Is Venezuela harboring Hezbollah? American conservatives warn of militant Islam’s spread

Editor’s note: This is part of a series on the alleged spread of Islamic terror cells in America’s “backyard.” See part one here.

LIMA, Peru — Is Venezuela providing operational support to Islamic terrorists?

That deadly serious question is increasingly troubling foreign policy and security experts as the South American country and Iran — which funds Hezbollah — move ever closer.

Despite deep cultural differences, a shared antagonism toward the US has drawn Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, into an unlikely political friendship in recent years.

“Iran is an example of struggle, resistance, dignity, revolution, strong faith,” Chavez saidduring one early visit to Tehran.

“We are two powerful countries. Iran is a power and Venezuela is becoming one. We want to create a bipolar world. We don’t want a single power [i.e., the US].”

Beyond the rhetoric lies a strategic alliance that has seen Caracas, along with Damascus and Havana, vote against United Nations sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, and increasing Iranian investment in the Venezuelan economy, now worth more than $5 billion.

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