Acting on tips from the Jerusalem’s Mossad intelligence agency, Bogata is believed to have thwarted several attacks by the Iran-backed terror group on Israelis in the South American country.
By Erin Viner
“Two months ago, we had to deal with a situation where we had to organize an operation to capture and expel two criminals commissioned by Hezbollah with the intention of committing a criminal act in Colombia,” Defense Minister Diego Molano told the El Tiempo newspaper, declining to reveal further details.
According to the report, Molano’s mention of “two criminals” referred to former members of Venezuela-trained Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) “commissioned by Hezbollah” to kill the Israeli in retaliation the January 2020 killing of Iranian al-Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani.
Citing classified documents and local military intelligence sources, the daily said it had proof that the Mossad provided intel to Colombia of the impending attack on a former Mossad agent who had opened a company selling hi-tech surveillance equipment after an initial stint as a diplomat in Bogata. The Israeli was quickly evacuated to Tel Aviv.
The paper reported that the Lebanon-based Shi’ite group was additionally spying Israeli and American businessmen, possibly including members of a US delegation in the capital.
3 senior Mossad agents were recently in Colombia to investigate whether Hezbollah was using the country as a base to launch terror attacks, prior to previous belief the Iran-backed group had limited its operations there to financial maneuvers, said El Tiempo.
Neighboring Venezuela, which has close ties to Iran, has long been accused of providing a safe haven to Hezbollah and other militias that have attacked Colombia. Venezuelan-Colombian ties are marked by hostility, including closure of their shared border largely since 2015.
There is a “risk with Hezbollah in Venezuela and what its links to drug traffic or terrorist groups on the Venezuelan side (of the border) could generate for national security,” Defense Minister Molano underscored during his interview.
While accompanying Colombian President Duque on an official visit to Israel on 8 November, Molano stated that Bogata and Jerusalem had a “common enemy in Iran and Hezbollah.”
He was later forced to walk back the comments following an uproar from Iran, saying he had spoken “hastily,” after Tehran’s ambassador to Bogata Mohammad Ali Ziaei said “the destruction of this relationship does not profit the people.”
Colombian President Duque later said that his nation “does not use the word ‘enemy’ to designate a country,” although he went on to say “that does not mean that we don’t have divergences on specific questions with Iran.” The two countries have maintained diplomatic relations since 1975.
Colombia, which has a sizable Lebanese community, is now monitoring Hezbollah’s activities on its soil, said El Tiempo.