New Addition to Terror Threat List

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Al-Qaeda remains at the top of the federal government's "Terrorist Threat Estimate" list. But the Lebanese-based-Iranian-backed Hezbollah has also emerged as a potential threat to the US. WNYC's Bob Hennelly has this report.

REPORTER: According to US intelligence, Hezboullah first took on American targets in 1983. It bombed the US Embassy and the marine barracks in Lebanon, leaving 241 Marine peacekeepers dead. At an NYPD intelligence briefing, Detective Ira Weiss says more recently, the US has been seen as a source of revenue as opposed to a physical target.

WEISS: In North Carolina, there was a case where all sorts of cigarettes were being purchased there and on Indian reservations and being brought up to Michigan and being sold in millions of dollars in profit that was going to Hezboullah.

REPORTER: But Weiss says, according to the department's assessment, illegal drug sales provide Hezboullah with a major source of revenue.

WEISS: There are large Viagra counterfeit scams taken down. Narcotics in the numbers of close to $1 billion - opium, hashish and marijuana are grown in the Bekaa Valley and this money supports Hezboullah.

REPORTER: Reportedly in the 1990's, Hezboullah executed 2 bombings in Argentina against the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish Community Center. Both the NYPD and federal intelligence officials say the likelihood that Hezboullah will target US soil is linked the status of US-Iranian relations. For WNYC, I'm Bob Hennelly.

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