Iran TerrorismUS fears 'disastrous' links in Latin America with Islamic...

US fears ‘disastrous’ links in Latin America with Islamic militants

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AFP: A top US military commander said Wednesday he fears a “disastrous” linkup between drug traffickers and radical Islamists in Latin America, where he said Iran wields growing influence. WASHINGTON (AFP) — A top US military commander said Wednesday he fears a “disastrous” linkup between drug traffickers and radical Islamists in Latin America, where he said Iran wields growing influence.

“I fear greatly that the connectivity between narcoterrorism and Islamic radical terrorism could be disastrous in this region,” Admiral James Stavridis, head of the US Southern Command, told a conference on Latin America.

“What I worry about in this region with outside actors coming into it is the potential for those streams to cross, if you will, for the fuel of narcoterrorism to become engaged in Islamic radicalism here in the Americas, here in our home,” he said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington.

Stavridis accompanied his comments with a photograph of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad standing alongside Bolivian President Evo Morales.

“This gentleman is Mahmud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, a state that sponsors terrorism,” he said pointing to the Iranian leader.

“He is a very dangerous man and he is in this area of the world,” the admiral said, adding that Iran had already opened 10 embassies in Latin America.

“President Ahmadinejad says he wants to have an embassy in every country in this region,” he added.

Earlier, Stavridis showed another photograph with Morales standing next to presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Rafael Correa of Ecuador.

At the close of Chavez’ fourth visit to Iran in November, he and Ahmadinejad vowed to stand together in defense of their national interests and ideals.

“Today in Latin America there is a competitive environment for us politically,” Stavridis said, alluding to leftist Venezuela’s growing influence across the region.

“The United States needs to be a good competitor in this marketplace. We need to show why our ideas are better, are sensible (and) will produce good results,” he said, referring to “capitalism, free trade agreements, human rights, democracy and liberty.”

Stavridis’ comments followed President George W. Bush’s warning in Abu Dhabi on Sunday that “Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere.”

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