According to a report from POLITICO, U.S. intelligence officials have raised alarm about the growing threat posed by Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
These officials suggest that Hezbollah may target American interests in the Middle East and even within the United States.
Backed by Iran, Hezbollah is considered to have a more advanced network and capacity for launching attacks compared to groups like ISIS.
The warnings come at a time of heightened tensions in the region, increasing the risk of assaults on U.S. personnel stationed overseas.
While the immediate concern is that Hezbollah may target U.S. forces in the Middle East, officials have not ruled out the possibility of attacks occurring on American soil.
An anonymous official expressed worry over Hezbollah’s ability to carry out an attack within the U.S., stating that they could leverage their capabilities to position individuals for potential strikes—an alarming prospect. Hezbollah’s extensive international network provides them with means to activate operatives for significant attacks in America.
These concerns about both their capabilities and intentions have been amplified by recent violence in the region.
As of January 9, 2024, there have been reported 127 attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since mid-October 2023, underscoring the urgency of these warnings from intelligence officials.
In November, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, delivered a speech to his supporters in Beirut. He issued a warning about potential strikes on US bases in the region, stating that they would make sure the US pays for its actions.
Nasrallah further emphasized that America holds complete responsibility for the war in Gaza, with Israel merely acting as a tool. He accused the United States of obstructing efforts to condemn Israel at the UN Security Council and preventing a ceasefire in Gaza.
During the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in San Diego, FBI Director Chris Wray expressed grave concern over the growing threat of violent extremism, both domestic and international.
Wray highlighted an alarming increase in reported threats following recent attacks in Israel and urged the public to remain vigilant against “lone actors.”
“In this heightened environment, there’s no question we’re seeing an increase in reported threats, and we’ve got to be on the lookout, especially for lone actors who may take inspiration from recent events to commit violence of their own.”
“So I encourage you to stay vigilant, because as the first line of defense in protecting our communities, you’re often the first to see the signs that someone may be mobilizing to violence. And I’d also ask you to continue sharing any intelligence or observations you may have. And on our end, we’re committed to doing the same, so that together, we can safeguard our communities,” he added.
In an internal memo dated October 20th, the CBP San Diego field office alerted its officers about the potential threat of Jihadists attempting to enter the United States via the southern border.
The recent terrorist attacks in Israel have served as a possible source of inspiration for groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and other Jihadist organizations who may seek to infiltrate our country.
“San Diego Field Office Intelligence Unit assesses that individuals inspired by, or reacting to the current Israel-Hamas conflict may attempt travel to or from the area of hostilities in the Middle East via circuitous transit across the Southwest border,” the memo reads.
“Foreign fighters motivated by ideology or mercenary soldiers of fortune may attempt to obfuscate travel to or from the US to or from countries in the Middle East through Mexico,” the memo adds.
Still, Lebanese Hezbollah has so far avoided major attacks on Israel or U.S. troops since the most recent conflict kicked off. The group, however, does have a history of targeting Americans and U.S. interests overseas.
In 2011 and 2012, two U.S.-based operatives allegedly surveilled American and Israeli targets in Panama as well as in New York City. And the Islamic Jihad Organization, which later became part of Hezbollah, attacked the U.S. embassy in Beirut in 1983, killing 63 people.
The State Department has increased security at the embassy in recent weeks to stave off any attack on diplomats based in Lebanon, one of the officials said.
“The Lebanon front is ready to kick off. And these Iranian militia are pounding the U.S. in eastern Syria and Iraq,” said Andrew Tabler, who served as special envoy for Syria engagement at the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in the Trump administration. “It’s interesting that this is all going on in the background and people are focusing on the Gaza theater, but the war is actually much larger than that.”
In November, Brazil’s Federal Police received assistance from the Mossad, Israel’s secret service, in thwarting planned terrorist attacks by Hezbollah.
Brazilian law enforcement initiated an intelligence operation that resulted in the arrest of two individuals with ties to the terrorist group. Known as “Operation Trapiche,” Brazilian police executed temporary arrest warrants for two suspects and carried out 11 search and seizure operations.
These actions were conducted in Minas Gerais, São Paulo, and the Federal District.
The terrorists involved were associated with Hezbollah and had targeted buildings within the Brazilian Jewish community for their attacks. Investigators have indicated that the suspects may face charges under anti-terrorism laws, which carry penalties of up to 15 years and 6 months imprisonment.
The Mossad collaborated with Brazil’s Federal Police intelligence in dismantling this terrorist network that posed a threat to Jews.
The office of Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has confirmed the involvement of Israel’s secret service in assisting Brazil’s defense efforts.