At the U.N. last week, President Trump had harsh words for the “socialist dictatorship” that has impoverished Venezuela. He railed against “Islamist extremism” and “radical Islamic terrorism,” the former a supremacist ideology, the latter a weapon being used to mass-murder Muslims, Christians Yazidis, Jews and Hindus. He took note, too, of the threat posed by “international criminal networks” that “traffic drugs, weapons, people.”
What may not have occurred to Mr. Trump or most of his audience: the extent to which these evils are now being combined.
No one personifies this poisonous cocktail better than Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela’s 43-year-old vice president. Mr. El Aissami comes from a Lebanese-Syrian family with ties to Shia jihadi groups in Iraq. He also has been linked to a list of South American drug traffickers. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, he was appointed to the No. 2 government job in January by Venezuela’s dictator, President Nicolas Maduro.
One month later, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Mr. El Aissami, saying he “played a significant role in international narcotics trafficking.” At least some of his assets — estimated at around $3 billion — were frozen.