Hezbollah presence in Venezuela feared
Western anti-terrorism officials are increasingly concerned that Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite Muslim militia that Washington has labeled a terrorist group, is using Venezuela as a base for operations, report Chris Kraul and Sebastian Rotella.
Linked to deadly attacks on Jewish targets in Argentina in the early 1990s, Hezbollah may be taking advantage of Venezuela's ties with Iran, the militia's longtime sponsor, to move "people and things" into the Americas, as one Western government terrorism expert put it.
As part of his anti-American foreign policy, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has established warm diplomatic relations with Iran and has traveled there several times. The Bush administration, Israel and other governments worry that Venezuela is emerging as a base for anti-U.S. militant groups and spy services, including Hezbollah and its Iranian allies.
-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City
Image: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, left, greets his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, last year. Marcelo Garcia / AFP/Getty Images