Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

In Congress: Cammett Calls Hezbollah Assault from Latin America 'Implausible'

July 21, 2011

Melani Cammett, director of Brown’s Middle East Studies Program based at the Watson Institute, testified earlier this month before Congress at the “Hezbollah in Latin America – Implications for US Homeland Security” hearing held by the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

According to Cammett, “the notion that Hezbollah intends to launch terrorist operations against US interests … seems implausible at this juncture” and does not currently figure into the party’s domestic or regional priorities. The party’s recent increased investment in domestic Lebanese politics limit its inclination to engage in violence. As “a mainstream actor in Lebanese politics,” Cammett said, the Hezbollah party has become “far more willing to make compromises than in the past.”

Cammett addressed the security implications of Hezbollah’s presence in the region, concluding that the group is highly unlikely to enter into a confrontation with the US. Cammett emphasized the “largely speculative” nature of available information on the Hezbollah party’s budget structure, and declined to “confirm or deny the … extent of Hezbollah’s activities” in Latin America with regards to illicit fundraising operations.

Hezbollah is a Shia Muslim political party based in Lebanon that arose out of “the historical disenfranchisement of the Shia population in Lebanon, the Iranian Revolution, and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982,” Cammett said in her testimony. The group’s alleged recruitment and illicit fundraising activities in the Tri-Border Area shared by Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay have spurred recent concern that “the organization will use the region as a base for targeting US interests.” Cammett’s testimony states that these fears are founded largely on speculative information and are “not based on conclusive evidence.”

By Watson Institute Student Rapporteur Anna Andreeva '12