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US suspects Hezbollah presence in Chile

February 17, 2011

AFP, 16 Feb 2011: Leaked US embassy cables made public here report US suspicions that Hezbollah raised funds and maintained contacts among the Chile’s small community of Islamic fundamentalists.

An unclassified embassy cable dated February 27, 2006, and released Tuesday by WikiLeaks, said a “radical fundamentalist presence” was centered in the northern city of Iquique, and to a lesser degree in Santiago.

“These fundamentalists who are known to be associated with Hezbollah are increasing their presence and activity in Chile,” the cable said, adding the intelligence on them was insufficient to gauge their true intentions.

“There is substantial information that indicates that significant financial fund-raising for Hezbollah is taking place in northern Chile within the Muslim community,” it said.

However, the cable went on to say that no hostile activity had been detected originating from either the Islamic Center in Santiago, nor from a Sunni mosque.

“The Hezbollah groups in the northern part of Chile are believed to be financial cells,” it said.

Periodically, there also have been unsubstantiated reports of plans for a terrorist attack in the region, “but nothing definite,” the cable said.

The cable, which took the form of a questionnaire on the security environment in Chile, provided no details of the alleged Hezbollah financing.

In another cable dated August 10, 2005, US ambassador Craig Kelly asserted the fundamentalists based in Iquique were known to have connections with Islamic organizations in the so-called Tri-Border Area of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.

He said intelligence information indicated they help collect funds for Islamic charities and possibly other groups, according to the cable, which was made public by the Chilean Center for Journalistic Investigation and Information.

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