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The threat from Islamic extremists in Latin America remains an overlooked aspect of U.S. national security strategy and should be a new priority for the Trump administration, according to a recent study by National Center for Policy Analysis Senior Fellow Dr. David Grantham.

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Iran’s influence in Latin America and non-state extremists’ ability to cross national and international borders demand new national security strategies in the region.

“Islamic extremists have used Latin America as a base of political and financial support since the late 1940s,” says Grantham, “but today, international Islamists employ much more sophisticated fundraising and recruitment operations that reach far and wide.”

Dr. Grantham points out that:

  • The Muslim Brotherhood has carved out a beachhead in Guyana.
  • Iran now has 80 Hezbollah Islamist operatives in at least 12 Latin American nations
  • Trinidad and Tobago has become a breeding ground for ISIS — 70 of the 100 Latin Americans known to have joined ISIS originated from the small country.

In this background study, Dr. Grantham argues that perspectives on the threat need to change. First, Iran’s threat to the United States comes from a retaliatory attack from Latin America, rather than a pre-emptive or first strike attack. Second, the mobility of terrorists throughout Latin America poses a serious problem.

“Iran’s influence in Latin America and non-state extremists’ ability to cross national and international borders demand new national security strategies in the region,” Dr. Grantham says, “This begins with U.S. support to allied governments that include improved intelligence capabilities and targeted financial interdiction strategies.”

Terrorism in Latin America: http://www.ncpa.org/pub/terrorism-in-latin-america-part-one-the-infiltration-of-islamic-extremists

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