In early September, when Israel announced the opening of a new, larger embassy in Paraguay it was also revealed that Israel had been helping Paraguay with border security and counter-terrorism problems in the areas where Islamic terrorists are known to be active. There are significant Arab immigrant communities in many Latin American countries and in some cases that has led to Islamic terrorist violence to nearby Jewish communities.
The most troublesome of these poorly policed frontier areas is the notorious "three borders" region. This is where the borders of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina meet. Since the 1980s Islamic terrorists have been able to raise a lot of cash from Latin American Arabs, often through bogus "charities." But the extent to which they have been able to recruit active supporters is harder to gauge and has apparently been less successful. In some countries, such as Bolivia and Paraguay, recruiting efforts have been reported to the police, who took action. That’s where Israel proved helpful in Paraguay.
Another factor hampering the Islamic radicals down there was that many of the Arab immigrants to Latin America were Christians, and those who were Moslems often became secularized, in an environment where they found very few co-religionists. But many of the Arabs in the three borders region are Shia Arabs from Lebanon and that provided Hezbollah Islamic terrorists an opportunity to establish a presence and help Iran plan attacks against Israeli targets in South America. This included any local Jews. This effort was largely in the shadows until the early 1990s, when there were two attacks against Jewish targets followed over the next decade or so by the deaths of all the Iranians and South Americans believed responsible for these attacks.
Those two (1992 and 1994) terrorist attacks were aimed at Jews in Argentina. The two bombings killed 114 and wounded over 200. Most of the victims were not Jews but nearly all were Argentinians. Israel often quietly goes after those behind attacks like this and kills them. There is rarely any official admission of this activity or the results. But the terrorists do take notice. The Israeli overseas intel and special operations organization (Mossad) has handled assignments like this for decades and in 2013 it was confirmed that this was another Mossad operation, as was a similar one in the wake of the attack on Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics in Germany.
Meanwhile Iran continues to reward the survivors of the terrorists who planned and carried out those 1992 and 1994 attacks. Some of those involved have survived so far often because they became senior officials in the Iranian government. For example in 2009 Iran announced it selected a wanted (by Interpol) terrorist, Ahmad Vahidi, to be Defense Minister. Vahidi is considered a criminal by Argentina for involvement in a 1994 attack on a Jewish community center. Vahidi is believed to have helped carry out other terror attacks as well. This brought him much recognition and many rewards in Iran. Vahidi served as Defense Minister until mid-2013. Vahidi has long known that the Israelis are gunning for him and takes precautions.
Iran and its professional terrorists are still active in South America. Iran was close with leftist Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez (from 2000 until he died in 2013) and his successor. This led to hundreds of Iranian intelligence and special warfare (terrorism) operatives being dispatched to South America. The Argentine truck bomb attack in 1994 killed 85 Argentineans and this horrified people throughout the region. The backlash caused Iranian diplomats and terrorism operatives to run for cover. In 2010, with Venezuela as a safe and hospitable base, Iranian death squads were again up and running in South America. Apparently Iran is not encouraging attacks, in order to maintain its espionage networks but wants to be ready just in case.
Most of the Iranian foreign terrorist operations are handled by the Quds Force, which is an intelligence and commando operation that supports Islamic terrorism overseas. Quds operatives are still dedicated to Shia Islam becoming the dominant religion on the planet. Thus Al Quds can be found operating nearly everywhere, from South America to wherever Iran has a diplomatic presence. Quds Force operatives have been found carrying out assassinations in the West and organizing terror attacks all over the world (like the bombing of a Jewish social center in Argentina).
Quds Force still works with the Lebanese Shia Hezbollah for its South American operations. Iran helped create Hezbollah in the 1980s and has sustained it ever since. Hezbollah has long been involved in the drug business in South America. That gives these Iran backed Islamic terrorists access to the smuggling routes that Mexican gangs use to smuggle drugs and people into the United States. Hezbollah has long been active in narcotics and people smuggling in South America's tri-border (Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil) region. For over a century this area has been a hotbed of illicit activity, and too many politicians and police commanders are on the take from gangsters to change this.
Thus South America, in theory, makes an excellent refuge and base for Islamic terrorists. Particularly worrisome was the cooperation between leftist rebel movements there, and Islamic terrorist groups. But the leftist rebels in South America have been on the skids for over a decade and in no position to help terrorists. The Venezuelan refuge is in danger (from socialism, not Mossad) but the tri-border area remains active.