Global Affairs

Iran Sending Latin American Students to Indoctrination Camps as Part of Regional Penetration Campaign

An expose published over the weekend by the Washington Post highlights the role that all-expense-paid trips to Iranian indoctrination camps are playing in the Islamic republic’s ongoing efforts to penetrate the Americas.

Tehran has sought for decades to bolster its presence in Latin America. Iranian strategists reportedly view the region as receptive to the Islamic republic’s ideology of radical Islam and anti-Americanism.

Over the last eight years Iran has doubled its embassies, built 17 cultural centers, and distributed a score of Shiite mosques throughout Central and South America. It has exploited Latin America’s large Lebanese Shiite diaspora, using it as a cover to plant Hezbollah operatives across the region who among other things have become major players in the drug trade in the virtually lawless “Triple Frontier” area straddling Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.

The Post’s Joby Warrick interviewed a Mexican student, identified only as “Carlos,” who recalled meeting an Iranian diplomat at a party. After casually mentioning he was interested in learning more about Islam, the diplomat offered to fly him to Iran. “Carlos” described an educational camp he was taken to in in the Shiite holy city of Qom:

“There were 25 or 30 of us in my class, all from Latin America,” recalled the student, who was just 19 when he arrived at the small institute that styled itself an Iranian madrassa for Hispanics. “I met Colombians, Venezuelans, multiple Argentines.” Many were new Muslim converts, he said, and all were subject to an immersion course, in perfect Spanish, in what he described as “anti-Americanism and Islam.”…

Carlos… was struck by the effectiveness of a program that isolated a small group of foreign students and subjected them to weeks of theological and political indoctrination. He recalled how some classmates who had seemed merely curious about Iran and its religion ended their study as committed disciples.

“Some of them,” he said, “I’d call crazy-obsessed.”

A report prepared for the U.S. Congress estimated that, over its five years of operation, the program has processed more than 1,000 people from Latin America had been brought to Iran. Iran runs a similar program for Europeans, though its scope is less clear.

A 500 page indictment by an Argentinian prosecutor recently detailed a vast Iranian network of “local clandestine intelligence stations designed to sponsor, foster and execute terrorist attacks” in the region. It focused in particular on the activities of Mohsen Rabbani, a former Iranian cultural attache in Buenos Aires who has been linked among other things to the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center that killed 85 people. Iran blasted the prosecutor, who is Jewish, as a “Zionist.”

Warrick describes Rabbani – who was also the force  behind Iran’s Spanish-language HispanTV – as a “tireless proponent of exporting Iran’s Islamic revolution to the Spanish-speaking world.” Rabbani boasted of having pushed the region away from U.S. influent and “toward Iran’s vision of revolutionary Islam.”

[Photo: PressTVGlobalNews / YouTube]