Source: Telegraph, UK | April 21, 2010
By Toby Harnden in Washington
Iran has stepped up its military presence in Venezuela as part of a programme to export its “revolutionary principles” to America’s enemies, according to a Pentagon report.
The report on Iran’s military states that paramilitaries from the Quds Force, a special paramilitary unit attached to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, have “an increased presence in Latin America, particularly Venezuela”.
It also alleges that Iran is continuing to supply weapons and explosives to the Taliban to help them kill American and British troops in Afghanistan.
The Quds force [IRGC-QF] “maintains operational capabilities around the world,” the report states that “it is well established in the Middle East and North Africa” but has been extending its reach into Latin America in recent years.
“If US involvement in conflict in these regions deepens, contact with the IRGC-QF, directly or through extremist groups it supports, will be more frequent and consequential”.
The report does not supply details of Iranian activity in Venezuela but represents to the first warning in an official US government report about Iranian paramilitary activities in the Western Hemisphere. President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has been accused of supporting Marxist terrorists in Colombia.
Iranian-backed terrorists have conducted few attacks in the region but American intelligence officials told The Washington Times that Quds Force operatives are developing networks of terrorists in Latin America who could be activated to attack the US if there was a conflict over Iran’s nuclear programme.