Iran is recruiting an “invisible army” of revolutionary sympathizers in Latin America to infiltrate the U.S. through the “soft belly” of the southern border, U.S. officials and national security experts told TheBlaze. And they’re using one website in particular to do it.
Iranian President Hassan Rowhani, middle, attends a session of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran on Sept. 3, 2013. Iran’s Assembly of Experts is a body that selects the supreme leader and supervises his activities. (Getty Images)
The Iranian regime’s conversion efforts are becoming increasingly aggressive, especially over the Internet, with the goal of conducting operations against United States interests in the Western Hemisphere, according to U.S. government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the nature of their work in the region.
Islamoriente.com, which focuses on religion and politics, is one of Iran’s main recruitment and conversion websites for Latin America on the Internet, TheBlaze has learned. The site, which launched in 2008, includes links to Iranian television for Spanish speakers, anti-American news stories, essays on reasons to convert to Islam, chat rooms and a personal message from the Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran.
Even as President Barack Obama waits for Congress to make a decision on Syria, the Iranian website wastes no time and has no shortage of stories ridiculing the U.S. administration for threatening to strike President Bashar Assad’s regime, a staunch ally of Iran.
Jim Phillips, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and expert in Iranian affairs, said Iran’s focus on Hispanic converts is a new evolution in Iranian operations in Latin America. Phillips said Khamanei’s message titled “The Importance of Work and the Nobility of the Worker” in Islam, is significant because the Ayatollah is “normally a background player in these sorts of efforts and doesn’t usually play such a public role.”
“Historically, Iran has tried to recruit agents from the Lebanese Shi’ite diaspora in South America and West Africa,” Phillips said. ”This emphasis on Hispanic converts is something new.”
In the past, “U.S. intelligence focused on Iran’s relationship with Hezbollah but now with the people they are recruiting it could be much more difficult to gauge who is infiltrating the U.S.,” Phillips added.
” All wars are vicious, but the civil war in Syria seems every day to set new standards for brutality. As the fighting rages in its third year, increasing numbers of atrocities are committed by soldiers and fighters from forces loyal to the regime of President Bashar Assad, as well as armed rebels and Islamic militants from the numerous, loosely aligned groups opposing Assad. The violence is frequently sectarian in nature, with fighters claiming they act in defense of their faith, be it Sunni, Alawite, Shiite or any of the other sects that contribute to Syria’s religious landscape.
The perpetrators of atrocities themselves often use digital cameras or smartphones to photograph or film their acts of torture and murder, uploading the images to the Internet. These images and videos are used for propaganda, and their…
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