This is a follow-up to my recent article on FARC.
The dirty little secret of Private War is that it is supported by a wide array of organizations, groups, criminal syndicates and sympathizers on a global basis. Without these and their unpaid (as well as paid) spokesmen willingly taking up their propaganda and attempting to cast these brazen killers in a 'kinder, gentler' light, they would be seen as the petty tyrants and mobsters that they are. One of the older groups, though by no means as old as the PLO for example, is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC. At the start FARC started up as any other Communist/Leftist terror organization that made the hearts of those western-liberals go pit-a-pat in Marxist glee (Source: translation by Fausta) : "To create a great revolutionary Army with the support of the masses in order to destroy the capitalist system and install socialism."
Terrorism of the late 1960's was not the awful monster it is today, save to those who got to experience some form of 'liberation' via AK-47 or pipebomb first-hand. Through the 1970's FARC remained relatively Marxist and while insular it was nowhere close to being as insular as Shining Path in Peru. As these hodge-podge of organizations lived, however, their disparate goals coalesced along the forms of violence they inflicted and that led to a commonality of means amongst all 'terrorist organizations'. The one common factor across FARC, IRA, ETA, PLO, HAMAS, Shining Path, and, indeed, all terrorist organizations is: violence, gunplay, explosives, kidnapping and funding. Add those to intimidation for local support and no matter what the terrorist organization espouses it comes to practice warfare on people to enforce its will upon them. The West, in general, embroiled in the Cold War, did not want to stir up any minor conflicts that might get a sudden, nuclear tipped nightmare for humanity, and across the board from Europe to the US to Japan and Australia, no one would pay any attention to this problem. Indeed, it would be seen as a way to pull down the Western form of Nation State practiced by both the West and Soviet Union. The USSR would be so unwise as to support those trying to bring this form of state down, however, not realizing that the violence would not stop against the West once Nations began to crumble. Thus one of their clients would be one of the first, and by no means last, to support terrorism of all stripes.
The Terror Infrastructure
Moahammar Kadaffy (your spelling may vary!) of Libya set up one of the first government based institutions to facilitate that cross pollination in 1982. Going by the name Al Mathaba (or Center), Kadaffy would put it together as an 'Anti-Imperialism Center' while, in fact, entertaining dictators, tyrants and terrorists from around the globe and helping them to interact with each other. The Globalsecurity site has this in its thumbnail sketch of Al Mathaba:
Al Mathaba (meaning center) is the Libyan center for anti-imperialist propaganda which has funded third world guerilla groups. The Anti-Imperialism Center (AIC) - also known as Mathaba - is used by the Libyan Government to support terrorist networks and thus plays an important role in Qadhafi's terrorism strategy. Established in 1982 to support "liberation and revolutionary groups”, the AIC has sponsored a number of stridently anti-Western conferences in Tripoli. At the same time, the AIC's mission is to identify and recruit revolutionaries for ideological and military training in Libya. During their training at AIC camps, individuals are selected for advanced training, including in weapons and explosives, and indoctrination. With representatives in many Libyan embassies worldwide, the AIC runs its own independent clandestine operations and disburses payments to terrorist, insurgent, and subversive groups.
It had better be clandestine with those as its goals! The 30 year anniversary of this butcher's workshop included the following:
Many heads of state were present: Sam Nujoma (Namibia), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Yoweri Kaguta Musaveni (Uganda), Blaise Campraore (Burkina Faso), Alpha Oumar Konare (Mali), Yahya Jammeh (Gambia), Idris Deby (Chad), Abdou Diouf (Senegal), and the President of Guinea Bissao. Progressive political forces, communists and revolutionaries were there as well: the Cuban CP, Shaffik Handal (FMLN, San Salvador), the Guatamalan URNG, Tomas Borge and Daniel Ortega of the FSLN (Nicaragua), Raul Reyes (FARC, Columbia), a personal representative of Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Lula, of the Brazilian Labour Party, Gladys Marin, General Secretary of the Chilian CP, Marina Arismendi, General Secretary of the Uruguayan CP. From Europe there was a very varied Italian delegation, with the Refoundation Communist Party in particular, and a Spanish delegation from the United Left (José Cabo) and from OSPAAAL.
FARC is a case in point in this confab, although the actors outside Latin America demonstrate just how far Kadaffy has reached over more than three decades with his terror spreading organization and support. Notice that those from Latin America make up an axis of support of which FARC is not out of place: Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay each sent supporting representatives of their 'progressive' groups to show solidarity and have a lovely anniversary with Kadaffy.
This 'anti-imperialist' outlook would continue on and spawn numerous organizations to support the 'revolutionary' concepts touted by Kadaffy and others. What is interesting is that the organization, by being 'anti-imperialist' would easily support any kind of thug or dictator around, thus ensuring that 'revolutionary' language would be put to the beck and call of tyrants and despots. One such incident was from the Spanish Campaign for Lifting Sanctions on Iraq held on 02-03 MAY 2001:
The Spanish Campaign for Lifting Sanctions on Iraq (SCLSI), which has been working since 1991 in the Spanish State for the end to the genocide against the Iraqi people and of US military intervention against Iraq, in co-operation with the Review Resumen Latinoamericano organised the ANTI-IMPERIALIST SOLIDARITY MEETING OF LATINAMERICAN ORGANIZATIONS IN BAGHDAD on 2 and 3 May, 2001, under the slogans 'For solidarity between peoples', 'Against US interventionism against Third World countries', 'For ending the embargo and the war against Iraq', 'No to the 'Plan Colombia'.
As in previous delegations promoted by our organisation to Iraq, the SCLSI has previewed for the Latin-American delegates several meetings and visits in order to let them know the sanctions impact over the Iraqi people and the regional situation. All the delegates will participate as well in the meeting of BAGHDAD CONFERENCE that will be held next May 5th and 6th.
Delegates, General secretaries, Presidents and MP of 16 political, social, Indians, and peasants organisations from all over the American continent have confirmed their presence.
Argentina: Patria Libre Movement. Support of CORREPI and Madres de Plaza de Mayo. Bolivia: Federación de Campesinos del Trópico and Confederación Única de Trabajadores Campesinos. Support of Communist Party. Brasil: Without Land Movement (Movimiento de los Sin Tierra, MST) & Work Party Chile: Communist Party of Chile. Colombia: Communist Party of Colombia. Support of FARC-EP). Cuba: Communist Party of Cuba and OSPAAAL. Ecuador: Popular Front. Support of CONAIE and CMS). El Salvador: National Liberation Front Farabundo Martí (FMLN). Guatemala: Gutemala National Revolutionaty Union (Unión Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca, URNG). Honduras: Democratic Unificated Party (Partiido de Unificación Democrática). Perú: Mariateguista Unificated Party (Partido Unificado Mariateguista) and Comunist Party of Perú. Puerto Rico: New Independentist Movement. Support of CPRDV from Vieques. República Dominicana: Revolution Force (Popular, Caamañist and Communist) Venezuela: Fith Republic Movement (Movimiento Quinta República).
Here, again, the compendium of 'radical' terror groups and it is interesting that taking up 'solidarity between peoples' means supporting such a genocidal killer as Saddam Hussein. As with the Libyan main movement, this organization features many of the same groups, with the same goal of 'solidarity'. The one interesting thing to be noted is that 'Plan Colombia' is a wide-ranging COIN initiative that goes a bit further than just Colombia, but is centered there due to cocaine and heroin production. As COIN, of necessity, also targets organized crime and connections with other groups, slowly pulling apart one group that is connected to many others is a threat to *all of them*.
The Heritage Foundation published a backgrounder on 02 AUG 1983 by Victoria Scully on The PLO's Growing Latin American Base, which looked at the establishment of the PLO sympathizer organizations in the region. Some choice excerpts from it (all spelling and punctuation errors in the original):
Yet another external force is escalating its interference in this Hemisphere--the terrorist Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO works closely with Nicaragua's radical Sandinista regime and is helping those who are trying to overthrow El Salvador's democratically elected government. At camps in Cuba and the Middle East, the PLO trains cadres of terrorists, which head back to Latin America to undermine established regimes. While the PLO is not the cause of Latin America's most basic problems, it is exploiting them.
In turn, the PLO increasingly uses its growing Latin American base to reinforce its international terrorist campaign against the United States and Israel FORGING PLO-CUBAN-SOVIET LINKS Since its establishment by the Arab League in 1964, the PLO has grown from an irredentist militia into what has been described as IIa multinational business corporation, with an amalgam of terrorism and diplomacy as its end product.'I1 objective was the destruction of Israel and its replacement by a l'secular democratic state In broader terms, the PLO has been Its original conducting a two-pronged offensive against what it calls "American Christopher Dobson and Ronald Payne Leaders and Tactics (New York: Facts The Terrorists: Their Weapons on File, 1982 p. 90 2 imperialism, Western colonialism, and world Zionism.1' One prong is a political campaign against Israel and its allies-the U.S in particular--waged in every international forum since the late 1960s. The second prong is a transnational terrorist network to attack the allies and supporters of Israel and the United States international, regional, and civil conflicts the anti-Jewish and anti-American rubric of its own hostilities. In this, the PLO has found in Latin America particularly fertile ground. Latin American support was decisive when the United Nations sponsored establishment of Israel in 1947 and from 1947 to 1972, Latin American nations provided more than half of the United Nations votes in support of Israel In both cases, the PLO's objective has been to impose upon The PLO's penetration of Latin American nationalist and democratic movements has been gradual It made its international debut, in fact, inrCuba at the 1966 First Conference of the Organization of Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America (OSPAAL). As a result of contacts established there, PLO-Cuban cooperation began on a limited and individual basis In 1968, for instance, Cuban intelligence and military persorinel assisted the PLO in North Africa and Iraq In 1969 PLO and Cuban officers were jointly trained in the Soviet Union.
The list of PLO contacts from that report is staggering, including:
- Sandinistas being trained by the PLO and Cuba in Lebanon, Sandinistas receiving direct funding from Libya, Algeria supplying Soviet arms to the Sandinistas;
- PLO support for the Farabundo Marti including Shafik Handal of the Salvadoran Communist Party meeting regularly with Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine;
- Anti-Jewish activities sponsored via the PLO through offices in the Brasilian Arab League Office, Vangarde Popular Revolutionera terrorist organization sponsored by the Brazilian Communist Party and PLO with training in Lebanon, VPR working with Fatah and the PFLP, forming Junta de Coordinacion Revolucionaria between VPR and PFLP to sponsor terror organizations in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, and Uruguay;
- JCR included Chile's Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria, Argentina's Peoples Revolutionary Army, Bolivia's National Liberation Army, Uruguay's Tupamaros - all having links to PLO and PFLP with training in Cuba and Lebanon;
- PLO links with the Peronist-Marxist Movimiento Peronista Montonero in Argentina;
- PLO representative Issam Besseiso in Peru established contacts with the Student Federation, UNIDAD the Peruvian Communist Party, Expreso and El Comercio;
- PLO worked to establish ties with FARC, PLO/PFLP established ties with M-19;
- opening PLO offices in Panama with the blessing of Panamanian President Aristedes Royo;
- working to destabilize Costa Rica via at least 20 terrorist cells supported by PLO and Libya;
- Mexican offices established PLO contacts with Social Workers Party, Unified Party of Mexico, Revolutionary Workers Party;
The presence of PLO contacts across Latin America with Cuban, Libyan and Soviet sponsorship cannot be underestimated in the ability of these organizations to contact each other. Even as regimes rose and fell, many of the background connections would continue on, although some few were put to rest in places like El Salvador, others in Colombia, Brazil and Chile would remain over the decades.
FARC was far more than a passive connection organization, however, and would establish its own ties with organizations like the IRA. At the Center for Defense Information a 05 JUN 2002 paper on FARC-IRA connectivity brings this into the light, examining the types and variety of contacts this cooperation would establish:
As this indicates, reports that foreign terrorists have been operating within Colombia are neither entirely new nor particularly surprising. Colombian groups such as FARC have long been known to contract military experts and terrorists from overseas, with European terrorist organizations reported to have often brokered such deals. The Red Army Faction is believed to have been especially active in such activities, using mostly Middle Eastern contracted trainers. Former British, Israeli, and U.S. military personnel are also reputed to have been involved in such training in the past. According to Gen. Fernando Tapias, chairman of the Columbian Joint Chiefs of Staff, nationals from Iran, Iraq, Nicaragua, Ecuador, El Salvador, Venezuela, Israel and Germany have been identified by FARC informants and deserters as carrying out recent training for the Columbian terrorist group.
Such statements tally with that made in March by the acting commander in chief of U.S. Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Gary D. Speer, who stated that links existed between Latin America and transnational terrorist organizations including the IRA, Hezbullah, Hamas, Islamyya al Gama’at (IG), and the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA). Speer also said that Southern Command had long been monitoring terrorist activities in the region, including such incidents as the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and the Jewish-Argentine Cultural Center in Argentina in 1994 (attributed to Hezbullah), the capture of the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Peru by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movements (MRTA) in 1996, and the pattern of narco-terrorism in Colombia generally. However, The IRA training of FARC members represents an alarming development, not least as the Irish group is widely held to be among the most proficient practitioners of terrorism in the world. Moreover, if claims that such training has occurred are believed, it may cost the IRA heavily in terms of the support it has traditionally enjoyed in the United States, and lead to the organization being viewed as having a global reach.
Allegations of a FARC-IRA connection arose after the arrest of three Irishmen in Bogotá in August 11, 2001. The men, James Monaghan, Martin McCauley, and Neil Connolly, were traveling using false passports, and found to have traces of explosive on their belongings. All three were subsequently charged with training FARC members in the use of explosives. Security sources in both the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic say the men are IRA members. Monaghan is believed to have designed the IRA homemade mortar. Originally developed with Libyan help in the early 1970s, the primitive Mark I prototype has evolved into the much more sophisticated Mark 18 "barracks buster," named for its effectiveness in targeting security force bases in Northern Ireland. Monaghan’s skill in making this weapon has earned him the nickname "Mortar Monaghan." Similarly, MaCauley and Connolly are reported to be among the IRA’s best explosive experts.
Connolly is believed to have initiated contact with FARC through the Spanish terrorist group ETA five years ago, and known to be the official representative in Cuba of the Sinn Fein, IRA’s political wing. The appointment was initially denied but later admitted by the party. Sinn Fein’s President Gerry Adams claimed that Connolly was appointed without his knowledge or that of the international department of Sinn Fein, while confirming that "one of our [Sinn Fein’s] senior members asked Niall Connolly to represent the party in Cuba." When asked by Columbian authorities, Monaghan, MaCauley, and Connelly had initially insisted that they were in FARC’s semi-autonomous safe-haven as eco-tourists, but later claimed to be in Columbia to view the peace process and exchange experiences on this and the one in Northern Ireland.
Adams denied that any training had taken place and refused to attend an April hearing into any FARC-IRA connection, saying he did not want to prejudice the trial of the three captive Irishmen. U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), chairman of the House International Relations Committee, said at the hearing that there had been a "quantum leap in the FARC’s terrorist proficiency on the ground and in urban warfare, which the Columbian authorities believe is attributable to IRA training." This improvement in FARC’s capabilities is apparent from the huge expansion in attacks in the past 18 months that has left 400 Columbian Army and police personnel dead. The attacks saw a shift to economic and urban targets as well as the increased use of car bombs — a development that has caused the death of 10 percent of the country’s bomb disposal experts since January. Columbian forces have also been increasingly targeted by ‘secondary devices’ — explosive devices used to ambush anyone responding to other, more apparent bomb threats. Longer range mobile mortars such as those pioneered by Monaghan have also recently become a new weapon in the FARC arsenal. Such strategy, tactics, and equipment bear remarkable similarities to those used by the IRA, greatly heightening the suspicion that Monaghan, McCauley, and Connolly were in Columbia for reasons other than eco-tourism or an exchange of experience on peace negotiations. Moreover, indications that the IRA retains international links with other terrorist groups do not stop in Columbia.
FARC, ETA, IRA, Cuba - that is not an axis the left in the US likes to look at, but it is one that gets hundreds killed in Latin America and further as IRA training spreads outwards via the cross-training that happens with other groups like the PLO and Red Factions. The report goes on to link the IRA and PLO via bomb type and training necessary to utilize such weapons effectively:
Moreover, Sinn Fein has weathered the risk of damaging it levels of support in the United States before, such as when Adams visited Cuba last December. British intelligence claim that the IRA may have earned as much as $2 million for training FARC, perhaps a conservative estimate as the Columbian terrorist group’s annual income from illicit drugs sales is estimated at $1 billion. Such financial incentive may have convinced the IRA that training FARC was worth the risk, especially if reports from Russia’s intelligence services that the Irish group has recently purchased a shipment of the new AN-94 assault rifle prove true. Such armaments do not come cheap, especially if undertaken while decommissioning selected stockpiles of existing weapons. Moreover, the FARC-held region of Columbia offers the IRA an unsurpassed training area to perfect its own weapons and tactics. This is more vital than ever now that the political expediencies of the Northern Ireland peace process effectively put the IRA's historical training areas in the Irish Republic out of bounds. The risk of the Irish authorities discovering that the IRA are engaged in terrorist training while ostensibly observing a ceasefire outweigh the benefits of the organization's engaging in such activities. Using Columbia as a testing ground carries far less risk. It is also possible that the IRA may simply have become overconfident that the support they enjoyed in America was something they could depend on whatever the case may be. Sept. 11 may have changed that forever.
Even as the IRA found itself having to cope with peace accords, it had assumed a general posture of being ready to start up again. Those last few years before 9/11 allowed the organization to utilize its contact web and cross-train with other organizations even as some of its main funding sources would start to dry up in the US after 9/11. The IRA may fade, but its skills and tactics will live on in other organizations, of which FARC is just one.
As seen in the PLO section, they could not have made all of the contacts they did make without the help of Cuba. Revolutionary Cuba would be a center of instability for Latin America as Fidel Castro would seek to export revolution and terrorism across the region and into places like the Angolan civil war for the USSR. This has been long standing policy of Cuba since early on as seen in the article Monster by Humberto Fontova in the 15 JUL 2005 FrontPageMag:
Castro had only been in power two months when he started sending armed guerrillas to attempt the overthrow of neighboring nations. The Dominican Republic, Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti and Venezuela were the early targets. In fact Castro's very first trip abroad as head of state was to Caracas where on January 25th, 1959 he implored then Venezuelan President Romulo Betancourt to join his "master plan against the gringos!" Basically this involved massive loans, financial aid and shipments of free oil to Castro from Venezuela. Betancourt balked and no sooner had Castro returned home empty handed than he was planning subversion in Venezuela, including assassination attempts against Betancourt.
It took Hugo Chavez to finally enlist with Castro's plan. In 2004 Cuba got 1.3 billion in essentially free oil from Venezuela. By mid 2005, 160,000 barrels of oil were flowing from Venezuela to Cuba daily. This is much more oil than Cuba's refineries can process, because most of this oil is resold to Central American nations by Cuba, who pockets the handsome profit. Here's the second half of the "master plan against the gringo's." that Castro had originally proposed to Romulo Betancourt.
Castro's subversion, not just of his neighbors, but throughout Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, reached a point where a U.S. defense Department estimates that 42,000 foreign guerrillas and terrorists have received their training in Cuba. Not that Castro's own home-grown terrorists have been exactly idle.
In 1966 Havana hosted the Tri-Continental Conference, a worldwide convention for guerrillas and terrorists; the first of its kind, where Castro vowed to aid any group anywhere who were fighting "colonialism, neocolonialism, and imperialism."
Among other initiatives at the Conference, Cuba formed OSPAAAL (Organization of Solidarity with the People from Africa, Asia and Latin America.) and the DLN (National Liberation Directorate.) This later was under the direction of KGB Col. Vadim Kotchergine and set up massive terrorist training camps in western Cuba. These were soon filled with guerrillas and terrorists from Al Fatah, to the Sandinistas, to El Salvador's FMLF, to the Tupamaros to the Weather Underground to the IRA and Spain's ETA. In 1968 Castro sent military instructors into Palestinian bases in Jordan to train Palestinian Fedayeen. In November 1974 Castro personally decorated his brother-in-arms, Yasir Arafat, with Cuba's highest honor, the Bay of Pigs Medal. The Egyptian newspaper Ahar Sa'ah reported in September 13, 1978 that 500 Palestinian fighters were training in Cuba.
Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the infamous "Carlos The Jackal" known as the world's most notorious terrorist throughout the 1970's received his training in Cuba and lived in Cuba for years. Everyone from America's Black Liberation Army to Puerto Rico's Macheteros, to South Yemen's NLF, to Argentina's Monteneros, to Colombia's ELN , to Namibia's SWAPO, to the Black Panthers, To Western Sahara's Polisaro to the IRA have received training and funding from Castro. "Thanks to Castro" boasted Colombia's FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) commander Tiro-Fijo in a 2001 interview, "we are now a powerful army, not a hit and run band."
Scholar Walter Laquer sums it up in his work, The Age of Terrorism. "Multinational terrorism reached a first climax in the early 1970s. It involved close co-operation between small terrorist groups in many countries with the Libyans, Algerians, Syrians, North Koreans and Cubans acting as the paymasters and suppliers of weapons and equipment."
The U.S. State department still lists Cuba prominently among its, "State Sponsors of Terrorism."
As of mid 2005 Cuba provides haven for 77 fugitives from U.S. law including several on the FBI's most wanted listed. Among these are cop-killers Michael Finney, Charlie Hill and Joanne Chesimard along with Victor Gerena, responsible for a $7 million heist of a Wells Fargo truck in Connecticut in 1983 as a member of the Puerto Rican terrorist group Los Macheteros. All requests for their extradition had been repeatedly ignored or rebuffed.
By 1976 Castro's intervention abroad became more blatant when he sent tens of thousands of troops to Africa. Most, 50,000, went to fight Jonas Savimbi's UNITA forces in Angola. Thousands more went to prop up the Marxist Mengistu regime in Ethiopia. And others were scattered throughout the continent from Guinea Bissau to Bourkina Fasso to Sierra Leone to Mozambique to Zimbabwe. All told, by 1983, Cuban troops were stationed in 20 sub-Saharan African nations. In 1988 Dr. Aubin Heyndrickx, the senior United Nations consultant on chemical warfare, documented that : "There is no doubt anymore that the Cubans are using nerve gases (Sarin) against the troops of Mr. Jonas Savimbi."
"Together Iran and Cuba can bring America to her knees!" raved Castro to a thunderous ovation at Tehran University in August 2001.
"Iran is strengthening her economic and political relations with Cuba, and there exist other areas for cooperation." Declared Iranian Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel in a meeting with the visiting Cuban Vice President, Jose Ramon Fernandez, on January 16, 2005.
For those who don't remember the Cold War or want to forget it, there were points when it appeared that the Cuba sponsorship of terrorism on a global basis seemed to be wagging the Soviet dog: Fidel Castro got involved in nearly any conflict so long as it met his less than stringent guidelines and the USSR could do little to stop him. Even today, as seen by the testimony of Nancy Menges, Luis Fleischman and Nicole Ferrand submitted to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on 05 MAR 2008, Raul Castro has evidenced little in the way of external change even as his brother Fidel is ailing. That lifeline provided by Hugo Chavez is about the only thing keeping Cuba's regime afloat these days. That and any income they garner through terrorist training.
FARC was one of many groups to Castro, as it was to the IRA, PLO and Libya: as long as it was 'anti-imperialist' or 'marxist' it got a free pass in the world of leftist terrorism and continues to get support from the left end of the spectrum even after it has turned into little more than a mafia organization with slogans of glamour.
And it is that narcotics part that fuels FARC, according to the House International Relations Committee (Source: WND 07 MAY 2002 article by Toby Westerman), to the tune of $2 million.
And that is most likely on the conservative/low-side, as $1 billion annually comes out to a bit more than that, about $2.7 million/day.
Tri-Border Area of South America
The TBA is one of the most problematical of areas in South America as it is generally regarded as lawless and ungovernable between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. The TBA has seen activity all through the 1970's and early 1980's, but by the late 1980's the regime of Carlos Menem in Argentina would change the amount of activity and type of it. This would be due to the interest by Syria in supporting the Menem regime to get long range missile technology and a nuclear power plant from Argentina (Source: Limits to Governability, Corruption and Transnational Terrorism by Carlos Escude and Beatriz Gurevich in ESTUDIOS INTERDISCIPLINARIOS DE AMERICA, LATINA Y EL CARIBE, VOLUMEN 14 - No.2, JULIO-DICIEMBRE 2003) , and their agent would be a man well used to dealing with such things: Monzer al-Kassar. Known as a dealer in illegal arms, Monzer al-Kassar's family has been involved of the Bekaa Valley heroin trade and with the Assad family which has nominal control over the Bekaa valley drug trad via Rifat Assad. That as seen by Anthony LoBaido in a WND piece in 30 JUL 2000 traveling through the Baalbeck valley, Monzer al-Kassar serves as an interface between the drug syndicates run by Syria and multiple operations, including ones linked to the US DEA. The Bekaa is central to the Hezbollah training operations not only for itself but for diverse terrorist organizations like the Japanese Red Army, Aum Shinrikyo, PKK and Ganesh. This points to not only tolerance but open acceptance of non-Islamic terrorist organizations on a global scale. Additionally al-Kassar is a distant cousin to Carlos Menem, so family and power ties, along with contacts made during the Iran/Contra arms deals served to give al-Kassar a ready entree into S. America (Source: translated open letter to Dr. Kirchner by Christian Sanz and Fernando Paolella). An Insight on the News article by Ydidya Atlas on 30 AUG 1993 documents that al-Kassar was already well established with multiple terrorist organizations:
The Schumet report notes that three-quarters of the 40,000 Syrian military, intelligence and security personnel in Lebanon are stationed in the Bekaa Valley. Their "peacekeeping" duties appear to include extortion of protection payments from drug growers and processors, collecting bribes at Syrian army roadblocks and ports, and providing transportation of drugs on army trucks, helicopters and even naval vessels to dealers who pay off top Syrian officials.
Most U.S. officials still deny knowledge of any involvement by Syria in the drug trade and appear hesitant to act on solid evidence of such involvement. The matter of Monser al-Kassar is a case in point. The subcommittee report relates that the Kassar family has been affiliated with the Assad regime since the Syrian dictator took power in 1970. Moreover, the Kassars "control one of the world's largest arms and narcotics networks.... [They) provide governments with access to arms and equipment through irregular channels, [which] allows them to do business with high-level government officials who wish to deal off-the-record' with terrorists or other politically-sensitive groups."
Monser al-Kassar seems to be untouchable, even though he is "one of the most-watched individuals by the DEA and CIA" and was linked in a 1987 State Department report to the Palestine Liberation Army, terrorist mastermind Abu Nidal, George Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmed Jibril's PFLP-General Command, Nayef Hawatmeh's Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian Liberation Front's Abu Abbas (who organized the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro), to name just a few.
Kassar, listed among the DEA's most-wanted criminals, was arrested at the Madrid airport on June 4, 1992, and charged with involvement in international terrorism, illegal possession of weapons and falsification of documents.
In the mid-1980s, Kassar was involved in shipping arms to the Nicaraguan Contras and to Iran on behalf of independent elements in the National Security Council, then headed by Adm. John Poindexter. During the congressional Iran-Contra hearings, Poindexter explained his dealings with Kassar by saying, "When you're buying arms on the world market ... you often have to deal with people you might not want to go to dinner with."
Western intelligence sources estimate that Syria's combined direct and indirect income from drug dealing is as much as $1 billion, or 10 percent of Syria's annual gross domestic product. This figure includes only government income, and doesn't include what could be billions raked in privately by Syria's ruling elite.
So, taking advantage of American policy illusions similar to those during the Brezhnev era, Syria continues to sponsor and control international terrorist groups operating from Syria and Syrian-controlled Lebanon. These include a variety of Palestinian organizations, from Abu Musa's Fatah Revolutionary Movement to Jibril's PFLP-GC; Lebanese factions; the Kurdish separatist group PKK, or Kurdish Workers Party; the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia; the separatist Basque Land and Liberty, or ETA; and others.
(ETA terrorist experts were dispatched by Syria from the Talbaya and al-Marj camps in the Bekaa Valley to South America to teach terrorist tactics as part of the agreements Syria made with the drug cartel. This came after a meeting in Larnaca, Cyprus, in 1988 between senior Syrian military and intelligence figures and Pablo Escobar of the Medellin drug cartel. Western intelligence agents filmed Escobar meeting with an employee of Assad's nephew on a hotel veranda.)
Monzer al-Kassar, then, in Argentina was establishing far more than just commercial contacts with the Menem regime: he was also making connections between the Syrian narcotics syndicates and the Medellin (and later Cali) drug cartels to start exchanging heroin for cocaine for market diversification in Europe. In a MAY 2002 Library of Congress report A Global Overview of Narcotics Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups examined the role of Monzer al-Kassar in the Israeli Embassy and AMIA Jewish Cultural Center bombings in Argentina:
In the first half of the 1990s, Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in the Triborder Region carried out two major terrorist operations against the Jewish community in Buenos Aires. Islamic terrorists operating out of the Triborder Region leveled the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires with a powerful bomb on March 17, 1992, killing 29 people and wounding 252. The bombing was allegedly carried out by Hizballah and coordinated by terrorist mastermind Imad Mughanniyah (hereafter, Mugniyah) (alias ‘Hajji’), the official in charge of Hizballah foreign operations. Using false Brazilian documents (in the name of Muce Sagy), a Syrian arms trafficker named Monzer Al Kassar was in Foz do Iguaçu to deliver explosives to the group headed by Lebanese Imad Mugniyah.41 (In 1985 Monzer Al Kassar had pretended to be a Rio de Janeiro resident selling arms to Iranian militias on the island of Cyprus.)
On July 18, 1994, a car-bomb exploded at a Jewish cultural center, the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA), in Buenos Aires, demolishing the seven-story building and killing 84 and wounding 300 people. Mugniyah’s Islamic Jihad, one of the armed branches of the pro-Iranian Lebanese Hizballah party, is also accused of having perpetrated the attack against the AMIA. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility shortly after the attack. The Buenos Aires police gathered clues indicating that the explosives or detonators used in the 1994 AMIA bombing were taken from Foz do Iguaçu. Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency held a Hizballah cell responsible for both attacks, saying they were orchestrated by Mugniyah, in cooperation with the Iranian intelligence service (see also Venezuela). The Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires formally accused Mugniyah of providing the explosives used in the AMIA bombing. According to alleged U.S. and Israeli intelligence sources cited by
Insight on the News magazine, Mugniyah was involved in the planning of the AMIA attack and may have parachuted into Argentina at the last minute to activate sleeper networks and handle logistics for the operation, subsequently escaping with the help of an Iranian diplomatic passport.
Looking at a report by Alessia De Caro from Online Gnosis of JAN 2006 some of the ties between Syria, Hezbollah, Argentina and the attacks can be seen and the long term fallout for S. America examined:
In both the attacks of Buenos Aires, the targets of Hizbollah were Israel and the Jewish community in Argentina ( circa 300.000 people), the second, in order of importance on the American continent, after that of the United States. In the case of the attack on AMIA, the investigations officially led also to Iran, allied to the Party of God, which, according to analyses by specialists in the field, had wanted to take revenge against Argentina for their unconditional adherence to North American politics.
Other unofficial clues lead, instead, to Syria, another of Hizbollah's allies, country of origin of the then president of Argentina, Menem and of the Yoma, relatives of his wife, all very close to the family of the Syrian President, and of the known trafficker, Monzer al-Kassar. If this is the right track, besides the first Hizbollah motive of revenge, we have to consider another line of reasoning, i.e. a possible vendetta against President Menem for his failed commitment to deliver to Syria and other Middle East countries, nuclear and missile technology, in exchange for 'under the counter' funds for the electoral campaign.
In addition, such funds seem to come not only from the Syrian government, but also from Egypt and from the Libya of Quaddhafi. The only certain information is that the authors of the Buenos Aires attacks passed through the Triple Frontier, where a numerous Islamic community of Lebanese immigrants, connected with Hizbollah, has been residing for very many years.
The Triple frontier, zone of the borders of three countries, (Paraguay Brazil and Argentina) is the kingdom of illegality. The destination of tourists making for the Falls of the Iguazú River, is situated in a zone surrounded by forests and hosts illicit traffic of every possible denomination. The three main towns, Foz do Iguazú for Brazil, Ciudad del Este for Paraguay and Puerto Iguazú for Argentina are linked by a system of bridges. In Ciudad del Est, anything can be smuggled, from electric appliances to stolen cars, from stereos to computers.
Although the Party of God is strenuously employed in Lebanon in the organization of agricultural formation courses, in an attempt to face the re-conversion of the hashish and poppy plantations, prohibited by the Lebanese State, in 1992, Hizbollah has never concerned itself with the illegal ways in which its members have procured the funds to sustain the organization. On the contrary, the drug trafficking profits, which arrive from Latin America, have always been used to solve the social problems of the Lebanese people, in order to win consensus in the country.
Affiliates and cells of Hizbollah are also active in Colombia and Venezuela; the weak governments of these areas and the loose and often uncontrolled borders, have favoured such a phenomenon.
Furthermore, the diffused narcoterrorism in that region is due to the liaison between Hizbollah and the local opposition terrorist groups such as, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
In the wake of the Hizbollah-Columbian example, links with the 'Sendero Luminoso', in Peru, have also been created.
The anti-American ideology, common to these organizations and, above all, the interest in smuggling and other illegal activities to accumulate funds have, substantially, united these different groups.
The level of cooperation between Hizbollah and these groups is still not clear even though it is important to note that in January of 2004, on the occasion of an exchange of prisoners between the Israeli authorities and Hizbollah, Ali Biro was freed: he was a Hizbollah militant and one of the most renowned Middle East drug traffickers connected with FARC.
With regard to the implications of Hizbollah in drug trafficking, one of the most recent arrests in this field, was made by the Paraguayan police in May, 2003. The man arrested was Hassan Dayub, while he was trying to send to Syria, an electric pianola, filled with cocaine. Dayub is a relative of the already mentioned Assad Barakat.
In Latin America, Hizbollah could supply ever increasing logistic and financial support, not only to Al Qaeda, but also to local groups and extend the terrorist targets from the national interests to western and American interests within and outside of South America.
Furthermore, the question of financing could become increasingly difficult to extricate: now that Hizbollah is a majority party in Lebanon, many people – and not only the Arabs – would see nothing wrong in financing a party that has done and does so much good "for the needy people of Lebanon". It will always be more difficult to discern which financing is legal and which is not.
This hypothesis is not advanced haphazardly. With the support of Iran, Hizbollah could start, through local groups, if it hasn't already, to set up in Latin America, the same strategy used in Lebanon to gain popular consensus, by providing for the citizens those things that a weak government has not been able to provide. There are numerous people in Latin America who describe Hizbollah as a "provider of welfare to the needy citizens and defender of the Lebanese rights against Israeli aggression".
Realizing the danger and in an attempt to stem the swelling consensus for the Party of God, the Spanish Government, in the wake of what had been done in France, closed down, at the end of June this year, the Hizbollah television channel al-Manar, which was transmitted to Latin America. The satellite TV company, Hispasat, through which Al Manar was transmitted is, in fact, controlled by the Spanish Government.
The previous government in Colombia, in an attempt to open a series of negotiations with FARC, had ceded to them the formal control of a strip of territory, permitting, in addition, foreign governments to furnish economic assistance to the area in question. Iran, the principle financier of Hizbollah was included in the list of foreign countries permitted to operate in the FARC controlled area and, therefore, it naturally supported the Hizbollah organization.
In the Summer of 2001, the Colombian magistracy determined a scenario of international terrorist link-ups, among which was not only a stable cooperation between FARC, ETA, IRA and a foreign legion of more than 200 terrorists of 18 different nationalities, but also Hizbollah.
At a summit meeting at Cartagena de Indias in Columbia, in October 2003, the news of a regular alliance between FARC and Al Qaeda was announced by Gordon Thomas, Irish expert of terrorism and the secret services.
Thomas spoke again on the theme, in the Columbian weekly, El Espectador, referring to the possible cooperation between Islamic extremist groups and local groups, and after the Madrid massacre of the 11th March, 2004, he accused Al Qaeda. According to Thomas, the ETA did not have the capacity to realize attacks of this nature, unless they had been helped, organized and financed by the Bin Laden organization.
Moreover, arms supplies continue to arrive in the Latin American continent. The US are very worried by the news of the signing, in March of this year in Caracas, of about 20 cooperation treaties between Iran and the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez regime, together with an agreement, ratified with Russia at the beginning of April, regarding the supply of 100 thousand Kalashnikov AK-47.
In addition, there is ever increasing talk about dormant cells of Islamic terrorist groups in other Latin American countries like, for example, the Venezuelan Island, Margarita, at Trinidad and Tobago.
Over the last months, in Haiti, members of an Islamic group, which appears to have ties with Al Qaeda, have provided instruction in the use of arms and explosives to a pro-Aristide gang, at the same time trying to convert the gang members to Islam.
In the Dominican Republic, two radical groups seeking technical and financial support, seem to have established contacts with Islamic radicals. Al Qaeda appears to have had ties in the country of Nicaragua for some time, and it is believed that it is now pushing groups to undertake terrorist attacks against the government.
According to what the German newspaper, "Der Spiegel" published in June of this year, in the south of Mexico, a veritable conversion to Islam activity is underway, conducted by many Moslems of "doubtful origins", who have carried out an activity of proselytism and have already recruited hundreds of Maya natives.
This brings up the importance of not only the FARC controlled area of Colombia, but the ability of multiple terrorist organizations to operate out of the TBA. The connections to FARC, being the dominant S. American terrorist organization, becomes an operational necessity not only so as not to cross them, but to actually get in on the narcotics and other illegal trades going on in the region (such as the emerald gangs). Not only was the PLO active in the early to mid 1980's, but so was the Syrian agent al-Kassar in his contacts with Menem and that would extend into the early 1990's as he introduced more active cells of Hezbollah into the region. These connections were firmed up in the Limits of Governability article above, to establish an official Menem cover-up with regards to al-Kassar and, in particular, his agents at the International Airport and his contacts in the Argentinean military and armaments companies. In an article on Politics, Arms and the drugs trade at SudNord News, the Menem-Pinochet connection would be examined and the necessity to remove those traces so as not to implicate the Menem regime in the expansion of Hezbollah in the region. This would also implicate Citibank of New York and Republica Bank in money laundering operations surrounding the events of 1992 and 1994. A later report at the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. 2 No. 3 would also indicate the direct linkages between al-Kassar and the bombings, as being reported on in 2000.
FARC operating in this environment garners international connections to Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, and the extended narcotics and money laundering networks of the Syrians to support far-flung operations. Additionally the experience available from the al-Kassar family gives FARC the ability to cultivate and refine opium, thus creating an indigenous supply system for their own narcotics network.
The Iranian support for the export of Hezbollah operations and training areas has multiple venues, most are relatively indirect but there is one direct venue that Iran utilizes on the commercial side: meat packing. Iran tends to ship out entire meat packing organizations wherever it is standing up Hezbollah operations and that has given pause to some governments when such a thing is proposed. In this case it is Colombia that started to realize something was going awry, as seen in this RFE/RL 1999 report at the Globalsecurity document archive:
IRANIANS OUT OF COLOMBIA. The Iranian embassy in Bogota announced on 22 December that Tehran has suspended construction of a meat-packing plant and slaughterhouse in Colombia's Demilitarized Zone, according to Spain's official EFE press agency. The embassy explained what is behind this decision: "incorrect interpretations of some authorities of the Government of Colombia" which "have created conditions in which there could not be any guarantees for the security of the investment." The Iranian Embassy would not be more specific about these "incorrect interpretations."
Colombian Defense Minister Luis Fernando Ramirez had expressed concern at the end of November that Iranian military advisers were part of the group installing the slaughterhouse, and these Iranians were somehow connected with the leftist and anti-U.S. Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which controls the DMZ. The Iranians' refusal to permit inspection of their personal effects had raised suspicions among Colombian authorities, AFP reported on 27 November. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi had dismissed Ramirez's comments, IRNA reported on 30 November.
Visbal also wondered why there was such a rush to conclude an agreement, when other negotiations had lasted for two years. According to Ambassador Hussein Sheikh Zein-ed-Din, that area was chosen because Iran wants to contribute to the Colombian peace process.
Iranian interest in that immediate region may be linked with the narcotics trade and the FARC. The FARC has extensive ties to narcotics traffickers, "principally through the provision of armed protection for coca and poppy cultivation and narcotics production facilities, as well as through attacks on government narcotics eradication efforts," according to the U.S. State Department's "Patterns of Global Terrorism." There also may a connection between the FARC and Hizballah groups that allegedly operate in the region between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.
The timing of the Iranian announcement that it is withdrawing from the Colombian meat-packing project is suspicious. On 22 December, the same day that Iran said it was pulling out of the project, security officials in Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina were visiting people they believe are linked with Hizballah and Hamas. The authorities suspected that terrorist acts were planned in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay; Foz de Yguazu, Brazil; and Puerto Yguazu, Argentina; according to Asuncion's ABC Color. Among the people the authorities visited was a suspected member of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security. (Bill Samii)
That is the TBA for those locations, so having Iranians visiting folks there when pulling out of a commercial project linked to FARC is not what one would call 'auspicious'. It was in this same time period that Colombia was closing in on Pablo Escobar of the Medellin Cartel. Steven Monblatt writing for the OAS ezine in Vol. IV, No.2 - FEB/MAR 2004 on Terrorism and Drugs in the Americas, examines the fall of the Medellin Drug Cartel and the rise of FARC to encompass the entire drug operation from farming to distribution. From that he looks at the Hezbollah based drug operations as they have been seen in S. America:
Hezbollah’s drug connections are also not widely discussed, and probably not well known. Officials in several countries have documented complicated trade patterns involving illicit shipments of coca paste through the Tri-border region to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, the center of Hezbollah’s influence. For example, in May 2003 Paraguayan police arrested Hassan Dayoub while he was preparing to ship an electric piano containing more than five pounds of cocaine to Syria.
A brief aside: Dayoub is a relative of Assad Barakat, a well known Hezbollah fund-raiser, currently in jail in Paraguay for tax evasion. It is important to note that Paraguay does not yet have a law outlawing terrorist fund-raising. When Paraguayan police raided Barakat’s electronics store in Ciudad del Este, they seized a pile of documents, including a letter from Hezbollah acknowledging receipt of $3,535,149 from him in 2000. In later raids, the police found a letter to Barakat from Hezbollah’s secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, thanking him for contributions to a project helping the children of Hezbollah men killed fighting Israel. Police claimed they found dozens of receipts for donations to what “appeared” to be Hezbollah’s military wing. Carlos Altenburger, head of the Paraguayan police’s anti-terrorist unit, told reporters: “We believe he has sent some $50 million to Hezbollah since 1995.” Other officials have said Barakat traveled at least once a year to Lebanon, where he met Nasrallah and other senior Hezbollah officials, and hosted Hezbollah visitors in the tri-border area.
Finally, in January of this year, Israeli authorities negotiated a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah. One of the freed Hezbollah militants was Ali Biro, one of biggest drug dealers in the mid-east, who is alleged to maintain ties with the FARC. Which completes the drug/terrorism circle. The former Government of Colombia, in its attempt to bring the FARC to negotiations, ceded to the FARC formal control of a wide swath of territory, and allowed foreign governments to provide economic assistance to the region. Iran – Hezbollah’s principal financial supporter – was included in the mix of foreign entities operating in FARC-controlled areas and supporting the FARC movement. Today, Colombia exports not only cocaine but heroin from opium poppies, and poppies are not indigenous to South America, though they are found widely throughout the Middle East.
This starts to close up the operational parts of FARC and Hezbollah, particularly on the shipping and distribution side of things via the release of Ali Biro. Hezbollah's operation, itself, while nowhere near the size of FARC, is significant in the amount of funding that is *extra* that can be sent back to Lebanon, beyond the narcotics themselves. On the other side of the equation the Free Lebanon site takes a look at the incoming drug traffic from South America circa the mid-1980's when the Cartels were the main source of narcotics and FARC worked:
With its multiple international ramifications from Lebanon to Switzerland passing through Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Italy, and the United States, the Lebanese connection encompasses a large number of drug networks throughout the world, such as the Colombian cocaine mafia. The South-Americans, particularly Colombia, Bolivia, and Brazil, are also implicated in the Lebanese drug traffic. One of the simplest methods is the use of embassies located in Damascus. The Lebanese drug is dispatched to Damascus, delivered to highly qualified people in the concerned country's embassy and dispatched to that country by diplomatic mail.
Some Lebanese implicated in the Lebanese connection the brothers Jean and Barghev Magharian, were arrested in Switzerland July 7, 1987. The two Lebanese were staying at Hotel Nova in Zurich and were known as moneychangers. The working permit of both had expired in 1985. Moreover, on November 27, 1986, three suitcases containing some 3 million dollars were discovered at the Los Angeles airport. The American investigators established that this money came from the Colombian drug traffic and was destined for the Magharian brothers. The DEA and the FBI had discovered that considerable sums of money had been transferred several times from the United States to Zurich for the two brothers. The sums dispatched amounted to one billion dollars. Part of this money formed the object of Bank transactions, while several hundreds of millions of Swiss francs were dispatched clandestinely from Turkey via Bulgaria. From Sofia, these funds reached Switzerland by airplane. It was likewise established that 30 million dollars from the sale of Colombian cocaine wound up in the hands of the Magharian brothers via California. The accrued narco-dollars were then placed into numerous bank accounts, especially in Geneva and in Tessin. The investigation brought out as well that enormous sums of money originating in Bulgaria or arriving directly from Lebanon were destined for societies located in Switzerland. On August 30, 1987, the Italian navy seized, near the coast of Bari, an old armed cargo ship carrying a Lebanese flag, the "Boustany One". On board, they discovered an anti-tank rocket launcher, a Soviet RPG, an American missile, 2kgs of heroin and 15kgs of hashish. The Italian police arrested 32 people. Among them: the directors of an import-export company, an intermediary of Canadian origin and two Italian mafiosi.
The weapons were destined for a terrorist network operating in Europe that financed its activities thanks to the drug traffic. The boat, whose proprietor was a Greek ship-owner, could fly a Lebanese flag under the name of "Boustany One", but also an Honduras flag under the name of "Good Luck". When leaving Italy, the ship transported in its hold to Iran via Syria, anti-personal mines destined officially for Spain or Nigeria. The mines were fabricated by a company in Brescia, La Valsella Meccanoteonica, whose co-owner with FIAT was Count Ferdinando Borletti, one of the most well-known Italian industrialist.
There are times when the simplicity of how such goods get out of close scrutiny is really flooring: just have a ship dual registered and what is illegal under one flag becomes legal under another! Still, this serves as a recognition of early contacts made in Colombia soon after the arrival of al-Kassar with Menem during the run-up to the Presidential elections in Argentina. Most sources have placed his trips to Syria in this timeframe, and al-Kassar had already made in-roads via Iran/Contra to the region, plus his utilization of a false Brazilian identity indicates some knowledge of the region.
Beyond FARC there are the Hezbollah ties to the other backer of FARC: Hugo Chavez. In a Venezuela Today article of 02 SEP 2006 by Gustavo Coronel (Google Cache, will disappear), the connections between Chavez and Hezbollah are examined as he helps Hezbollah to establish a new group on the border with Colombia:
On the Venezuelan side of the Guajira Peninsula, a territory shared with Colombia, the members of the tribe of the Wayuu walk across political boundaries without restrain. They were there before Venezuela and Colombia existed and they think of themselves as a nation. Recently a disturbing group has appeared, as alien visitors, in their desert landscape: Hezbollah. The Islamic fanatics of Hezbollah are rapidly infiltrating the tribe of the Wayuu. They are indoctrinating the members of this tribe, to convert them into Islamic fanatics in charge of disseminating the terrorist message that has already created chaos, death and misery in the Middle East. The Hezbollah group invading Venezuela is doing its work openly in the Venezuelan side of the Guajira Peninsula. They are disseminating, via Internet, a strategy "to change Venezuela," including:
Total destruction "of the sex industry" (whatever that means),
Attacking the upper classes, "who are the most corrupt," all white-collar criminals and continuing the cleaning downwards,
Attacking corruption in government (not such a bad idea) and in the masses, both civilians and military,
Attacking false idols and satanic cults, as defined by them.
The logo adorning the main page and document is an AK-47 rifle. The propaganda appearing on the Web presence of the Venezuelan subsidiary of Hezbollah talks about installing the kingdom of God in Venezuela by imposing a military-theocratic type of government, an explosive mixture similar to what already exists in Iran. It claims: "The brief enjoyment of life on earth is selfish. The other life is better for those who follow Allah." Where have we heard this before? In the leaflets that encourage the suicide missions of children and teenagers in Palestine.
Is the Venezuelan Hezbollah for real or is just the product of pranksters with a macabre sense of humor? Available photographs suggest they are for real. This ghoulish presence in Venezuelan territory certainly deserves an immediate investigation and decisive action but the problem is that Chávez is supporting Hezbollah in the Middle East and will most probably support their criminal work in Venezuela. Would the U.N. or the OAS take note?
There is a difference between home-grown terror groups in Colombia, like the ELN, showing up, and ones started by outside organizations finding their way into the country. The indigenous start-ups would pose a threat, but understandable from a national perspective, but an external one would need to have some kind of understanding so as not to cause friction, so the presence of a new Hezbollah franchise and getting no response from FARC indicates that high-level agreement is in place.
Hugo Chavez is also cited as giving direct aid to FARC in The Jamestown Foundation Eurasia Daily Monitor report of 17 FEB 2005:
There can be no doubt of Chavez's support for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) or the blind eye he has turned to terrorists who seek to use Venezuela as a transit point or as a sanctuary. Indeed, he has given them Venezuelan passports so that they can travel freely around the world. Chavez also is a protege of Fidel Castro and talks regularly of organizing a Latin American counter-bloc to Washington, which he accuses, quite fantastically, of seeking to invade Venezuela.
Chavez turned to Moscow for 40 Mi-35 helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles. Other reports state that Chavez wants to buy 50 MiG-29s, anti-tank weapons, and air defense weapons as well. While Venezuela's arsenals may be obsolete, purchases of this magnitude, plus a reputed desire to buy $5 billion in weapons from Russia, China, Ukraine, and planes from Brazil by 2010, suggest that Chavez is prey to a megalomania borne of enormous oil revenues and a desire to emulate his mentor Castro. While he certainly has grounds to fear U.S. policy, he and everyone else knows that no invasion is even remotely in the cards. Moreover, there is probably no way Venezuela could even begin to maintain -- or even operate -- this arsenal.
Therefore both Washington and Bogota have good reason to fear that these weapons will be given to the FARC or to other terrorists operating in South America, notably Bolivia. The arms purchase is all part of Chavez's plan to create a populist or neo-Castroite counter-bloc to Washington. Such a bloc would seek to destabilize the pro-American government in Colombia and use FARC as a preferred method of doing so, no doubt with Castro's blessing and support. Indeed, Venezuela has virtually subcontracted its intelligence and domestic security forces to Cuba.
Russia's motives are clear. Moscow aspires to dominate the Latin American arms market, register its anger with Washington, and show that it is a power to be reckoned with even if it directly supports terrorists. Nor would this be the first time that Russian-made weapons might end up with the FARC. It has never been explained how a Kilo-class submarine wound up in Colombia in 2000.
I am pretty sure that Russian submarines just don't navigate themselves to foreign ports. As the USSR went through front-nations, such as Algeria in the 1980's, so, too, does it use reliable intermediaries today, such as Belarus. An an article in Democratic Belarus from 12 MAY 2008 shows the type of deal that Chavez was trying to work for FARC:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez allegedly tried to arm Colombian rebels with help from Belarus, the El Pais newspaper reported Saturday, citing documents from the computer of a slain rebel leader.
The Spanish daily quoted a February 8 e-mail from Ivan Marquez, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), saying Chavez had considered with Belarussian authorities the possibility of providing weapons to FARC.
The e-mail was alleged to have been found in the seized computer of FARC second-in-command Raul Reyes, who was killed in March, El Pais said.
The partially coded message mentioned someone identified only as "friend of Belarus," who El Pais identified as Victor Sheiman, secretary of the Belarus Security Council and a close associate of Alexander Lukashenko, the hardline president of the former Soviet republic.
El Pais added that other possible arms sources for FARC, particularly ground-to-air missiles, were mentioned in computer messages, including contacts with "Australian traffickers".
What is fascinating about this is that Monzer al-Kassar was caught in a sting operation last year by the US and Spain via having their agents appear to be coming from FARC. On 08 JUN 2007 the DEA put out a press release looking at the operation:
DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy and Michael J. Garcia, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced today the arrest of Monzer al Kassar, a/k/a “Abu Munawar,” a/k/a “El Taous,” an international arms dealer charged with conspiring to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) -- a designated foreign terrorist organization -- to be used to kill Americans in Colombia.
Kassar, along with co-defendants Tareq Mousa al Ghazi and Luis Felipe Moreno-Godoy were arrested yesterday as they prepared to finalize the multimillion-dollar transaction to pay for the weapons. Kassar was arrested on the U.S. charges by Spanish authorities in Madrid; simultaneously Ghazi and Moreno-Godoy were arrested in Romania.
Between February 2006 and May 2007, Kassar, Ghazi, and Moreno-Godoy agreed to sell to the FARC millions of dollars worth of weapons + - including thousands of machine guns, millions of rounds of ammunition, rocket-propelled grenade launchers (RPGs), and surface-to-air missile systems (SAMs). During a series of recorded telephone calls, emails, and in-person meetings, Kassar, Ghazi, and Moreno-Godoy agreed to sell the weapons to two confidential sources (CS) working with the DEA, who represented that they were acquiring these weapons for the FARC, with the specific understanding that the weapons were to be used to attack United States helicopters in Colombia.
During their consensually recorded meetings, Kassar, Ghazi, and Moreno-Godoy provided the CSs with, among other things: (1) a schematic of the vessel to be used to transport the weapons; (2) specifications for the SAMs they agreed to sell to the FARC; and (3) bank accounts in Spain and Lebanon that were ultimately used to conceal more than $400,000 from DEA undercover accounts that the CSs represented, and Kassar, Ghazi, and Moreno-Godoy believed, were FARC drug proceeds for the weapons deal. During their meetings with the CSs, Kassar, Ghazi, and Moreno-Godoy reviewed Nicaraguan end-user certificates that were used to make the weapons deal appear legitimate. Kassar also promised to provide the FARC with ton-quantities of C4 explosives, as well as expert trainers from Lebanon to teach the FARC how to effectively use C4 and improvised explosive devices (commonly referred to as "IEDs"). In addition, Kassar offered to send a thousand men to fight with the FARC against United States military officers in Colombia.
Part of Counter-Insurgency operations is to penetrate insurgent networks and utilize them to further erode the support of the insurgents. This is normally done in a direct fashion, against the insurgents themselves, but going after their direct supporters is also a good way to erode operational capability and morale of insurgents. In this case a relatively high level operative was either compromised or identified via other means and reasonable substitute put in his place. One doesn't gain entry to such organizations as al-Kassar's without some positive validation from known sources as the organized crime and terrorist networks are inherently trust-based. For the US and Spain to operate such a high level sting operation requires just such a compromise of the trust network between FARC and one of its suppliers.
Another FARC arms supplier, Victor Bout, went down in a similar operation in Thailand, as reported by Polonia Today on 20 MAR 2008:
"Officially, Bout fell into a trap arranged by American special services. But, in fact, he had been ‘pointed for a shot’ in Thailand by the FSB (the Russian Security Service). At the same time, FSB agents were hurriedly liquidating his base in Bulgaria." [From another source, AIA: "The old ties have come into the limelight this week for another reason: Russian arms trader Victor Bout, who supposedly had excellent contacts to the Soviet and later to the Russian secret service, had delivered a load of weapons worth several hundred million dollars to Bulgaria just before he was arrested on March 6."] "According to the official version, Bout, looked for in the whole world, fell into the hands of the Thai special services and was arrested with his accomplice, Andrew Smulian, when he tried to strike a deal to sell weapons to the Colombian FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia]. But there is also another, closer to the truth version of Major Bout’s giveaway. Somebody in the Kremlin has decided to wind up a protective umbrella over the most wanted international criminals. Mogilevich and Bout, used before in many actions, became useless ballast to the new ‘tsarevich’— Medvedev [Putin’s successor]."
Later on, Bout fled to Moscow because the FBI, the Interpol and many Western secret services were hunting him everywhere. Why would he allow himself take a great risk and go to Thailand to make a deal with the (alleged) Colombian FARC guerillas?
The answer could be found in a most recent report, published by Bruce Falconer on March 18, 2008, and entitled "Victor Bout’s Last Deal": "The decision to use the FARC to target Bout’s operation was not without precedent. In 2006, the same DEA unit nabbed Syrian arms dealer Monzer al-Kassar, the so-called ‘Prince of Marbella,’ at Madrid’s international airport after ensnaring him in a bogus multimillion-dollar deal to supply weapons and explosives to the FARC. Al-Kassar remains in a Spanish jail, awaiting extradition to the United States. The sting that put him there was almost identical to the one that would later snag Bout. How could the Russian, renowned for the care he took in ensuring his own security, have fallen for the same trick? In Bout’s case, another factor may have come into play, namely that the FARC really was trying to acquire the types of weapons and equipment he was known to provide."
But even if Bout had some good reasons to sell Bulgarian IGLA missiles and other weapons to the FARC, "immediately available" at his stores in Burgas and Plovdiv, why his Russian intelligence protectors (and business partners) did not avert him from a possible trap in Bangkok? The only logical answer is the following: his high Kremlin protectors wanted to "dump" him. And they really did that with the help of the American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Again, the DEA is at least actively utilizing its knowledge base even if the motivator was forces in Moscow needing to have Bout taken out of circulation. Either way you cut it, Bout had either grown lazy or over-confident and was picked up by a *second* sting operation to get the exact, same type of weapons that al-Kassar was supposed to get.
Today FARC is at the pointed end of Plan Colombia, which is a COIN operation between the US and Colombia, along with other S. American countries, to slowly shut down FARC's capabilities and dissolve its operational base out from under it. In many ways this is near classical COIN on the '8-10 year half-life' as FARC (unlike al Qaeda or JaM in Iraq) is horrifically well financed and supported by multiple external organizations. That said having Raul Reyes go down in a way that yielded up significant operational data to law enforcement is a hard blow to take, along with the ability of the DEA to utilize some form of knowledge base to undermine FARC supporters overseas. With al-Kassar and Bout taken out, however, the ability to use whatever information they have on FARC will probably diminish as other suppliers look to get direct assurances from FARC leadership on any deals. That does, of course, leave them exposed if those communication channels are compromised...
I will wrap this portion of the FARC Connections at that. There is much more material to present on FARC's influence outside of Colombia, but this covers the major external supporters from early on in FARC's history to the present.