Iran Has Sleeper Cells in the U.S.—And the Media is Fast Asleep

Snapshots Blog April 20, 2018

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Iran Has Sleeper Cells in the U.S.—And the Media is Fast Asleep

{Information is the best defense. – LS}

The Islamic Republic of Iran has proxies serving as “sleeper cells” in the U.S., according to sworn congressional testimony. Yet, U.S. news outlets have largely neglected the story.

Several “intelligence officials and former White House officials confirmed to Congress” on April 17, 2018, that “Iranian agents tied to the terror group Hezbollah have already been discovered in the United States,” according to a Washington Free Beacon article by reporter Adam Kredo (“Iranian-Backed ‘Sleeper Cell’ Militants Hibernating in U.S., Positioned for Attack,” April 17, 2018). The officials told members of Congress that it would be “relatively easy” for Iran to use its proxies to carry out attacks in the U.S.

Hezbollah is a Lebanese-based, Iranian-backed, U.S.-designated terrorist group. Hezbollah calls for Israel’s destruction and has murdered hundreds of Americans, as CAMERA detailed in its 2016 backgrounder on the organization.

Michael Pregent, an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, and a former intelligence adviser to U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, told the U.S. Congress that Hezbollah was “as good or better at explosive devices than ISIS,” “better at assassinations and developing assassination cells” and “better at targeting.” Indeed, as CAMERA has noted, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage referred to Hezbollah as the “A team” of terror groups.

Although the majority of analysts testified that Iranian proxies like Hezbollah pose a threat to the U.S. homeland, many news outlets failed to report their testimony. A Lexis-Nexis search showed that The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, USA Today, among others, did not report the analyst’s remarks. By contrast, The Washington Free Beacon provided a detailed report.

The failure of journalists to cover the story is striking considering the levity of the testimony. Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and author of The Pasdaran: Inside Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, testified:

“A survey of cases prosecuted against Hezbollah operatives in the past two decades shows that the terror group remains a threat to the security of the U.S. homeland and the integrity of its financial system. Iran and Hezbollah sought to carry out high casualty attacks against U.S. targets multiple times. Additionally, they built networks they used to procure weapons, sell drugs, and conduct illicit financial activities inside the United States.”

Ottolenghi noted that U.S. law enforcement arrested two Hezbollah operatives, Samer El Debek and Ali Mohammad Kourani, indicting them in May 2017 for “casing targets for possible future terror attacks.” Both were members of Hezbollah’s External Security Organization (ESO), also known as the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO) or External Security Apparatus (ESA). ESO is tasked with carrying out terrorist attacks and other operations, such as money laundering and drug smuggling, throughout the world.

The two Hezbollah operatives—both naturalized U.S. citizens—underwent military training in Lebanon and procured explosives, as well as night-vision goggles and drone technology. Ottolenghi testified that El Debek scoped out potential targets, including New York’s John F. Kennedy and La Guardia International Airports and the U.S. Armed Forces Career Center in Queens, New York. In 2007, Iranian proxies planned to blow up the fuel tanks at JFK airport, but were thwarted by authorities.

Nader Uskowi, a former policy adviser to the U.S. Central Command, told Congress that Iran is believed to have an auxiliary fighting force of around 200,000 militants spread across the Middle East—many of them battle hardened from fighting in the Syrian Civil War. “It doesn’t take many of them to penetrate this country and be a major threat,” Uskowi said. “They can pose a major threat to our homeland.”

Such a threat warrants coverage from news providers; not silence.

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