Hezbollah link to Zapatistas? Not!

Israeli news portal YNet on Dec. 29 ran an incredibly irresponsible story entitled "Hezbollah's cocaine Jihad," the introdek reading: "Faced with dwindling Iranian funding, Shiite terror group partners with Mexican drug cartels; uses millions of dollars in drug money to support weapon acquisition habit." Now, this is a quesitonable claim at best, but before the story even gets to the rather sketchy evidence for this assertion it spends a full six paragraphs talking about Chiapas and the Zapatista rebels—complete with a prominent photo of masked Zapatistas marching with their red-and-black flag! The message sent to the uninitiated is that the Zapatistas are mixed up with both drug cartels and Hezbollah. What is the basis for this Hez-bollocks? There is none. The article notes that an Islamic micro-sect called the Murabitun has been converting Indians in Chiapas in recent years, but aside from the fact that they are both in Chiapas, there is no link between the Murabitun and the Zapatistas, and no link between either and the drug cartels. Furthermore, the Murabitun are Sunni not Shi'ite, and based in Spain not Lebanon—so not even remotely linked to Hezbollah.

Then there's some pretty blatantly Islamophobic demographic paranoia:

Official data suggests that Mexico is home to some 4,000 Muslims — a fraction in a country whose population numbers 115 million. Theoretically, this is a negligible number, but it is enough to cause concern in the United States — and Israel should be concerned as well.

Finally, no less than 10 paragraphs in, we get to a relevant fact: the US indictment issued two years ago alleging that a Lebanese trafficker was linked to both the Zetas and Hezbollah. Then we quickly jump back to the realm of speculation—particularly the fantasies that Muslim terrorists could use cross-border narco-tunnels to infiltrate the United States:

The US' concern about the smuggling tunnels increased exponentially in 2009, when a Department of Homeland Security wiretap derived a recording of Professor Abdallah Nafisi, a Kuwaiti clergyman and a known al-Qaeda recruiter, boasting about the ease by which nonconventional warfare and weapons of mass destruction can be smuggled into the US, through the Mexican drug tunnels. 

"Ten pounds of anthrax in a medium-size suitcase, carried by a Jihad warrior through the tunnels can kill 300,000 Americans in one hour," he said. "It will make 9/11 look like peanuts. There's no need for plans… Just one courageous man, to spread this confetti on the White House lawn. Then we will really be able to celebrate."

Even if this putative conversation took place, note that we aren't talking about Hezbollah anymore. Hezbollah and al-Qaeda are bitter enemies, and the former has never been credibly accused of plotting to attack the US "homeland." This is one to file under "Don't believe the hype."

The Israeli press has sensationalized several such specious claims about Hezbollah in Mexico in recent years, while in Washington, House Homeland Security Committee hearings have been held on the probably non-existent threat. A US case asserting that Iran's Quds Force contracted Zetas to kill the Saudi ambassador in DC appears to be entirely the creation of a DEA informant. Reports linking Hezbollah to the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires seem more plausible—but that isn't necessarily saying very much, and Argentina is a long way from the Rio Grande…