Amid news reports that Hezbollah and other hostile actors are exploiting political uncertainty in Venezuela, U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ted Cruz of Texas are raising concerns that adversaries, including known and suspected terrorists, may be able to threaten American security via the southern border. The senators are seeking a briefing from top national security and diplomatic officials regarding steps being taken to prevent threats from around the world from entering the United States.
In a letter to the secretaries of the Departments of State and Homeland Security as well as to the Acting Secretary of Defense and the Director of the FBI, Grassley and Cruz note that the Obama administration was aware of the potential for cross border threats in 2016. According to news reports, it also knew of Hezbollah’s strategic networks in Central America. In the letter, the senators are seeking a briefing on what steps the government is taking to deter known or suspected terrorists and others who pose a security threat to the homeland.
“The prospect of such bad actors in our hemisphere raises significant concerns about the safety and well-being of the American people. Should the U.S. government not address these concerns head-on, it would be an absolute abdication of our primary responsibility to provide for the common defense,” the senators wrote.
The senators are also seeking information on how the government is combatting narcoterrorism, trafficking and money laundering by Hezbollah. Further, they are requesting details on counterintelligence efforts in the region to identify, deter and mitigate operations to impede democracy in the region.