The most recent detection of Hizbullah infiltration dates to 2006 when FBI Director Robert Mueller stated in House testimony that “Hizbullah operatives were assisting others with some association with Hizbullah in coming to the United States.”
“That was an organization that we dismantled and identified those persons who had been smuggled in,” Mueller said, adding that they had come across the Mexican border.
The influx of Hizbullah, a Lebanese Shi'ite terror group that is considered a major terrorist surrogate for Iran, is believed linked to increased international pressure on Iran for its nuclear program.
U.S. officials fear that if the U.S. or Israel take military or covert action against Iran’s nuclear program preemptively, that Iran will unleash clandestine Hizbullah operatives in the United States to conduct major terrorist attacks.
The office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, a part of the director of national intelligence, launched a counterintelligence initiative several years ago to try and identify U.S.-based Hizbullah networks but the effort has been largely unsuccessful, U.S. officials said.
Michael Braun, former assistant administrator and chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) told The Washington Times last year that Hizbullah is using the same southern narcotics trafficking routes as Mexican drug networks.
Hizbullah relies on "the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels," Braun said.
Concerns about Hizbullah in the United States followed a recent Pentagon report on Iran that stated that “we assess with high confidence that over the last three decades Iran has methodically cultivated a network of sponsored terrorist surrogates capable of conducting effective, plausibly deniable attacks against Israel and the Untied States.”
Through Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force, Iran has maintained terrorist surrogate capabilities around the world including the Middle East and North Africa, the report said, noting that “recent years have witnessed an increased presence in Latin America, particularly Venezuela.”
“If U.S. involvement in conflicts in these regions deepens, contact with the IRGC-QF, directly or through extremist groups it supports, will be more frequent and consequential,” the report said.