The recent Israeli Security Agency (ISA) operation, which resulted in the arrest of four Arab Israelis suspected of engaging in narco-terrorism and smuggling Iranian-made explosive devices and weaponry from Hezbollah, underscores the close nexus between criminal activity, mainly organized crime, and terrorism. The arrests and confiscation of high-explosive devices align with Iran's overarching national security strategy, exploiting Hezbollah's regional and international narco-terrorism activities and other proxies to undermine its main adversaries - namely the United States and Israel - through subversive and terrorist actions.
The Israeli Security Agency (ISA) has disclosed that four Arab Israelis were apprehended last month under suspicion of engaging in narco-terrorism (the use of drug trafficking to fund terrorist activities and the use of drug smuggling routes to smuggle arms) by smuggling Iranian-made high-explosive devices and advanced weaponry from Hezbollah. This group is believed to be part of a more extensive smuggling network responsible for distributing illegal arms and potentially narcotics received from Hezbollah.
The investigation initiated in July and carried out jointly by the police, Israel's Defense Intelligence, and the ISA revealed Hezbollah's attempt to recruit smugglers within Israel to disseminate illicit weapons to various parties, including criminal elements. The ISA is investigating additional individuals suspected of involvement in this smuggling ring.
Security forces successfully confiscated two Iranian-manufactured explosive devices and another high-explosive device during the operation. One of the detainees confessed to planning the use of one of these devices for criminal activities. An image released by the ISA resembled a Claymore mine - a directional anti-personnel mine designed to expel a lethal blast of ball bearings or shrapnel in a specific direction when detonated). The explosive devices were seized during a joint operation conducted by the Israel Police Counterterrorism Unit and the Border Police at a residence in Lod (a "mixed city" where Jewish and Arab communities coexist). The image of the explosive device and the arrested individuals were shared across Iran and Hezbollah's social media platforms.
The arrests underscore Hezbollah and Iran's persistent endeavors to manipulate Arab citizens of Israel, involving and recruiting them for conducting terror activities and intelligence gathering by supplying them with weapons to be used in their criminal pursuits. Iran's strategy involves fomenting violence within Arab Israeli communities, leading to an alarming increase in Arab-on-Arab homicides and using them to transfer weapons to Palestinians in the West Bank.
Furthermore, Hezbollah's involvement in global narco-terrorism is a critical component of its financing operations, with a significant focus on activities in South America. Hezbollah is involved in the production and trafficking of illegal drugs. Hezbollah operates in the "Golden Triangle" region, which encompasses parts of Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, where it facilitates the production and distribution of drugs such as cannabis, Captagon, and potentially other narcotics. The group has production facilities in different regions, including the southern Beirut suburb of Dahieh, Lebanon's eastern Baalbek area, and Aleppo in Syria.
This illicit drug production provides Hezbollah with financial resources and demonstrates its ability to exploit diverse geographic locations for operational and economic gain. Iran is also involved in the drug trade. Iran is a significant transit point for drugs from Afghanistan to Europe. Iran has reportedly cultivated ties with drug cartels in Latin America, particularly in countries like Venezuela and Colombia. These connections enable Iran to facilitate the trafficking of drugs, primarily cocaine, as a source of revenue to support its militant proxies, including Hezbollah.
In 2011, the United States alleged that Iran was involved in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. The case outlined by U.S. officials pointed to a connection between narco-terrorism and the assassination attempt. The U.S. Department of Justice accused the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) of being behind the plot. The plan allegedly involved hiring Zetas Mexican drug cartel members to carry out a bombing attack against the Saudi ambassador while he was in Washington, D.C.
The recent arrests of four Arab Israelis suspected of engaging in narco-terrorism and smuggling Iranian-made explosive devices, weaponry, and drugs from Hezbollah highlight the intertwining of criminal activity and terrorism within Arab Israeli communities. This incident exemplifies Iran's Hezbollah's attempts to exploit Arab Israelis for criminal and terror purposes, aligning with Iran's broader strategy of using narco-terrorism to fund its proxies and terrorist activity against its adversaries, mainly Israel and the United States worldwide.