Representatives Higgins & Hochul Call for Homeland Security Hearing on Hezbollah’s Influence in North America
Representatives Brian Higgins (NY-27) and Kathy Hochul (NY-26), members of the House Committee on Homeland Security, have asked for a committee hearing to discuss Hezbollah’s influence in North America. The two Members are particularly focused on the militant group’s presence in Toronto, Canada, an area only about 100 miles from the Western New York region that Higgins and Hochul represent.
“The issues brought to light during a recent hearing raises serious concerns about potential threats to America including new evidence of infiltration dangerously close to home,” said Congressman Higgins. “We take this information very seriously and are seeking further investigation into this matter including details related to ongoing measures to protect our community and country.”
“The safety and security of Western New Yorkers is my top priority,” said Congresswoman Hochul. “Having a branch of a known terrorist organization in 15 U.S. cities and in Toronto is a cause of major concern; therefore we are requesting a full briefing from our law enforcement community on the nature of the threat and what is being done to counter it.”
During a recent meeting of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, entitled “Hezbollah in Latin America – Implications for U.S. Homeland Security” held on July 7, 2011, Members were briefed on Hezbollah’s activities beyond Lebanon. Testimony at the hearing included warnings of an increase in Hezbollah operatives in and around the United States. (link to testimony by Higgins and Hochul)
Representatives Higgins and Hochul sent a letter to Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King and Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee Chairman Patrick Meehan requesting a second hearing that would bring federal agency leaders to the table for further discussion. In addition, the Representatives wrote to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Attorney General and FBI Director requesting their participation in the proposed meeting.
Hezbollah is listed on the U.S. State Department’s register of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. According to the State Department, the organization, formed in Lebanon in 1982, has taken credit for and is suspected of being involved in a number of direct attacks against United States’ interests and today maintains several thousand members worldwide.