November 8, 2023 | Flash Brief

Brazilian Authorities Disrupt Hezbollah Plot 

November 8, 2023 | Flash Brief

Brazilian Authorities Disrupt Hezbollah Plot 

Latest Developments 

Two alleged Hezbollah agents were detained by Brazilian authorities on November 8 for plotting to carry out terror attacks against Jewish targets in Brazil. The arrest of the Brazilian-Lebanese dual nationals occurred as part of a joint operation with Israel’s Mossad. Authorities arrested one of the suspects on arrival from Beirut at São Paulo’s international airport, Garulhos, and suspect he was carrying final instructions for the attack. As part of the same investigation, Brazil’s Federal Police also conducted raids on 11 locations in São Paulo, Brasilia, and the northern state of Minas Gerais. 

Expert Analysis 

“Over the past decades, Hezbollah has built a well-oiled, multibillion-dollar money-laundering and drug-trafficking machine in Latin America that cleans organized crime’s ill-gotten gains through multiple waypoints in the Western hemisphere, West Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. The networks involved are part terror and part crime. Hezbollah routinely leverages its operatives positioned overseas both to plot terror operations and engage in financial crime.” — Emanuele Ottolenghi, FDD Senior Fellow 

“Hezbollah has spent decades cultivating an international network of operatives and supporters ready to conduct terror attacks or provide logistical support for them. Currently, Hezbollah is refraining from carrying out a mass-casualty attack against Israel directly, for fear of incurring — and subjecting Lebanon to — the Jewish state’s overwhelming retaliation. But these international networks allow the group, in the absence of that ability, to strike at Israel’s figurative soft underbelly, terrorizing Jews and Israelis globally without paying the price.” — David Daoud, FDD Senior Fellow 

Hezbollah’s Presence in the Tri-Border Area 

Although authorities in Latin America and the United States have occasionally arrested and sanctioned Hezbollah members or foiled their terror plots, Hezbollah’s networks in Latin America remain largely intact and operational. One key hub is the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, where Hezbollah financiers and supporters have historically been involved in money laundering.  

The TBA, with its porous borders, is a perfect hiding place for criminals and terrorists. It affords Hezbollah access to resources and a sympathetic local population, as the area is home to a 30,000-strong Lebanese expatriate community. Those three countries also host a U.S. and Israeli diplomatic presence and large Jewish communities, offering targets for terror attacks. 

Latin American Countries Should Designate Hezbollah 

Only five countries in the region — Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Paraguay — have designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Iran’s regional allies Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela host Hezbollah networks and actively facilitate their regional operations. Brazil, while not openly supporting Hezbollah, has allowed Hezbollah and Iranian fronts to quietly expand with little risk of scrutiny from authorities, especially under the sympathetic government of Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva. In Chile, home to a strong and radicalized Palestinian diaspora, Iranian agents and Hezbollah networks have infiltrated government, media, and academia, in addition to running illicit financial networks

Unless Latin American governments adopt robust countermeasures, including sanctioning Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, Hezbollah’s terrorism threat will continue to loom large in the region. 

“Hezbollah’s Terror Threat in Latin America,” by Emanuele Ottolenghi 

How Hezbollah Collaborates with Latin American Drug Cartels,” by Emanuele Ottolenghi 

“Hezbollah in Latin America is a threat the US cannot ignore,” by Emanuele Ottolenghi 


Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran in Latin America Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Lebanon