Clare Lopez, a former CIA officer, is a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on Middle East, national defense, WMD, and counter terrorism issues. On Wednesday, May 20, 2020, she held a Zoom meeting on specific areas of expertise, including Islam and Iran. Ms. Lopez writes for The United West organization.
During the span of two hours, Ms. Lopez covered two topics of great importance. The first topic, Bully of Asia, dealt with China and the coronavirus.
This article deals with the second part of Lopez's lecture based on an abstract of a 45-page paper written by Ioan Pop and Mitchell D. Silber, published online May 13, 2020: Iran and Hezbollah's Pre-Operational Modus Operandi in the West. The authors served in the NYPD Intelligence Division from 2005 - 2015.
Ms. Lopez informed, as background to Pop's and Silber's article, that Iran remains responsible for what its militias did and what they also did under Iran's control.
As to what happened in Iraq, Iran is using the IRGC's Qods Force division to back, create, fund and train Iranian "proxies." When Quds Force came into Iraq and started to attack bases that killed U.S. and other coalition troops, that was the trigger point for President Trump to go after the IRGC-Quds Force leader, Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani was killed in a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.
So it was that Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for "forceful revenge" to avenge Soleimani's death. Likewise, Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hizballah, called on Hizballah operatives globally to carry out "the appropriate punishment," stating that this "be the responsibility and task of all resistance fighters worldwide."
Although the revenge might not be immediate, expressed with certainty was that Hizballah operatives are now here on American soil planning a revenge for Soleimani's death.
And why should Iran be concerned about its operatives placed here in this nation? Even though Iran was responsible for 9/11, no one was ever held accountable. Iran feels impervious to anything happening should operatives be uncovered, even though there are many reports of arrests and even prosecutions in Court here in the U.S. of Iranian and Hizballah operative who were tried, have been found guilty, and are now serving prison time.
As to preoperational modus operandi of Iran and Hizballah, Lopez sets forth the seven modus of operandi stated in the article by Pop and Silber, based on their analysis of Iran and Hizballah's past operations, foiled plots, the recent U.S. arrests of Hizballah's operatives, and their personal experience leading Iran and Hizballah intelligence investigations for NYPD.
Each mode of operation is briefly discussed by Clare Lopez. Learn much more about each of the seven modes by reading the entire 45-page abstract written by Ioan Pop and Mitchell D. Silber.
1. Intelligence gathering and surveillance activities: Iran and Hizballah have a sustained commitment to undertake precise intelligence gathering and surveillance activities on targets that could support long-term attack planning. Said Lopez, "They are even better than we are in intelligence gathering.”
U.S. surveillance is being done at Jewish facilities and also of Israeli diplomats and their families at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., as well consulates around the country.
Iranian gathering and surveillance activities have extended beyond New York City. In November of 2019, two men, one with dual U.S. Iranian citizen, and the other an Iranian citizen residing in CA, pleaded guilty to acting as illegal agents of the government of Iran on criminal charges stemming from monitoring two Jewish facilities in Chicago.
2. Plausible diplomatic, business, education and other covers to conceal operational activities: Iran/HZB operatives use the "cover" of local immigrant populations, businesses and Islamic Centers/Mosques, where they can blend in with with those who are not committed to working against this nation.
In New York City an Iranian was arrested for having effectively been a front for the government of Iran through the Alavi Foundation, a nonprofit ostensibly devoted to charity works and promoting Persian and Islamic culture, but which belongs to the IRGC.
3. Infiltration of Iranian dissident groups: Iranian security agencies use a wide range of tactics to safeguard the regime. MEK (People's Mujahedin of Iran) and NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran) were cited as two dissident group that the Iranian regime and its intelligence services are trying to get inside of (infiltrate) to cause mayhem.
4. Logistical planning for possible future attacks: There is a unit within Hizballah known as 910 that is doing long range planning for future attacks. As was discovered in the UK, Thailand, and Cypress, stockpiles of huge quantities of aluminum nitrate (component of building bombs) were being assembled into what looked like first aid ice packs. Those responsible were caught and went on trial. So far no one has been caught in this nation doing the same.
5. Preparing "human target packages" to enable assassinating dissidents and adversaries: Target packages consist of a file of information that enable an intelligence of military unit to find, fix, track, and neutralize a threat. It might include information collected about an individual, or it could include "capture/kill operations.
In this nation, two Iranian-linked individuals operating in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., focused on human targeting packages that could be used to identify and locate individuals related to MEK and their supporters, even if they were members of Congress.
There is no specific information that the Iranians were targeting any members of Congress, but a number of them certainly are open, known supporters of the MEK/NCRI.
6. Counter-intelligence tradecraft, and operational security: Those involved are not uneducated people. They are university educated with advanced degrees. A Lebanese with dark hair and eyes might pass for a Hispanic. A stop in Venezuela (home to many Hizballah) would enable him to learn Spanish. [As to why Hizballah is the preferred spelling rather than Hezbollah, Ms. Lopez explained: Hizballah is two words combined. "Hizb" in Arabic means "Party" and "Allah", of course, is God, so their name spelled this way is obviously "Party of God." The meaning is lost if the Hizballah way of spelling is used.]
Unit 910 members use strict communications protocol such as coded e-mails and the use of flash/USB drives, one of which was concealed in a toy on a key chain.
7. Recruiting operatives with dual nationalities and Western passports from the Shia diaspora: Iran and Hizballah have a history of recruiting operatives globally, preferably those who have Western passports. The arrests of the reported Hizballah Unit 910 operatives, Ali Kourani, Samer el-Debek, and Alexei Saab in the U.S., reinforces the idea that Hizballah focuses its external recruitment on individuals residing in the West with dual nationalities and access to Western passports.
Marriage to a U.S. citizen is also used to gain access to a green card and eventually a U.S. passport.
Question and Answers posed by participants to Ms. Lopez
Question 1: How likely is it that political candidates are being recruited by operatives?
Response: Ms. Lopez doesn't believe elected officials are being recruited by operatives, but they could be backed, supported, and funded to win public office by nefarious elements.
Question 2: What makes Hizballah so good at intelligence gathering?
Response: Said Lopez, Hizballah was trained by the Iranians who were, in turn, trained by the Russians (KGB), as was Hizballah. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, this nation took its eye off the ball. We had won the war. Now it was on to the "peace dividend." Funds were cut for the intelligence community. President Bill Clinton cut funds for the military.
Then came 9/11 which this nation was totally unprepared for. G.W. Bush did as good a job as he possibly could have done, but he was clueless about Islam, Iran, Hizballah, or jihad, which 9/11 was the result of. Bush's entire administration was penetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood, which remain deeply embedded in our government today at all levels.
Question 3: Tell us more about the Great Purge?
Response: Ms. Lopez spoke of this taking place during the middle of 2000 under the G.W. Bush administration. Bush was co-opted by the Muslim Brotherhood, and he didn't even know it. It was during this time when the vocabulary began to change. Because of the Brotherhood, the words Islam and the Brotherhood were words no longer acceptable to use. Instead, the term to be used was Countering Violent Extremism, which came to mean those who defended the 2nd Amendment, protesters at abortion clinics, and returning veterans from battle.
Quite telling is that at this year's National Day of Prayer held in the White House Rose Garden on May 7, U.S. Army Islamic Chaplain Lt. Col. Ibraheem Raheem prayed, https://www.deseret.com/faith/2020/5/7/21251082/trump-prayer-mormon-catholic-muslim-evangelical-jews-white-house as did First Lady Melania Trump, for the pandemic’s victims and their families, as well as those fighting for their lives now.
In the past always invited was Imam Mohammad Majid, formerly President of ISNA (Islamic Society of North America), an MB front group. He remains the Imam of the ADAMS Center (All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center), hub of MB operations in the WDC metro area. He would recite the Fatihah,1st Sura of the Qur'an, that contains the offensive verse asking Allah to condemn Christians & Jews, but spoken in Arabic, nobody knew what he was saying.
As to the Islam doctrine vs. the U.S. Constitution, Sharia is not compatible with American law.
Ms. Lopez apologized for the riveting and disturbing nature of her lecture, further acknowledging it was better knowing what was going on than not.