Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann on Monday floated the idea that a terrorist group based in Lebanon might be installing missiles in Cuba.
The Minnesota congresswoman said there was a possibility that Cuba was working with Hezbollah, and warned that the group could be installing missile or weapon caches on the island just off the shore of Florida. She made the point in arguing against softening trade and travel embargoes to Cuba.
“Why would you normalize trading with a country that sponsors terror?,” Bachmann said at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “There’s reports that have come out that Cuba has been working with another terrorist organization called Hezbollah. And Hezbollah is potentially looking at wanting to be part of missile sites in Iran and, of course, when you’re 90 miles offshore from Florida, you don’t want to entertain the prospect of hosting bases or sites where Hezbollah could have training camps or perhaps have missile sites or weapons sites in Cuba. This would be foolish.”
Bachmann was referring to a report in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, which claimed that Hezbollah was setting up a base in Cuba to target Israelis in Latin America. The article was circulated on some conservative blogs, but did not report that Hezbollah planned to import weapons; rather, the terror operation was said to be oriented around intelligence collection, coordination of the group’s logistics in Latin America and identification forgery.
Bachmann has been seizing on the Cuba issue of late to stress her foreign policy bona fides. During the Republican debate last Thursday, Bachmann sharply denounced former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson’s statement that he would be inclined toward allowing charter flights between Cuba and the United States.
“According to the State Department’s website, there are four nations that are state sponsors of terror. Cuba is one of those nations. We would never have flights between the United States and Cuba. It’s a state sponsor of terror,” Bachmann said.
Cuba was placed on the terror list in 1982, after the Reagan administration accused Cuban dictator Fidel Castro of providing aid to communist rebels in other areas of Latin America.