Who is who in the Iranian threat in Latin AmericaWho is who in the Iranian threat in Latin America
The faces of the main characters in the story of espionage revealed by Univision.
(By Casto Ocando and Jorge Mota
Mohammad Hassan Ghadiri
Diplomat and Iranian academic, Mohammad Hassan Ghadiri was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1953. He began his university studies in 1971 in Florence, Italy, where two years later he founded the first Islamic Association for Iranian Students in Italy. There he received his first undergraduate diploma and later a PhD in architecture. He also completed a PhD in Strategic Science that he achieved in Tehran.
Opposed to the monarchic regimen of Sha Mohammad Reza Pahlevi, Ghadiri was designated to his first diplomatic functions immediately after the triumph of the revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Sha.
During his diplomatic career he worked as Iran’s ambassador in Australia and Mexico. Ghadiri developed an interest for languages: he speaks English, Spanish, Italian and Farsi, his mother tongue.
During his stay in Mexico, Ghadiri had a very active administration. According to a cable from the State Department from United States dated March 2009, which was published by Wikileaks, Ghadiri embarked in a campaign to increase the presence of Iran in Mexico. His plan even included a project to open a consulate in Tijuana.
Another Wikileaks cable published in March 2009 called Ghadiri’s anti-Semitic rhetoric as “problematic” for Mexico and revealed that the Mexican secret services kept a close eye around the diplomat’s activities.
In that same cable Ghadiri’s efforts to grant access into Mexico to Edgardo Ruben Assad, alias Shaykh Soheil Assad, an Islamic activist accused by Argentina for participating in the attacks towards Jewish organizations in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994.
Ghadiri wrote, amongst other books, This is Islam, edited in 2008 and translated to several languages. In the book he defends concepts such as polygamy, defending it to be a way to avoid “cheating like it happens in the West.”
Currently he is a professor in International Relations and Strategy in Tehran.
Born in Tobat Haidariah, Iran, in 1952, Mohsen Rabbani is considered as one of the most important promoters of the Iranian agenda in Latin America, with operations and connections from Venezuela to Argentina, including Brazil and Bolivia.
His first experience in Latin America was in the early 80s when he arrived in Argentina as an Iranian businessman with close ties to the Shiite community. Shortly after he led the al-Tawhid mosque in Buenos Aires where he strengthened his ties with the Argentinian Muslim community.
Between 1994 and 1998 he acted as cultural attaché for the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires. At that same time, according to an investigation, he actively participated in the attacks in 1992 and 1994 against the Jewish community center AMIA, which resulted in many deaths.
Currently he is a fugitive sought after by the Interpol for the anti-Jewish attacks in Argentina.
Several investigations in Argentina and Brazil tie Rabbani with terrorist activities in South America related to Hezbollah and Jihad.
Currently it is said that Rabbani is directing from Iran a network of Islamic agents disseminated in several Latin American countries.
Activist and Venezuelan diplomat Livia Antonieta Acosta Noguera is the Venezuelan consul in Miami since March 2011. Before this position, Acosta had different jobs, from being part of the government of Hugo Chavez to cultural aggregate in the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Peru, as well as organizer of Bolivarian circles in Venezuela.
Acosta has degrees in International Relations and Theology. Before being a government employee, she was deputy headmaster at Baptist Seminary of Venezuela, which belongs to the Baptist Church.
At the beginning of the Chavist government, Acosta was responsible for Special Projects at the Microfinance Development Fund, handling micro-credits for the lower income sector.
Between 2001 and 2002, she helped organize Bolivarian circles to promote the Chavist ideology both inside and outside Venezuela. In 2003 she worked as aggregate of international issues for the Dominican Republic embassy, where she stayed until 2006.
In 2007, she became vice secretary of the Mexican embassy. There she worked on the cultural and political promotion and cultivated relations with Mexican leftist groups such as Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) and ally to presidential candidate Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador.
In 2008, she was linked to activists and directors from the Cuban and Iranian embassies in Mexico and with a group of students and professors of the Universidad Autonóma de Mexico (UNAM) who worked in a supposed cyber attack towards the United States. According to videos and audio of her encounters with the hackers, Acosta participated actively and informed about the operations to her bosses in Venezuela, including to President Hugo Chavez.
In 2010, Acosta moved to the Venezuelan embassy in Peru where she remained until early 2011 as responsible of the consulate area. In March 2011, she was appointed as Venezuelan Consul in Miami.
Antonio Salas is the pseudonym of a polemic Spanish investigative journalist who decided to keep his name anonymous after publishing controversial books that uncovered criminal networks.
The revelations in his first book, Diary of a Skin, revealed key information for the trial against the neo-Nazi organization Hammerskin Spain, in which Salas infiltrated to uncover the neo-Nazi groups in Europe.
In The Year I Dealt Women, he infiltrated a prostitution network in Spain and drove the Mexican government to investigate slave trade of girls in Chiapas.
His next project took him six years of risky investigations where he infiltrated a network of international terrorists that lead to The Palestinian. Under the identity of Muhhamad Abdallah, supposedly a Muslim born in Venezuela with Palestinian ancestry, and armed with a hidden camera, Salas infiltrated terrorist organizations that planned suicidal attacks in Jordan and Casablanca. He witnessed propaganda and Islamist recruitment activities in European mosques, documented links between Hezbollah and Islamist Jihad in the most dangerous slums of Venezuela, and witnessed the terrorist training in the fields of the FARC guerrillas in Colombia. He also became close friends with Carlos The Jackal, one of the most feared international terrorists arrested in 1994.
Currently Salas is in hiding, dedicated to promote his books anonymously.
Francisco Guerrero Lutteroth
Engineer and professor at the engineering department of the Universidad Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM), Francisco Guerrero Lutteroth was a popular figure amongst the classrooms of the university and also controversial outside of them, especially as director of the Union of Professors from the engineering faculty at UNAM.
According to testimonies gathered by Univision, Lutteroth was the inspiration for a group of students at UNAM that worked as hackers in operations coordinated between the Cuban, Venezuelan, Iranian embassies in Mexico.
The academic also owned a gas station with enough income to allow him to lead a lifestyle above average. In the classroom he was known to be passionate, although his students complained about his chronic alcoholism.
At the UNAM he met Juan Carlos Muñoz Ledo and invited him to work at the Union of Professors of Engineers at UNAM and to join a group that organized cyber attacks against the United States.
Later, Muñoz Ledo described Lutteroth as a G2 Cuban agent, and as the nexus to Cuba in the cyber attacks.
Lutteroth is identified as a Cuban intelligence agent Oscar Marino in a German documentary that described the supposed participation of Cuban agents in the attack towards American president John F Kennedy.
Lutteroth passed away in 2008 in midst of the organization of cyber attacks against American objectives.
Juan Carlos Muñoz Ledo
Juan Carlos Muñoz Born in Mexico City in 1978 to a middle class family. In 1998, he enrolled at the UNAM for Psychology, and he was part of the Programa de Alto Rendimiento Academico, better known as PAEA (high honors program).
He partook in social services with professor Rogelio Diaz Guerrero, founder of Mexican Ethnopsychology and Sociology.
Before joining UNAM, Juan Carlos and a few friends learned how to operate computer systems. He even took math classes with doctor Luis Rendón, who was in charge of the Electronic Microscope at UNAM.
Although he never finished his Psychology thesis, he continued to be closely related to UNAM through different jobs, such as General Director of Libraries, where he dictated courses in database and information systems for research. In the Political Science faculty he helped to organize the interdisciplinary seminar of Communications and Information, including activities such as catalogue and analyzing investigative articles and creating the website.
Lastly he worked with engineer Francisco Guerrero Lutteroth in the Union of Professors of the Engineering faculty at UNAM. There, he elaborated training courses for faculty.
He would have been a link between the supposed group of hackers directed by Lutteroth and the Cuban embassy in Mexico. According to Muñoz, the group conducted hacking, cyber intelligence and possibly cyber terrorism petitioned by the Venezuelan and Iranian embassies in Mexico.
Muñoz Ledo told Univision that he decided to record part of these events to expose them to the public, with the intention of stopping such activities and prevent any possible attack that might result with human victims.
José Carlos García Tolentino
He was born in a town called Nezahualcoyotl in the state of Mexico on April 11, 1991 and moved with his family to Mexico City in 2004. His mother Teodora Tolentino was hired to take care of the ailing grandfather of Juan Carlos Muñoz Ledo in 2006. She then contacted Muñoz Ledo when José Carlos decided he wanted to go to UNAM Law School.
In July 2010, Juan Carlos invited José Carlos to get involved in transcribing the recordings that a group of university students had obtained from the Iranian and Venezuelan embassies.
Jose Carlos was shy at first, but later became more involved with the group. In early 2001, he was able to go to Iran to participate in an Islam course in Spanish at the University of Qom. His intention was to infiltrate Iranians in their own territory, coordinating with Muñoz Ledo’s group. During several months he took the course and José Carlos was able to record. There, he met Mohsen Rabbani, one of the main Iranian activists in Latin America.
After being caught with recording equipment, José Carlos was able to escape unscathed and took refuge at the Spanish embassy in Tehran, and from there, to Mexico.
Months after his arrival in Mexico, José Carlos and his family decided to cross the border to ask for political asylum in the US. Currently, José Carlos is in a detention center awaiting his immigration status to be processed.
Born into a humble family in Mexico City on September 5th, 1975, Noemí started her Psychology studies at the UNAM in 1996 through the “open university” program. Even though in 2004 she finished all the credits required for the degree, she didn’t finish her thesis because she went through a high-risk pregnancy.
During her student years, she met Juan Carlos Muñoz Ledo, but it’s not until 2009 when they meet again and starts learning details of the operation within the embassies. Noemí says that in one instance she “got really scared” and volunteered to help Juan Carlos get out of the situation. She started transcribing material recorded at the embassies and even acted as a contact with employees of the Venezuelan and Iranian embassies, including attaché Livia Acosta.
Noemí played a crucial role in the recruitment of the new members of Muñoz Ledo’s group, including her family members and friends, whom she invited to volunteer for the group.
When all the massive recording materials and transcriptions were compiled, Noemí was in charge of contacting media outlets and political parties in Mexico to seek help and block the hacking operations taking place between UNAM and Iranian and Venezuelan embassies.
Currently, Noemí works as adviser for Basic Education in Miguel Hidalgo delegation in Mexico City and is the mother of a 6-year-old girl.