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Friday, March 14, 2008       Free Headline Alerts

Billions for terror flowing from South America's notorious 'tri-border' area

The commander of the U.S. Southern Command said last week that there are serious and continuing concerns about illicit funding being generated for Hizbullah terrorist activity from South America.

Adm. James Stavridis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “members, facilitators and sympathizers of Islamic terrorist organizations are indeed present in our hemisphere.”

“I continue to be concerned about the tri-border area,” Stavridis said of the area between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. “It is, in my view, principally Hizbullah activity. There is clearly fund-raising, money laundering, drug trafficking. And certainly a portion of the funds that are raised in that are making their way back to the Middle East.”

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The Tri-Border Area (TBA), is bounded by Puerto Iguazu, Argentina; Ciudad del Este, Paraguay; and Foz do Iguacu, Brazil.

A U.S. Army report said the region “is an ideal breeding ground for terrorist groups.”

“The TBA is a lawless area of illicit activities that generate billions of dollars annually in money laundering, arms and drug trafficking, counterfeiting, document falsification, and piracy,” the report said.

“The TBA offers terrorists potential financing; access to illegal weapons and advanced technologies; easy movement and concealment; and a sympathetic population from which to recruit new members and spread global messages. While the TBA is not currently the center of gravity in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), it has an important place in the strategy for combating terrorism.”

Stavridis said the U.S. military is working with nations in the region to deal with the terrorist threat, including military contacts and law enforcement efforts, including drug enforcement and countering funding raising.

The U.S. Southern Command is responsible for security in Latin America.



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