When investigative reporters get onto a hot story ahead of the pack, they normally do everything they can to maintain their exclusive hold. So San Antonio Express reporter Todd Bensman's alarm-ringing article about Iranian infiltration of Nicaragua, published by Pajamas Media, merits attention due to its rare cry for more reporters to join him.
Bensman went to the Central American country in late 2007 and found that Daniel Ortega's return to power created an opportunity the Iranians leapt at. To his dismay, however, no one picked up the story:
"What I found should have been enough to pique the imagination of other reporters, more investigation, or even just some shallow coverage. But to date, there has been nothing more about Iran in Nicaragua, while there's still plenty about Iran in distant Venezuela. The Iranians must be thrilled to operate in such a blackout."
When he was in Nicaragua nearly 18 months ago, Bensman saw plenty of signs the Iranians were moving in and taking advantage, but he couldn't get any of them to talk. What he didn't see were signs of progress on a series of promised economic development projects at Nicaraguan ports Iran pledged to finance. The prospect of an expanding Iranian operation so close to the U.S. – to "sow mayhem … from the diplomatic cover provided by embassies" - justifies his concern. He reminds readers of the 1994 Hezbollah attack on an Argentinean Jewish center:
"I also discovered that suspected Iranian Revolutionary Guard operatives had been moving in and out of the country in unusual ways that assured secrecy. For instance, I was given ministry of migration documents that show a senior Nicaraguan minister had allowed 21 Iranian men to enter without passport processing. This was exactly the kind of activity that preceded the Argentina bombings in 1992 and 1994. It's the same kind of secretive movement going on in and out of Venezuela that gives current and former American counterterrorism officials — and Jewish communities in the region — the cold sweats."
Nicaragua has little to offer Iran in resources or exports, Bensman writes, concluding there are few good reasons for the expanding Iranian presence. This is worth reading in its entirety. Click here to see Bensman's column and here to see his original report from Nicaragua.