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Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ROYCE. I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

I would like to begin by thanking Jeff Duncan and his staff, as well, for their good work on this legislation. But I would remind the Members, in terms of Iranian activity in this hemisphere, we think what first comes to mind is the attack in the 1990s in Argentina. But more recently, Hezbollah has penetrated our borders. One example I would give to you is Mahmoud Kourani, trained by Iranian intelligence. He paid a bribe in order to get to Mexico from Beirut. Once in Mexico, he paid a second bribe, this time to a cartel group, in order to have himself inserted into a special compartment in the back of a car.

The reason Mahmoud Kourani is important is because it was his brother who was in charge of security in Israel during the Hezbollah war. I was there at the time. I saw those missiles that were ordered launched by Hezbollah into the town of Haifa. Haifa was under attack. There were some 600 casualties in that hospital that were a direct result of those Iranian and Syrian missiles that were being fired on the hospital--frankly, one of the targets--but fired on that town, fired on the residential sections of that city.

So the brother was caught coming into the United States. Actually, he was caught near Detroit. He's now serving time. There were some 50 other Hezbollah operatives who were also discovered here. When you go through the background of his training in terror in terms of weapons and in terms of the capabilities that Iranian intelligence gave him, you begin to realize why our intelligence officials are so concerned about Iran's attempts to penetrate here.

Look at Iran's attempt last year to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador on U.S. soil using a Mexican drug cartel. That's the latest example of the threat. I've had many ambassadors tell me that they dined in that same restaurant. You saw the commentary that they were willing to accept their deaths as collateral damage to the bombing in order to kill the Saudi Ambassador.

These are the designs of Hezbollah. This is the problem with Iran. Many believe that countries close to Iran and that they're courting in this hemisphere, they're doing it because they're trying to help them beat back these sanctions--the sanctions bill which Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and I are going to be meeting on this afternoon. This is an attempt of Iran to extend their authority and try to convince those would-be allies that they should help them avoid these sanctions.

I'll just quote our DNI, Director of National Intelligence. He told us:

The dangerous activities of Iran and Hezbollah so near our borders demand a whole-of-government strategy, beginning with an interagency review to understand and assess the transnational multifaceted nature of this problem and to mobilize friendly governments to respond.

We're concerned that the administration is not doing that. That's why in this legislation we are pushing for this action. This bill requires that review; it requires that strategy. It will kick the bureaucracy into gear, and it enjoys strong bipartisan support. I urge its passage.

This is an issue that the House Foreign Affairs Committee looks forward to continuing our oversight and work on in the 113th Congress. I really commend the chairwoman and Mr. Duncan for their work.


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