Iran, with the support of terrorist organization Hezbollah and pro-Iranian groups, is seeking to expand its ideological influence in Latin America through the internet, social networks, and meeting places, the study Propaganda, Narratives and Influence in Latin America: Iran, Hezbollah and Al-Tajammu, of Israel’s Reichman University International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) indicates.
“It’s a large-scale psychological warfare using social networks, satellites, and Spanish-language media, which promote [Iranian] interests to attack the West and Latin America,” Jorge Serrano, a member of the team of advisors to the Peruvian Congress Intelligence Commission, told Diálogo on August 10. VEVAK [Iran’s National Ministry of Intelligence and Security] is behind this.”
Latin America is an area in which Iran seeks to expand its influence and scope of action, including narcotrafficking, money laundering, recruitment, proselytizing, and even terrorist attacks, the July 3 report says.
the region also serves as a propaganda apparatus for Iran, Hezbollah, and pro-Iranian organizations with the help of 21st century technology, leveraging a shared narrative with Latin America’srevolutionary left, it adds.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is a [huge] threat […], due to its inflexibility and capacity to perpetrate terrorist acts at the international level,” Serrano said. “With the help of Cuba, Venezuela, and the Sao Paulo Forum, it infiltrates all of Latin America.”
Former Iranian cultural attaché to the Iran Embassy in Buenos Aires Mohsen Rabbani has been promoting pro-Iranian communication channels in Argentina and Chile since the 1990s. The Rabbani Network grew over 30 years, moving to YouTube, websites, and social networks, ICT’s analysis shows.
The AnnurTV platform, with news in Spanish about Islam and the Middle East, is within this network, the report indicates. The platform belongs to the Argentine Islamic Organization. Another channel is Chilean ARABTV, published in Spanish,which describes itself as catering to lovers of Arab traditions.
Hispan TV, a Spanish language news channel of Iran’s state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, targets Latin American audiences, has television and radio broadcasts, web pages, and a variety of social media accounts. Rabbani’s disciples are actively involved in it, the report says.
Rabanni has an international arrest warrant from Interpol against him for his involvement in the 1994 bombing of the Israelite Mutual Association in Argentina, Argentine daily Página12 reported.
Hezbollah translates its sites and communication channels into Spanish. One of them is the television station Al-Manar, which highlights Hezbollah’s activities and those of Bolivia, Cuba, China, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, and Venezuela, the ICT points out.
Al Mayadeen, a pro-Hezbollah media, also operates in Latin America. Its director,Wafica Ibrahim, collaborates with TeleSur, the television channel linked to the Venezuelan dictatorship, and with Cubavisión Internacional and Canal Caribeof the Cuban regime, the study shows.
“These created media, as well as the mosques they open in Latin America from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego, infiltrate groups and cells dedicated to promoting [Iranian] subversive plans in the region,”Serrano said.
The Counter-Terrorism Institute also analyzes two cases to show how Iran, Hezbollah, and pro-Iranian groups operate with each other, and work in cooperation with other protagonists to spread their messages and exploit leftist media.
The first case is the YouTube channel Tertulias en Cuarentena, which was created by two Spanish men who are members of an anti-imperialist organization, the Anti-Imperialist Internationalist Front (FAI). Although created in Spain, the content of their videos has a clear projection toward the Latin American public; they use interviews conducted by Hispan TV, TeleSur, RT, and Al Mayadeen.
The videos present the United States and Israel as the enemy. “It is easier for them [Iran-Hezbollah] to spread messages of hatred and division in the countries where they want to infiltrate,” noted Serrano.
Resumen Latinoamericano (RL), created in Argentina, is the other case the ICTanalyzed. RL claims on its site to be “the other face of news from the Americas and the third world,” and to work against disinformation or “media terrorism.” It uses Al Mayadeen, Hispan TV, Al Manar, and Tertulias en Cuarentena as sources for its articles and attacks those who consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
“They encourage these leftist movements, knowing that Latin America is hard hit by the economic and social crisis,” Serrano said. “They take advantage of this scenario and exacerbate the resentments of the marginalized or displaced population against the system.”
Iran, Hezbollah, and pro-Iranian groups “will continue to create more channels on YouTube and social networks to expand that psychological warfare in Latin America and Spain,” Serrano concluded. “They could carry out terrorist attacks in the following months or years in countries in which they believe there is a scenario of greater vulnerability to execute them.”