Updated 06:54 AM EDT, Wed, Apr 21, 2021

Islamic Radicals May Seek to Infiltrate the U.S. through Latin America, Says General John Kelly

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United States General John F. Kelly believes that Islamic extremists could use Latin America as a springboard for terrorists to attack the U.S.

Following the horrifying attacks in France by Islamic terrorists, five Syrians heading to the U.S. were arrested in Honduras claiming that they are students, Miami Herald reported. At that moment, many thought that Kelly's statement has a ring of truth in it.

In his March testimony before Congress, the head of the U.S. Southern Command cautioned lawmakers that Islamic extremists are "radicalizing converts and other Muslims in Latin America, and that the Islamic State could exploit trafficking organizations in the region to infiltrate the United States," Miami Herald's Jerry Haar wrote. There has been an increasing number of Muslims from Mexico changing their Islamic surnames to Hispanic-sounding ones to aid them in crossing the border.

After the multiple bombings and shootings in France, Haar said in his Miami Herald report that he asked several U.S. intelligence experts about the possibility of an ISIS attack on the U.S. originating from Latin America. Those he interviewed said that the chance is "highly likely."

Islamic terrorism in Latin America is not a far-fetched idea, the news outlet added. In 1992, Islamic Jihad's bombing attack on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina killed 29 people and injured 260. In 1994, Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, bombed a Jewish community center called AMIA in Buenos Aires, resulting to the deaths of over 100 people.

Hugo Chávez's rise to power in 1999 pushed terrorist activity from Argentina to his Venezuela homeland, Miami Herald further reported. Chávez and Iran's then president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, immediately formed a close bond between their countries and teamed up against the U.S.

According to PanAm Post, 28 countries of the European Union collectively supported France's request to activate the community clause for unanimous defense in accordance with article 51 of the United Nations. This institutes that if a member state has been a victim of violence in its territory, the others must offer help and support it with all accessible means.

Granted, Latin American nations are far from the events currently unfolding in Europe and the Middle East, but this doesn't mean that the region is exempted from the effects of Islamic terrorism, PanAm Post wrote. Venezuela, for example, is an oil-rich western country with a significant geostrategic location. This could capture the interest of terrorists and establish Venezuela as a place to assault the U.S. and other countries.

Just recently, Trinidad and Tobago's government has toughened its security measures with the help of the U.S. This comes after the country's administration found out that numerous Trinidadians had joined ISIS, PanAm Post added.

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