Skip to comments.Terror Threat from Venezuela: Al Queda Involved
Posted on 12/27/2002 11:19:14 AM PST by shanec
Terror Threat from Venezuela: Al Queda Involved
At 9:29 p.m. on March 8, 2002, Hakim Mamad Ali Diab Fattah landed at Venezuela's Simón Bolívar International Airport on board Delta Flight 397. The Venezuelan-born Arab had been the subject of international surveillance because he had taken lessons at two New Jersey flight schools attended by Hani Hanjour, who crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
The FBI had arrested Fattah in the United States after discovering that he also had talked about blowing up an airliner and had used forged identity documents. Information about him was requested from Venezuela's internal security service, Direccion de Inteligencia Seguridad y Prevencion (DISIP). But little was forthcoming other than psychiatric records showing that he was a diagnosed schizophrenic who had failed to attend therapy for more than a year.
Top-level members of Venezuela's security services now are shedding some light on the mystery. General Marcos Ferreira, who recently resigned as director of the Venezuelan national guard's border control, Departamento de Extranjeria (DIEX), says that DISIP picked up Fattah directly from the plane and escorted him into a waiting car parked on the runway.
Fattah represents the tip of an iceberg, according to security officials, confirming that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been setting up a terrorist regime to undermine the constitution of the oil-rich South American country. A dedicated disciple of Fidel Castro, Chavez is plugging international terrorist networks into the country's security services, financial system and state corporations as part of his plans to clone Cuba's revolution and turn Venezuela into a terrorist base. Supporters of Al Queda are involved, as are FARC, and ELN. All three organizations are designated as terrorist groups in the report Patterns of Global Terrorism, United States Department of State, May 2002.
But that is not enough for Hugo Chavez. The president's scheme also involves government-sponsored armed militias, or Circulos Bolivarianos, modeled on Cuba's Revolutionary Defense Committees. These militias are taking over police stations around the Venezuelan capital of Caracas and invading the facilities of the state-run oil company, PDVSA. The president of the later is an ex-communist guerrilla leader, Ali Rodriguez Araque, a.k.a. "Comandante Fausto".
The blueprint follows Chile of Salvador Allende, with many of the same actors on the scene. There, a democratically-elected president also used the vote to turn himself into a dictator, imported thousands of Cuban paramilitaries to overthrow the constitution and establish a Marxist-Leninist regime which was not what the voters had originally expected when they put him in power. Cuba is the ever-present present menace.
Cuba's Direccion General de Inteligencia (DGI) special-operations teams already are positioned at the port of La Guaira, according to Venezuelan navy sources, who report that Cuban undercover agents are using the local merchant-marine school. Rear Admiral Oscar Betancourt reports that they are studying Venezuela's oil-tanker fleet as part of contingency plans to prepare for commandeering of some of the tankers by a Venezuelan intelligence officer. A Cuban special-assault unit is occupying the second and third floors of the now-closed former Sheraton Hotel in La Guaira.
During the last few weeks, Chavez has moved to control the military high command with his closest acolytes. Gen. Luis Garcia Carneiro, who has been leading the Caracas-based 3rd Infantry Division in operations to disarm the metropolitan police, is now the effective head of the army.
Arab terrorists and Colombian narcoguerrillas are being protected by DISIP, which has come under the control of Cuba's DGI, according to members of the Venezuelan security agency. European diplomatic officials in Caracas confirm that Cubans are operating DISIP's key counterterrorist and intelligence-analysis sections. According to a variety of sources, 300 to 400 Cuban military advisers coordinated by Havana's military attaché in Venezuela, navy Capt. Sergio Cardona, also are directing Chavez's elite Presidential Guard and his close circle of bodyguards. As many as 6,000 Cuban undercover agents masquerading as "sports instructors" and "teachers" also are reported to be training the Circulos Bolivarianos and even operating naval facilities.
"I quit my job when I got tired of doing dirty work for Chavez with the Cubans looking over my shoulder," Marcos Ferreira says, while showing proof that former Interior Minister Rodriguez Chacin and other presidential aides repeatedly pressured him to launder the identities of terrorists and narcotraffickers transiting through Venezuela. He also was ordered to deceive U.S. authorities on the activities of a Hezbollah financial network whose files were requested by the FBI following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Chavez gave instructions to destroy records on 10 suspected Hezbollah fund-raisers conducting suspicious financial transactions in the islands of Margarita, Aruba and Curaçao, and the cities of Maracaibo and Valencia, according to Ferreira. The Venezuelan president then dissolved key military counterterrorist units by firing 16 highly experienced, U.S.-trained intelligence officers at the time of the terrorist plane attacks in New York City and Washington. Circulos Bolivarianos leader Lina Ron celebrated the event by burning an American flag in the center of Caracas.
Reports on the investigation rescued from Chavez's burn pile specify that two of the suspects sought by the FBI -- Fathi Mohammed Awada [Venezuelan ID card No. V-6282373] and Hussein Kassine Yassine [No.V-6293922] -- withdrew $400,000 from the branch of the Corp Banca in Margarita before gong to Lebanon in December 2001. The report concludes that the individuals were "engaging in suspicious transactions which validate the suspicions of the U.S. government."
The money transfers never were recorded by Venezuela's national banking superintendent, a Chavez appointee. U.S. diplomatic sources in Caracas confirm that official inquiries through Venezuela's banking authorities have failed to reveal evidence on terrorist money laundering. "We've only consulted officials of the government," admits a U.S. economic officer.
Intelligence sources familiar with the cover-up say Chavez is withholding information on the Arabs, some of whom were important financial contributors to his presidential campaign. The report, withheld from the United States, also mentions Nasser Mohammed al-Din, described as a powerful entrepreneur and a close personal friend of Chavez, at whose home in Margarita the Venezuelan president stays on his frequent visits to the resort island, which is also a favored venue for his private meetings with Castro.
Margarita Island appears to be the center of an extensive terrorist financial network stretching throughout the Caribbean to Panama and the Cayman Islands, where three Afghanis traveling on false Pakistani passports were caught entering from Cuba with $200,000 in cash in August 2001. According to British colonial authorities, efforts to launder the money through Cayman banks also involved a group of Arab businessmen.
Chavez's ties to international terrorism date back to the days of his bloody 1992 military rebellion against the government of Carlos Andres Perez in which nearly 100 people were killed. After being received with honors by Castro in Havana, Chavez proceeded to Tripoli and Baghdad. "He came back with a lot of money to form his Movimiento Revolucionario Venezolano [MRV] and run for president," says Col. Pedro Soto, a Chavez supporter at the time.
Chavez paid presidential state visits to Libya, Iraq and Iran in February 2001, signing cooperation agreements with Muammar Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Tehran's ruling mullahs. Castro visited Libya, Iran and Syria some months later. An MRV politician and close Chavez aide closely tied to the Circulos Bolivarianos, Freddy Bernal, was in Iraq last March. He got caught trying to move arms into Saudi Arabia by U.N. peacekeeping forces policing the border.
Back in the days when he was a frustrated coup leader, Chavez also received help from Colombian narcoguerrilla organizations. He now is repaying them by closing Venezuelan airspace to U.S. antidrug flights. A military-intelligence report obtained by the former commander of the 2nd army theater of operations on the Colombian border, Gen. Nestor Gonzalez Gonzalez, shows that the Colombian drug forces are being protected by Chavez in camps inside Venezuelan territory. The sick leader of Colombia's National Liberation Army (ELN), Comandante Pablo, rests under DISIP protection at a villa in the upmarket Caracas neighborhood of El Marques.
Venezuela's army chief of staff, Gen. Jose Vietri, refers to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as "the de facto government of the Colombian border region.
The main contact with terrorist networks is identified as former interior minister Chacin, a commando-trained navy captain whose intimate relationship with Chavez dates back to when they conspired together in the 1992 putsch. Ferreira says that Chacin fired his predecessor at DIEX for complying with international requests to deport an ELN terrorist.
Chacin officially resigned as interior minister last April at the insistence of military officers who had led a coup attempt against Chavez. But he remains the de facto security chief, according to sources who describe how he operates under the double identity of Rafael Montenegro, managing secret bank accounts and conducting considerable activity along the border with Colombia.
"One of the first things Chacin ordered me to do when I became head of DIEX was to legalize the entry of five undocumented Colombians on the grounds that they had assisted ransom negotiations for kidnapped Venezuelans," Ferreira recalls. "He explained that they needed to spend some days in Venezuela before going to Cuba." The general soon found that such instructions were not exceptional.
During 2001, Chacin asked Ferreira to smooth the way for another 25 to 30 Colombians whom he personally received at the border crossing of San Antonio from where they were escorted by DISIP to Simón Bolívar International Airport in Caracas to board flights for Cuba. Chacin similarly arranged the transit of Canas Serrano, an ELN terrorist wanted by Interpol for the deaths of 84 people in the bombing of an oil pipeline.
The language Chacin used perturbed some of his officers. "After returning from a trip to Cuba, he started calling us comrades, referring to opponents of the government as 'the enemy' and talking about attacking their families." The breaking point came when a lieutenant colonel of the Presidential Guard asked Ferreira to issue a passport for a member of FARC, Ana Belinda Macias Arismendi, who carried a false Venezuelan identity document [No. V-12438823]. She urgently needed to get to Havana, Ferreira was told. "The fingerprints on the ID didn't even match hers," confides the general.
An analysis of DIEX records indicates that during the last two years 3,799 fraudulent Venezuelan identification documents have been distributed, of which 1,745 were issued through the DIEX border post of San Antonio. By cross-checking the redundant document numbers, Ferreira determined that 2,520 false IDs were given to Colombians and that the second-largest category of 279 went to Arabs invariably described as "Syrians."
Running further checks through Colombian police records, say law-enforcement insiders, two-dozen of the IDs were traced to known terrorists and narcotraffickers. Some examples: Julio Quintero Gomez [No. E-81895307], identified as a member of an ELN urban guerrilla column; Ramon Quintero, [No. E-81895573], identified as a member of the ELN national committee; and Alberto Diaz Sanchez [No. E-818955586], identified by authorities as a member of a narcotrafficking ring.
With Chavez loyalists and Cuban advisers now firmly in control of Venezuela's intelligence services, further efforts to track fraudulent ID cardholders are unlikely. Possibly thousands of falsely documented terrorists now could be part of what security officials describe as a "parallel force" being formed by Chavez to spread terrorism throughout the Western Hemisphere and support his power grab at home.
Intelligence sources say experienced urban-guerrilla fighters have been incorporated into the Circulos Bolivarianos, hundreds of whom have trained in Cuba and Libya as "social activists." Special shock units called Tupamaros and Carapaica secretly are headquartered at safehouses around Caracas where machine-gun emplacements protect street approaches to districts they control in outlying parts of the capital.
The Circulos militias also are being held responsible for recent bombings targeting the television stations, the trade-union confederation CTV and the business association Fedecamaras, which are charged by Chavez with organizing a general strike against the government. Threats have been e-mailed to government opponents such as a prominent woman journalist who has received graphic online descriptions of how she will be raped
The Circulos are backed by the 3rd Infantry Division, loyal to Chavez, and deployed around Caracas to disarm local police, preparing the ground for a showdown that could result in civil war.
Gen. Medina Gomez, who leads a group of 100+ dissident officers gathered for a monthlong protest rally at the Plaza Altamira square, is confident that the bulk of the military will not support the imposition of a dictatorship. "But the armed forces are suffering a deep internal crisis," he says. Gen. Nestor Gonzalez believes the army is seriously split: "Ten percent are pro-Chavez, 10 percent are anti-Chavez and 80 percent could go either way."
Chavez has had plenty of time to destabilize the armed forces, which may no longer be in any condition to stage a successful coup. Air force and mechanized units are low on fuel. Tank drivers have been assigned to drive public buses, and many career officers have been sent to administer civic projects with inflated budgets used to corrupt them. Sensitive communications and electronic-intelligence equipment is reported missing from military and police installations, and parts of the navy are being turned over to the Cubans. A U.S.-built amphibious landing ship, LST T63, has been tracked by U.S. satellite on round-trips between the port of La Guaira and the Cuban base of Cienfuegos.
The fuse has been lit by enemies of the United States out to prevent a heavy flow of oil from Venezuela when push comes to shove in the Middle East. Saddam has a terrorist supporter and friend in the Americas. His name is Hugo Chavez.
by Martin Arostegui
December 27, 2002
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Looks like we may be fighting THREE battles at the same time. I hope we have enough Special Forces units to send some into Venezuela and take out the nest of terrorist vipers there. Enough is enough.
Maybe but how? Militarily we are going to be spread pretty thin the way it is. Are you suggesting a specific solution "designed for an idividual" or are you leaning more toward economic considerations? How do we intervene?
I hope the Venezuelans can handle this themselves, because we've got an awful lot going on elsewhere.
But Chavez must go.
Just damn. Three!???