Skip to comments.Insider Speaks: "Chavez's $1M To Al Qaeda Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg"
Posted on 02/20/2003 4:17:48 PM PST by aculeus
"I was close to Chavez, but now he wants me dead."
The million dollars from Chavez to Al Qaeda is just the tip of the iceberg in a long series of connections between worldwide terrorist organizations and the Venezuelan strongman, according to one of those who knows most about Chavez and the inside of his presidential palace: His former personal pilot. Major Juan Diaz Castillo is the man who flew the equivalent of Air Force One. In this interview with Venezuela's weekly news-magazine Zeta, he reveals formerly unpublished details of the operations that Chavez had him organize. By Maria Angelica Correa, in Washington
Juan Diaz Castillo is a major in the Venezuelan Air Force. He graduated from the Air Force Military Academy July 5, 1986, taking second place of the Order of Merit in the Class of Juan Crisostomo Ledezma Santaella. Sixteen years later, in October 2002, he declared himself in civil disobedience and joined the military resistance movement for free and democratic elections in Venezuela.
It seems like every one of the officers who joined the resistance and declared civil disobedience in Plaza Altamira had a piece of an enormous puzzle. As they joined forces, and each officer started putting the pieces together, a surprising picture started appearing.
A million dollars from the Chavez government to the Taliban government of post-9/11 Afghanistan is one of the cases linking the Venezuelan regime to terrorism states and to sponsors of terrorism.
"We know that Marquez worked with the Taliban government"
Zeta: " - How do you know that Diosdado Cabello sent this money to the Venezuelan ambassador in India?" Diaz Castillo: " - First, because I was present at the meetings where everything was coordinated, and this was where the decision was taken. Second, because as the events transcurred, we got a positive answer from ambassador Walter Marquez. He confirmed that he had received the money and it was mentioned in the press. He himself gave these press interviews. We have the press clippings here. They are publicly available, so he can not deny this. And, what's more: Not only the ambassador told the press, even the president himself did so, which proves that it happened. Chavez specifically mentioned Walter Marquez's name, both on TV and in the press. Of course, they did not say it was for the Taliban and for Al Qaeda. They said it was humanitarian aid for the government of Afghanistan. But the government of Afghanistan in those days was the Taliban, the radical islamist regime which harbored Bin Laden and Al Qaeda."
" - How was the transfer made?
" - It was done through the normal financing channels, just as when the Foreign Ministry sends money to the various Venezulan embassies. There are various ways of doing this; one is the transfer of ordinary funds, but there is also a route for additional money. This is completely normal and would not raise any eyebrows. Sometimes an embassy asks for an additional transfer because of an activity, a visit ... normally there is money available for that. Through this method, the Afghanistan money was sent."
" - Was this the reason that an ambassador was chosen?"
" - An ambassador was chosen because he was the Venezuelan government official who was closest to the area. Because, before the ambassador, the idea was than an emissary should go to Pakistan and from there start the operation. But, because there was an ambassador nearby and that he was willing to do it, while we were in the planning stage, we decided that it was easier to let him do it."
" - Is there no Venezuelan representation in Pakistan or in Afganistan?"
" - No, there never was. The closest embassy is the one in India."
" - Did you yourself know the logistics of how the ambassador would get the money to Al Qaeda?"
" - We have a series of documents that we have been sharing with the appropriate international authorities. They determine the truth of this evidence."
" - There being proof, would the strongest be the steps that ambassador Marquez took to have the money reach the Taliban government?"
" - Naturally. And this is why he is denying it today. The Venezuelan government even set up a cover story, using separate funds, for involving UNHCR. But despite the cover, remember that sometimes there are acts which the whole world sees, and of those, you must count the very visible and notorious act of open solidarity that the Chavez government took with certain terrorist events."
" - How did Walter Marquez deliver this money? Do you know if he sent an emissary or ordered it transferred?" " - There was a direct line of communication between Walter Marquez and the collaborators that he uses and the Taliban government. There is proof of this. Plus, for the cover story, Citibank was used."
" - So, embassy employees were involved too?"
" - Yes. We have their names. If the case goes to court in the United States, certain persons will be called as witnesses. We will not call them in a Venezuelan kangaroo court, because we can not guarantee their safety there. I also think it is important to note that there was no direct contact to Al Qaeda, as far as we can tell. The contacts was always by way of the Taliban government."
" - But, of the one million, there was a smokescreen for humanitarian aid?"
" - Humanitarian help with a value of one hundred thousand dollars was for the Taliban to keep. The remaining nine hundred thousand was for Al Qaeda."
Chavez wanted to send troops to Afghanistan
" - Can you tell us more about the $900,000?"
" - Chavez originally wanted to do much more than just send money to Afghanistan. He wanted to help with a military presence: Venezuelan troops on Afghan soil, helping the Taliban of course, and not the U.S. forces ... or, as Chavez put it, helping the Afghan people in a spirit of solidarity and humanitarian assistance. That was the first idea that came to his mind, but also the first idea to be abandones, for obvious reasons. We studied the proposal and came to the conclusion that it was simply not feasible to send one hundred men there. In fact, we concluded that it was actually inhumane to send the Venezuelan soldiers over there."
" - Venezuelan soldiers in Afghanistan? Explain that."
" - The first instructions I got was that we would be sending one hundred men to Afghanistan, one hundred troops, in a sort of company, speaking in military terms. They would go with their officers, basically to make up a presence on Afghan soil, to help the people of Afghanistan. But this supposed help had a political undertone. Don't forget that Afghanistan at the time was the Taliban, and the Taliban was facing the U.S. invasion. By sending Venezuelan military there, Chavez wanted to show the world which side he was on. He did not want to fight the U.S., but he wanted the world to see that he was standing up to the U.S. - apparently he figured that he could get important political capital out of that.
But when we started planning the logistics, we found out that it would be nearly impossible in practical terms to make it happen. Apart from the 100 soldiers, we also needed to carry another 40 men from Civil Defense plus we needed to transport cargo. All told, we needed three 330 airplanes and something like 35 hours in the air, continously. This would be impossible without stops for refueling. Now, the conditions in which a Hercules travels are not the best. I suggested to Chavez that we should fly just eight hours at a strech, with stops for refueling. That would give us approximately four separate legs of the journey. Basically, we calculated that it would take us between three and four days to get our men from Venezuela to Afghanistan. And not just that. They would travel three or four days, in poor conditions not fit for human transport. In a Hercules, since it is a cargo plane, there are no formal seats and no bathroom, no food facility, and due to the altitude, it is cold. The plane is not heated in the cargo hold. So think about it: our troops would be arriving on the other side of the world, in a hostile war-torn climate, after having travelled in totally exhausting conditions for many days. They would arrive too tired to complete a mission which was not even clearly defined. In Afghanistan, we already knew that the International Red Cross had their own people on the ground, and Afghan government officials. So we came to the conclusion that it was best to just send a small group or a single person there, in a commercial plane, with money for whatever was needed. Rather than sending Venezuelan military there."
" - So, did that one person or a small group go instead?"
" - No, that too was changed. The ambassador in India offered to handle the contacts, so when he became part of the plan, we decided not to send anyone from Caracas."
" - When you still wanted to send troops to Afghanistan, was it going to be official?"
" - Yes, of course. Chavez even announced his intention of doing so in his weekly TV program Alo Presidente in late September, 2001. You can get a transcript of that program and a lot of curious surprises will appear. For instance, he said that the United States deserved the attack, that they had brought it upon themselves. He also called the U.S. president a criminal, and accused him of killing children. He talked about the help that he was going to give to the Afghan people. Chavez also offered to receive Afghan refugees in Venezuela. We think that we he really wanted to do was to harbor Al Qaeda, under the guise of them pretending to be Afghan refugees. In in fact, they got the message. Because in the months that followed, an increasing number of Arabs came to Venezuela and found a safe haven here. Some even got new identity papers, from the Venezuelan government. None of them were refugees, but rather radical islamist. He received people from a group which was already accused of terrorism by the U.S. and this is a problem that Venezuela is still suffering from."
Bin Laden is Chavez's hero
" - Apart from Al Qaeda, can you name other terrorist groups that Chavez to your knowledge has helped?" " - The links that Chavez has established with well known worldwide terrorist groups are notorious. Directly or through Fidel Castro, Chavez has contact to major terrorist leaders worldwide. The groups that he most works with, however, are the leftist Colombian guerrillas. FARC, in particular, is a favorite of his. We have a big problem in Venezuela, and it is the civil war in Colombia. There is strongly documented proof that Hugo Chavez has given all sorts of help to these terrorist cells. He has given them weapons, financing, and has let them have training camps on the Venezuelan side of the border. What's more, several of their leaders have found a safe haven in Venezuela, and he has met with many of the guerilla bosses in Caracas, with his DISIP secret service acting as their personal bodyguards. These terrorists enter the country through the airport and pass undetected through immigration. They have inside help by Chavez."
" - We have seen information about radical islamist terrorist organizations operating out of Margarita. Is that true?"
" - Yes, absolutely. The military resisters in the pro-democracy opposition movement have compiled a dossier with information about this. General Marcos Ferreira has, with proof, fully documented how muslim terror groups entered the country and how Chavez harbored them. Various individuals from guerilla and terrorist organizations have been given Venezuelan passports and cedulas by the Chavez regime."
" - Do you know what happened to Hakim Mamad Ali Diab Fattah? [Hakim Mamad Ali Diab Fattah was an Arab with connections to the 9/11-bombing who, among other things, trained at New Jersey flight schools along with Hani Hanjour who crashed the American Airlines flight into the Pentagon. After Hakim Mamad Ali Diab Fattah was detained by the FBI, he flew to Venezuela on Delta flight # 397, and was helped enter the country by Venezuela's DISIP Secret Police without passing through immigration.]"
" - He is currently safe in Venezuelan territory, specifically Margarita. We are blowing the whistle on the way that Chavez helps radical muslim terrorists. Hakim Mamad Ali Diab Fattah was given refuge by the Venezuelan government. They are harboring him, and many other highly trained operatives. But officially, as far as border control is concerned, this individual and many others are not even in the country. He entered with government help and bypassed the normal controls so that no record of his presence would appear. Now the government should explain why they are doing this. In cases like these, what is it exactly that Venezuela is covering up? Explain this not just to Venezuela's own citizens, but to the world, because these individuals have strong and proven terrorist connections and it is hard to comprehend why Chavez would want to shelter them like this. Just give us an explanation."
" - For how long have you been an eye-witness to Venezuela's government connections with known terrorist groups?"
" - From September 2001 onwards. I thought it was strange that he would give these sort of orders, and have us work on plans like helping the Taliban regime in Afghanistan."
" - But when was the first time?"
" - I personally found out only in September 2001. I think this was when Chavez realized the importance of terrorism in world politics."
" - What did you hear about Al Qaeda at that time?"
" - Chavez was impressed with the 9/11 attacks, it was clear that he admired this great master stroke, and he also admired Osama Bin Laden as a person, in fact, Bin Laden was like an idol to him. I was personally disturbed and puzzled by this. In fact, I even thought for a while that Hugo Chavez was joking. But after the million dollars was sent, I found out that he wasn't. Chavez was deadly serious."
" - From what you could tell, from your presence in the meetings, what was the purpose of the help that Chavez wanted to give?"
" - A number of those of us who participated discovered that Chavez had ulterior motives which went far beyond merely a desire to help those leaders [the Taliban, and Osama Bin Laden]. I would call it a compulsive obsessions, like the attitude which you expect from a person who is not normal and mentally stable. And this coming from a country who has no relations whatsoever with Afghanistan, and no sort of involvement at all in any of the issues that those people were dealing with."
" - What were Chavez's compulsive obsessions about?"
" - He wanted to get close to those leaders."
" - There is evidence of terrorist cells in Panama, in northern Brazil, and in Margarita which is Venezuelan territory. When you talk about getting close, what type of closeness do you refer to?"
" - Simply the contacts that have been established, and the continuation of a future working relationship. What else could be expected?"
" - What other Chavez-activities, related to national or international terrorism, do you possess knowledge of?" " - Too many to mention, so let me give you just the more important highlights: Arms trafficking from Asia to the Colombian narco-terrorists. The help given to radical Middle Eastern networks, and harboring muslim terrorists. Assistance and advice between these terrorist groups and the Venezuelan government. Training of Venezuelan government employees in Libya, Argelia and Syria, which are countries known as state sponsors of terrorism."
" - You mentioned arms trafficking from Asia. Where, speficially?"
" - From various parts of Asia, but mostly Chinese-made."
" - What is the Chavez connection to China?"
" - Extremely significant. It is not coincidence that Chavez meets with the top of the Chinese leadership so easily and so often. He has been to China more than once and the Chinese president has toured Venezuela, too. Remember that the Chavez government keeps huge sums of money in Chinese banks, specifically in Shanghai and Hong Kong. In turn, China has invested more in Venezuela than in all other Latin American countries combined."
" - How do you know that the illegal weapons came from China?"
" - Thanks to investigations that some of us made. For instance, another one of the dissident military officers is the man who was the head of all transport shipping on the Orinoco River until November 2002. When we came together in Plaza Altamira, we each had different inside knowledge and we then started putting the pieces together. A disturbing picture emerged. The puzzle is still not complete, but we know enough to say with absolute certainty that what is known so far about the Chavez terrorist connections is just the tip of the iceberg."
" - In your opinion, to which extent does Chavez aid and abet international terrorism?"
" - The help that Chavez gives to terrorism is enormous. In his first year of taking power, Chavez became a penpal with one of the founders of violent Middle Eastern terrorism, Carlos The Jackal. Chavez himself wanted to be a guerilla fighter. He considers terrorism to be a worldwide guerilla movement. This is why he expresses solidarity and offers help to terrorists: He considers himself to be one of their kind. Now, remember also that the million dollars for Al Qaeda is merely one single item of proof. It is by no means the only evidence. When you start investigating, you will find that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Chavez has consciously helped not just Al Qaeda, but several other terrorist organizations. I can name at least five: Al Qaeda, ELN, EPL, ETA and FARC. But judging from the information which the Militares Democraticos resistance movement is now collecting in Plaza Altamira, they are by no means the only ones. By the time we get to the bottom of this, I fully expect to see at least a dozen of the world's major terrorist organizations represented. They are all receiving financing and other assistance from the Hugo Chavez regime."
"Stop or I will shoot you"
" - Besides Diosdado Cabello, who were present in the planning meetings?"
" - Jose Vicente Rangel and representatives of the presidential Ministerio de Secretaria."
" - Can you give me the names of some of those with lower ranks?"
" - I can, but this is not about a witch-hunt. Right now, it is important to focus on the big players, because they are the ones who gave the orders. People like Jose Vicente Rangel, Diosdado Cabello, and Hugo Chavez. The others are just following orders. In Venezuela's armed forces and in the ministries, if we start to look for who is guilty, all of us are guilty in one way or another. But that is the wrong way to handle this. Because lots of people are just doing their job. They don't particularly want to support terrorists, but they do what they are told or they will lose their job ... or worse. So they carry out the orders, regardless of whether or not they agree with them. In my case, I personally worked until the 26th of October 2002, assigned to active duty for the presidential Airbus. And if you start to look at my work, I myself also took part in irregularities, but so have everyone else who is working for the Venezuelan government under Chavez, and I fully understand why some of my colleagues prefer to not come forward. We all just followed orders. I don't think it is right to point fingers or assign responsibilities at those who just carried out what the leaders at the top ordered them to do."
" - Have you flown a terrorist?"
" - To my knowledge, no. As pilots, we have very little information about the passengers in the planes we fly. In my case, as the presidential pilot, I can say that others handled the passengers. However, I have eyes in my head, and I can tell you that very often we carried passengers who were armed. They brought their weapons into the cabin with them, and this was not something I was very fond out. On some occasions, I was even forced to fly with armed passengers present in the cockpit itself."
" - Are you aware that the Chavez government today considers you their enemy?"
" - Of course. They don't want the truth to come out. I was close to Chavez, but now he wants me dead. On December 16th, 2002, I was in a car with General Nestor Gonzalez on the Caracas-Valencia freeway, and we were being followed by DISIP Secret Police patrols. They wanted us to pull over at a very isolated spot. I tried to speed up so that we could get close to the toll booths which is an area where there would be people around and therefore witnesses. But six DISIP patrol cars intercepted us, more or less 20 uniformed officers. I was driving. One of the patrol cars pulled up next to me, and a DISIP officer pointed his machinegun straight at my head and violently yelled 'STOP or I will shoot you!' So I had to stop. When we faced the officer in charge, he was very nervous and sweating. Other people started arriving too. This was right on the main freeway of Venezuela. All of a sudden, out of the blue, he told us 'Leave, quickly'. It is clear that even inside the most secret security forces, there are split loyalties. Some officers want to follow orders, but most are on our side without clearly saying so. They had orders to arrest us, and shoot us dead if we tried escaping."
" - You are risking your life by making the terrorist revelations public. Why are you doing this?"
" - This is not about me personally, it is just about reaching the goal of the Democratic resistance movement. Our goal is for free and democratic elections in Venezuela, nothing else. We want Venezuela to wake up from the nightmare that started when Chavez got power in 1998."
This page from www.MilitaresDemocraticos.com is part of the civil disobedience struggle for freedom and democracy in Venezuela. Spread the word: Copy and re-distribute this page!
This fool Chavez and his henchmen must be liquidated...
Retro ping for a good and interesting post.
Bump with thanks.
Very interesting read. Many thanks.............
Yer welcome bump back.
Pat should kept his mouth shut.
Muchas gracias for your post.
This fool Chavez and his henchmen must be liquidated
Pat Robertson is right. Maybe we could all contribute and get "The DOG" to do the job.