In a serious threat to Israeli interests abroad and the United States home front, Israeli defense experts say Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hizballah are setting up camp in Venezuela with the full blessing of President Hugo Chavez.
Israel Radio reported on Thursday that Hizballah and Iran's Revolutionary Guard have both deployed operatives to Caracas tasked with recruiting local Venezuelans to help abduct Jewish travelers.
Israeli counter-terrorism experts told The Los Angeles Times that a number of Venezuelans have already been recruited, and that Hizballah and Iran have an operational local network in the South American nation.
Those same experts believe that Venezuela could eventually become a base for Hizballah attacks on US interests in the Western Hemisphere and perhaps on the American homeland itself.
Chavez has made no secret of his support for Hizballah and for the regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Building on that warm relationship, Hizballah is reported to have set up a number of Islamic schools in Venezuela.