U.S. diplomatic cables released Tuesday by Wikileaks and picked up by the news investigative organization CIPERChile outline American diplomats' suspicions that Hizballah has raised funds in Chile and established contacts with Islamic fundamentalists there.
News reports cite a February 27, 2006 cable written by then-U.S. Ambassador to Chile Craig Kelly outlining U.S. concerns. According to Kelly, a "radical fundamentalist presence" has been established in the northern city of Iquique "and to a lesser degree in Santiago. These fundamentalists who are known to be associated with Hezbollah are increasing their presence and activity in Chile."
"There is substantial information that indicates that significant fund-raising for Hezbollah is taking place in Chile within the Muslim community," Kelly wrote.
The ambassador explained the level of cooperation between the U.S. Embassy and Chilean intelligence and police. U.S. law-enforcement forces have trained Chilean police and "Chilean [intelligence] services have been supportive in multiple bi-national intelligence operations," he wrote.
Kelly expressed concern about the existence of terrorist fundraising in Santiago. "The Santiago Islamic Center certainly provides financial support to unknown terrorists. Sporadic reporting suggests that these groups have capability to plan operations should they choose to do so," Kelly wrote. The cables also include a conversation between Kelly and an Israeli diplomat who claimed his government was monitoring the movements of Iranian diplomats with the knowledge of the Chilean government.
An October 2006 cable sent by the U.S. Embassy in Santiago reported that Guillermo Villalobos, director of Chile's National Intelligence Agency, identified Islamic terrorism as the principle terrorist threat in the world. Villalobos identified the link between Iquique and the Tri-Border area (where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet) as the Chilean government's main concern in regard to terrorist finance.
Much of the concern stems from Tehran's alliance with Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez and the fact that Tehran's terrorist proxy Hizballah has carried out two of the most horrific terrorist attacks in the Western Hemisphere in modern times: the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina and the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center there. More than 120 people were killed and more than 500 were injured in the attacks.