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Sens. Cruz, Blackburn, Cramer: Brazil and Paraguay Should Declare Iran-Backed Hezbollah A Terrorist Group

July 19, 2019

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) today sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking him to urge his Brazilian and Paraguayan counterparts to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization in light of the Iran-backed group's past and ongoing terrorism across the region and globally. The letter comes during Secretary Pompeo's visit to Argentina this weekend to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the tragic Hezbollah bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) building, a Jewish community center.

This week, Sen. Cruz introduced a resolution commemorating the attack, as well as continuing to aid the Argentinian government in bringing those responsible to justice. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.) also cosponsored the resolution.

"Today we remember the 85 lives lost and the hundreds of people wounded when Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorists attacked the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) building," Sen. Cruz said. "We must recommit to ensuring that Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies are denied the resources they need to escalate their campaign of global terrorism."

"Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay are in a unique position to take meaningful strides in the fight against terrorism at the hands of Hezbollah," said Senator Blackburn. "We commend Argentina for yesterday becoming the first Latin American nation to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and freeze its assets within the country. We encourage Brazil and Paraguay to follow this lead and acknowledge Hezbollah for what it is - a terrorist organization that is continuing to operate within their borders to finance its international terror operations."

"Brazil and Paraguay should not only label Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, but they should also establish a public registry to track and blacklist terror financing entities. Combatting Hezbollah's presence makes the world safer and allows these nations to look back on this tragedy and realize they are working to ensure a similar attack never happens again," said Senator Cramer.

The full letter can be found here and below:

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

As you travel to Argentina this weekend in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the tragic bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) building, we write to encourage you to remember the past by looking forward to the future.

This violent attack on the AMIA left 85 innocent people dead and 300 wounded. Two years earlier, the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing 29 people. Hezbollah operatives carried out both of these attacks. In the second Western Hemisphere Counterterrorism Ministerial this Friday, July 19, the nations that form the Tri-Border Area (TBA) - Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay - will have a unique opportunity to take meaningful strides in the fight against this type of terrorism.

Lebanese Hezbollah is a key player in the nearly $18 billion-per-year TBA illicit economy, as the area is a significant financial source of the group's terror finance operations. Hezbollah also continues to radicalize individuals in each of the three nations, including through mosques and schools that teach the group's extremist agenda, and a dedicated Al-Akhbar journalist in Brazil.

We commend Argentina's blacklisting of Hezbollah, and acknowledge its important leadership role as the first Latin American country to do so. It is time for the leaders of Brazil and Paraguay to live up to their tough rhetoric and both recognize and denounce Hezbollah's presence within their borders, designating it as the terrorist organization that it is. These nations should also follow Argentina's suit and create a public registry to enable their governments to track and blacklist terror financing entities.

We encourage you to bring this recommendation to the attention of your Brazilian and Paraguayan counterparts while in Buenos Aires this weekend. Only through addressing Hezbollah's presence can these nations look back on the AMIA bombing and trust that a similar attack will never happen again.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Respectfully,

/s/

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