There is an Islamist threat in the hemisphere. But the way it has dominated the thinking of many people close to this administration—often with spurious facts and thinly stretched allegations—risks alienating our partners in the hemisphereand making it more difficult to secure the sort of cooperation we need to keep U.S. citizens safe.
Individuals from Caribbean countries have left to join the ISIS jihad in Syria and Iraq, raising the real risk that they will return as rogue terrorists, much like those that have been behind a number of attacks on civilians in Europe. There were the 1992 and 1994 alleged Hezbollah-Iran linked bombings in Argentina against the Israeli embassy and the Israeli Mutual Aid Society (AMIA) that killed 85 people. There was the recent arrest and now sentencing of the Hezbollah member Mohammed Hamdas in Peru for quite likely scoping out the country for potential targets. And there is the troubling series of allegations that the recently promoted Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami had and may maintain ties with Hezbollah.
But more on that later because it deserves a section of its own. First, there are the disproven or inflated claims that risk driving U.S. policy.
There are a number of fantastical claims that have been promoted—and largely discredited—by some of the individuals queuing up to get an appointment in the administration of Donald J. Trump. If this were just a case of partisan rumor mongering to discredit an administration (which, by the way, happens on both sides of the ideological divide) that would be one thing. But given the Islamophobic tendencies of the higher ups, including Michael Flynn and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Mike Pompeo, these allegations—both unfounded and true—risk seriously skewing U.S. policy toward the region and—by militarizing our policy— alienating regional allies and pragmatic partners in ways that will make U.S. citizens less secure.
TO BE CONTINUED ON