facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Panetta warns on Latin America terrorism

April 24, 2012 at 8:04 PM   |   Comments

BRASILIA, Brazil, April 24 (UPI) -- The expansion of terrorism in Latin America is an area of concern for the region and its partners, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in Brazil.

Panetta is meeting with military and political leaders in Brazil, Colombia and Chile to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to help with common defense challenges, a Department of Defense report said.

One of the major challenges, the report indicated, involves potentially violent extremist organizations and Iran's encroachment into Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

"I hope we can work together to make sure that all the steps are taken to ensure that anything that encourages terrorism can be fought against," Panetta said.

Air Force Gen. Douglas M. Fraser, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, last month presented written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee containing a thoroughly detailed account of Hezbollah's activities in the region and Iran, the report said.

Fraser's testimony said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the region six times in as many years, and Iran consistently makes overtures to countries in the region in an attempt to circumvent international sanctions.

"We take Iranian activity in the hemisphere seriously and we monitor its activities closely," Fraser said. "We do see evidence of international terrorist groups benefiting from the intertwined systems of illicit trafficking and money laundering in our AOR [area of responsibility]."

In South America, much of the funding for Hezbollah comes from charitable donations, along with drug trafficking and trading in counterfeit and pirated goods, Fraser said.

"In addition to Hezbollah supporters throughout South America, the region is home to a small number of violent extremist organizations," Fraser said. "We remain vigilant for the potential radicalization of homegrown extremists."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Jessica Arrendale dies shielding daughter from boyfriend with gun Jessica Arrendale dies shielding daughter from boyfriend with gun
2
Reeva Steenkamp's mother: Pistorius should 'pay' Reeva Steenkamp's mother: Pistorius should 'pay'
3
Michael Brown's memorial on fire under mysterious circumstances Michael Brown's memorial on fire under mysterious circumstances
4
Gazprom: Hungary ready for South Stream Gazprom: Hungary ready for South Stream
5
6 LA Sheriff's deputies sentenced to prison for obstructing FBI probe 6 LA Sheriff's deputies sentenced to prison for obstructing FBI probe
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback