On November 8th, 2023, Israel announced the thwarting of a potential major terrorist attack in Brazil, implicating Hezbollah as the perpetrator. Two suspects were arrested and charged by Brazilian security services, and Israel was later informed of the plot.

Against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution, the ruling theocratic Mullahs not only emphasized proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen but also saw a potential influence in black market operations in Latin America.

Hezbollah itself is taking the lead in the Islamic Republic’s activities in Latin America, and the group is linked to major terrorist attacks in the region. As Iranian influence grows in the area, the US should become increasingly concerned with Tehran and Hezbollah’s reach.

History of Hezbollah’s Presence in Latin America

Latin America currently has a lukewarm relationship with the United States, especially during the height of the Cold War, where numerous coups and wars took place with CIA hallmarks. Running illicit operations, particularly with drugs to evade sanctions, Iranian proxies, such as Hezbollah, became intertwined in the global south.

Hezbollah’s first known operation in Latin America was the Israeli embassy bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1992. The same year, a bombing struck the Jewish Cultural Center in the Argentinian capital, killing 85 civilians.

In 1994, Chicanas Airlines Flight 00901, which was full of Jewish civilians in Panama, was blown up. The FBI linked the attack directly to Hezbollah.

In 2014, Hezbollah operative Mohammad Hamdar was arrested by Peruvian security services for scouting potential new attacks, and in 2017, the US stopped Samer el Debek, who also planned further attacks in Panama on behalf of the Iranian-backed militia.