Archive for the ‘terrorism. Latin America’ Category

Colombia: The FARC negotiations

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Two different views on the ongoing negotiations:

Peace Signs in Colombia
Can Bogotá and the FARC Finally Overcome Their Differences?
which concludes with,

Polls published by the Colombia media indicate that the majority of Colombians support ending the conflict with the FARC by diplomatic means. Unfortunately, there has been little public discourse about the potential struggles that the nation will face if the FARC lay down their arms. Although Cuba and Venezuela have publicly expressed their support of Colombia’s peace efforts, regional tensions remain high, especially when it comes to relations with the United States. For now, then, even if a peace agreement is signed, it does not mean that peace will prevail.

and,
Colombia’s Bet on Peace With Guerrillas President Santos explains why he is negotiating with the FARC.

The president is talking about a paradigm shift. “Many people are accustomed to the war but I don’t accept that,” he told me. “I think Colombia deserves to have peace and I am quite certain that we will achieve it.”

Part of his optimism stems from his conviction that the rebels “are weakened and they don’t have an alternative.” Actually they do have an alternative, which is to stay out in the jungle and die with their boots on. Still, Mr. Santos is the FARC guerrillas’ best hope for getting a deal that will offer them some leniency. Should he walk away or fail to win re-election in May, they are not likely to fare better under the next government.

Mr. Santos’s critics, including former president Alvaro Uribe, doubt the FARC’s good faith. As I reported in June, they also worry that the government will sacrifice justice for peace and will get neither.

As far as I can see,

  • The FARC are not interested in disbanding. To the contrary, they are seeking alliances with the ELN
  • The FARC are calling for a “restructuring of the Colombian state“, including a major redesign of the Colombian Constitution
  • The FARC are not interested in ceasing its operations as a drug crime entity
  • As the O’Grady article states, the FARC’s goal is “to force the government to designate the area an autonomous zone that it could control”
  • And, inspired by their Cuban hosts, they are in it for the long run.

What kind of peace, then, could these negotiations yield?

Panama Canal: Was the FARC the intended recipient of the Cuban weapons?

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Colombian terrorist/crime group FARC (which stands for Colombian revolutionary armed forces in English) is currently in peace talks with the Colombian government. The negotiations are taking place in Cuba, while the FARC insist that they will not surrender their weapons, will not disarm, and will not serve time in prison. They want a similar deal to that of the IRA in Northern Ireland.

At the same time, Colombia’s largest armed rebel groups, the Farc and ELN, have met as recently as last month “to strengthen” their “unification process”:

They are discussing how Farc could enter politics if a deal is reached to end five decades of conflict.

According to the Farc statement, the meeting with the ELN (National Liberation Army) at an undisclosed location discussed the need to “work for the unity of all political and social forces” involved in changing the country.

The two groups have clashed in the past but have recently joined forces in armed operations against government targets in Colombia.

So the FARC holds peace talks, while engaging in negotiations to merge with another, equally deadly Colombian terrorist group.

Presently, the peace negotiations are on recess, and are scheduled to resume on July 28,

After having exchanged proposals about the second point in the agenda (political participation), the parties have worked separately to continue discussing the first sub item on the agenda, which envisages the rights and guarantees to exercise political opposition in general and in particular for the new movements that may emerge after the signing of the Final Agreement, as well as the access to the media.

In the meantime, elsewhere in Latin America, Panama stopped a North Korean freighter suspected of smuggling drugs, and, after a tussle with the crew, a suicide attempt by the captain, and the captain’s heart attack, they find, hidden behind sacks of Cuban brown sugar,

240 metric tons of “obsolete defensive weapons”: two Volga and Pechora anti-aircraft missile systems, nine missiles “in parts and spares,” two Mig-21 Bis and 15 engines for those airplanes.

Keep in mind that the U.N. sanctions ban all imports to and exports from North Korea of conventional weapons, as well as material related to the country’s nuclear- and ballistic-missile programs.

But that was only on the first search; now Panama finds [four] more containers of Cuban war materiel on North Korean ship

Port authorities said four new containers had been found, bringing the total to six, in two stacks of three. They were not declared in the ship’s manifest and were hidden under 220,000 sacks of Cuban brown sugar.

But wait! There’s more!

Panamanian police academy cadets offloading the sugar so far have opened only one of the freighter’s four cargo holds, and each hold has six separate sections, according to the port officials, who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to comment.

Foreign technicians with specialized imaging equipment are expected to arrive soon to search every inch of the ship and not just its cargo holds, because the tip that led Panamanian authorities to search the freighter indicated that it was carrying illegal drugs.

[Panamanian] Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino, meanwhile, said the work of unloading the 220,000 sacks of sugar from the 450-foot Chong Chon Gang is an “odyssey” because the 100-pound bags were loaded in Cuba without using pallets.

“The technicians have told us that this cargo was loaded in a way that makes it difficult to unload,” Mulino told reporters, estimating that the work of unloading all the sugar will take another seven to 10 days.

One may take Cuba’s story at face value and believe them when they say that they were sending the armaments to Korea “to be repaired and returned to Cuba” – demonstrating that Cuba remains a threat. The line is that

the Cubans might have sent the equipment to North Korea to be repaired because Russia—an obvious choice to do the repair work—would have asked for cash, while North Korea may have well accepted a barter deal that included the 10,000 tons of sugar on the ship as payment for the repair of the weapons systems.

While all this is going on, former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe tweeted yesterday that he was told by a reliable source that the shipment was not headed to North Korea, but, instead, to Ecuador.

Which adds a new twist to the story.

Why would Ecuador’s government bother with such antiquated equipment, when it can buy new? For instance, five years ago, following the Uribe administration’s raid of a FARC encampment a mile into the Ecuadorian border, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa says Quito may buy weapons from Iran to enable the tightening of security on its border with Colombia.

During his stay in Tehran, Ecuadorian officials attended an exhibition organized by the Iranian Defense Ministry and were familiarized with the country’s defense equipment.

That may be accomplished through money transfers in the joint Ecuadorian-Iranian bank, and with the help of the direct flights between Iran and Venezuela.

Ecuador can also openly purchase armaments through other sources.

However, the FARC, involved as it currently is in “peace talks”, and considering the fact it is recognized as a terrorist organization, is not in a situation where it can openly purchase armaments. Cuba, its host on the peace talks, is strapped for cash; so is North Korea; the FARC has money from its drug trade and other criminal activity. The FARC doesn’t need state-of-the-art armaments, it only needs enough to destroy and disrupt Colombia into chaos.

And, while we’re at it, let’s remember that last year FARC Camps [were] Dismantled in Panama’s Darien Jungle as a result of a joint operation between units from Panama and Colombia.

Jaime Bayly talked about this last night (in Spanish),

So, the question remains,

Was the FARC the intended recipient of the Cuban weapons?

UPDATE,
Linked by Babalu. Thanks!

Linked by HACER. Thanks!


The #CowNado Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Yes, my friends, after the #SharkNado, it’s #CowNado time!

The Brazilian man was asleep in bed when the cow fell on him and killed him. Both the cow & his widow are unharmed.

LatinAmerIn other news from the region:

ARGENTINA
Greenwald Tells Argentinean Media Snowden Has Info That Could Be US’ ‘Worst Nightmare’

BOLIVIA
Morales says US hacked Bolivian leaders’ emails

BRAZIL
Corruption and Graft: Brazil Rushes Headlong into Popular Revolt

Brazil’s protests
The fallout spreads
Politicians have been hurt by the marches, none more so than the president

CHILE
FACTS AND TRUTH: THE GOVERNMENT THAT SAVED CHILE

COLOMBIA
Uribistas name candidates for Colombia´s 2014 senate race

CUBA
Remembering victims of ’13th of March’ tugboat massacre, July 13, 1994

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Dominicans Freak Out Over Obama’s Gay Ambassador Pick

ECUADOR
The Correa-Khamenei Axis
Ecuador pumping up its relationship with Iran and Syria, experts say

QUITO JOURNAL
In Ecuador, a Magazine’s Death Comes Amid Questions

GUATEMALA
Guatemala ‘to extradite drug lord’
A Guatemalan appeals court rules that Waldemar Lorenzana, who is wanted by the US for his alleged ties to Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, can be extradited

HONDURAS
With Honduras, Obama Was Quick to Recognize a ‘Coup’

A Tale of Two Coups: Egypt and Honduras

LATIN AMERICA
Iran Fans Out 40,000 Agents in South America

MEXICO
‘The Terrorist-Criminal Nexus: An Alliance of International Drug Cartels, Organized Crime, and Terror Groups’

What Happened to Congress’ ‘Fast and Furious’ Fury?
Scandal resurfaces as a Mexican police chief and his bodyguard fall victim to a gun from the ATF operation.

Local elections in Mexico
Something for everyone—except voters

Disappeared, Smeared and Abandoned by their Government: the Fate of Mexico’s Disappeared

PUERTO RICO
Reports bring PR into Snowden case

VENEZUELA
What Edward Snowden Should Know About Venezuela (registration required)

In Spanish: Maduro y Evo hablan del espía,

The week’s posts and podcast:
Argentina: I say tomato, you say tomahtoh

Mexico: Bugs – it’s what’s for dinner

Argentina: House Lawmakers Ask John Kerry to Reconsider Argentinian Aid

Cuba: 50 years of food rationing

Venezuela and Iran’s joint intelligence program

Argentina and Mexico: #1 on corruption

Argentina: 33% in poverty

Venezuela: Runaway inflation, runaway asylum

Argentina blocks AMIA prosecutor from testifying on Iranian presence in South America

UN: Mexico border a “global pathway” to the USA

Podcast:
Socialism in Latin America with Dr Carlos Eire


Argentina: House Lawmakers Ask John Kerry to Reconsider Argentinian Aid

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

From the Washington Free Beacon:
House Lawmakers Ask John Kerry to Reconsider Argentinian Aid
Bipartisan coalition criticizes Argentina for growing closer to Iran

U.S. officials and regional experts warned earlier this week that under the leadership of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina has helped Iran bring its terrorist activities to the Western hemisphere.

The lawmakers—including House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R., Texas), Reps. Jeff Duncan (R., S.C.), Grace Meng (D., N.Y.), Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.), and Bill Posey (R., Fla.)—urged Kerry to immediately cut back U.S. support for Argentina.

The matter has assumed “a new level of urgency” given Argentina’s increasing efforts to accommodate Iran, according to the letter.

U.S. officials and independent experts have cited Kirchner’s government for boosting trade with Iran by more than a billion dollars, as well as for allowing Iranian agents to move freely through the region, where they are suspected of smuggling weapons, money, and other goods.

I’ll be extremely surprised if Kerry agrees. At best, the current administration simply doesn’t care. Worse, the State Department comes up with two-page reports soft-pedaling Iran’s threat on Latin America.


Venezuela and Iran’s joint intelligence program

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

ProPublica’s report on The Terror Threat and Iran’s Inroads in Latin America

A senior officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) traveled secretly with the presidential delegation and met with Venezuelan military and security chiefs. His mission: to set up a joint intelligence program between Iranian and Venezuelan spy agencies, according to the Western officials.

At the secret meeting, Venezuelan spymasters agreed to provide systematic help to Iran with intelligence infrastructure such as arms, identification documents, bank accounts and pipelines for moving operatives and equipment between Iran and Latin America, according to Western intelligence officials. Although suffering from cancer, Chavez took interest in the secret talks as part of his energetic embrace of Iran, an intelligence official told ProPublica.

The senior IRGC officer’s meeting in Caracas has not been previously reported.

As I previously posted, Argentina blocked the AMIA prosecutor from testifying to Congress on the Iranian presence in South America

The context for the unusual move to block the testimony is Argentina’s pro-Iranian shift. Argentina has had tense relations with Iran since the AMIA attack. A previous bombing in 1992 — also blamed on Iran — destroyed the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires and killed 29 people.

In 2003, Nisman was appointed special prosecutor with a mandate to revive a probe that had bogged down in dysfunction and corruption. He indicted seven Iranian officials and a Hezbollah chief as the masterminds three years later, and Interpol issued arrest warrants for them. Iranian officials denied any role and described Nisman, who is Jewish, as “a Zionist.”

But six months ago, the Fernández de Kirchner government agreed with Iran to form an independent “truth commission” about the AMIA case. Argentina’s about-face was blasted by Jewish groups, the political opposition, the Israeli government and U.S. officials. Critics call it a political maneuver that makes justice even less likely at this late date. Argentina’s growing ties to Iran coincide with an increasingly confrontational attitude toward the United States, Spain and other Western nations.

“The Argentine president has already made her decision to curtail DEA activities, publicly and repeatedly attack the United States as an imperialistic and warmongering nation, and reopen relations with Iran that make a mockery of the rule of law,” Douglas Farah, president of the IBI Consultants national security consulting firm, testified at the hearing.

Indicted AMIA plotter Mohsen Rabbani, an alleged spymaster using the cover of Iranian cultural attaché in Buenos Aires, oversaw the establishment of intelligence networks in embassies, front companies and religious and cultural centers in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Guyana, Paraguay and Uruguay, according to the Argentine prosecutor’s report. The Iranian spies teamed with Hezbollah to carry out both bombings, according to Argentine, Israeli and U.S. investigators.

Today, the fugitive Rabbani is based in Iran and continues to play a key role in Latin American espionage, directing ideological and operational training for recruits who travel from the region, according to U.S. law enforcement officials and witnesses at the hearing.

Go to ProPublica and read their article.

Re: Venezuela, In Venezuela, Snowden Can Prepare For Life As A Pawn

UPDATE,
Linked by Instapundit. Thank you!


Argentina blocks AMIA prosecutor from testifying on Iranian presence in South America

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

The Congressional Committee on Homeland Security is holding hearings today on the Threat to the Homeland: Iran’s Extending Influence in the Western Hemisphere (which you can watch at the link).

Alberto Nisman, General Prosecutor of the AMIA Case, was scheduled to testify regarding Iran’s influence in South America; however, the government of Argentina would not allow it.

McCaul, Duncan Question Government of Argentina Blocking Witness from Testifying on Iranian Presence in South America

The letter to President Fernández de Kirchner is available HERE, and the letter from Alberto Nisman to Chairman Michael McCaul is available HERE.

Chairman McCaul on the letter: “Alberto Nisman’s report sheds critical light on how the United States should understand threats to our homeland that emanate from the Iranian regime. His investigation into the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires shows that the Iranian presence in the Western Hemisphere is greater than we imagined. Iranian infiltration within countries in our region presents a clear and present danger to our homeland, as do attempts to silence or downplay this threat, and Mr. Nisman’s testimony should be heard.”

Subcommittee Chairman Duncan on the letter: “Iran’s willingness to conduct operations in the Western Hemisphere and on American soil is clear. In contrast to the U.S. State Department’s recent assessment that Iran’s influence in Latin America and the Caribbean is ‘waning,’ Nisman’s investigation revealed that Iran is deeply embedded within countries in Latin America and is ready to exploit its position to ‘execute terrorist attacks when the Iranian regime decides to do so.’ Argentina’s decision to deny Nisman permission to share his findings publicly sends a troubling message and is deeply disturbing to regional security and U.S. homeland security.”

As you may recall,

In October 2006, Mr. Nisman indicted seven Iranians and one Lebanese-born member of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia for the AMIA murders. Interpol notices for their arrest were issued but none was captured. Then, late last year, the Argentine government of Cristina Kirchner announced that a “truth commission,” to be chosen by Argentina and Iran, would examine the viability of the prosecutor’s case.

To many Argentines, that seemed like letting the fox decide the fate of the chickens. But Mrs. Kirchner forged ahead, getting congress to agree. On May 20 Ahmadinejad approved Iran’s participation on the commission.

Mr. Nisman’s response was to release a mountain of evidence against Tehran into cyberspace for all the world to see.

And now he’s not allowed to testify at the U.S. House Homeland Security hearings on Iran.

Who is Cristina protecting?

UPDATE:
Press Briefing: Iran’s influence in Latin America evolving, not declining, new study reveals


Snowden’s asylum and Maduro’s message to Iran

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Mary O’Grady explains Why Venezuela Offers Asylum to Snowden
President Nicólas Maduro sends a message of his loyalty to Iran.

Venezuela has reason to fear increasing irrelevance as North America becomes more energy independent. This makes Iran crucial. Mr. Maduro may be trying to establish himself as a leader as committed to the anti-American cause as was his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, who had a strong personal bond with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He also needs to establish his own place in South American politics.

Reaching out to Mr. Snowden is a way to send a message to the world that notwithstanding Secretary of State John Kerry’s feeble attempt at rapprochement with Caracas last month, post-Chávez Venezuela has no intention of changing the course of the Bolivarian revolution. Rather, as the economy of the once-wealthy oil nation deteriorates, Mr. Maduro is signaling that Venezuela wants to become an even more loyal geopolitical ally and strategic partner of Russia and Iran.

While the U. S. State Department ignores Iran’s allies in our hemisphere, Iran has, for nearly two decades, assiduously cultivated terror and crime networks in LAtin America. Read this report, AMIA CASE: ARGENTINIAN PROSECUTOR ALBERTO NISMAN ACCUSED THE IRANIAN REGIME, AND MOHSEN RABBANI IN PARTICULAR, OF INFILTRATING LATIN-AMERICAN COUNTRIES, BUILDING LOCAL CLANDESTINE INTELLIGENCE STATIONS DESIGNED TO SPONSOR, FOSTER AND EXECUTE TERRORIST ATTACKS, WITHIN THE PRINCIPLES TO EXPORT THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION; it’s worth your time.

Colombia: Legitimizing the FARC

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Colombia’s Perilous Peace Talks
Former President Álvaro Uribe warns that negotiations ‘validate’ FARC terrorists.

Under Colombia’s 1991 constitution, a criminal conviction disqualified an individual from running for office. Now the “framework for peace,” an amendment to the constitution that was signed into law last year by President Juan Manuel Santos, converts FARC atrocities into “political crimes” and gives the attorney general discretion over which ones will be prosecuted.

By categorizing violent crime and even what are essentially crimes against humanity—including the recruitment of child soldiers—as “political crimes,” the Santos government can now offer the FARC political “eligibility” in exchange for an end to hostilities.

Make no mistake, the FARC insist that they will not surrender their weapons, will not disarm, and will not serve time in prison. They want a similar deal to that of the IRA in Northern Ireland.

That should not come as a surprise, considering how the IRA trained the FARC, and how now the IRA is lending its expertise to the negotiations taking place in Havana.

Roundup: More on Iran in Latin America

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Following up on yesterday’s post on Iran’s infiltration in Latin America,


Demonstrators holding photos of the 85 people who died in the 1994 AMIA bombing

BBC: Iran ‘in Latin America terror plot’ – Argentina prosecutor
An Argentine prosecutor has accused Iran of trying to infiltrate countries in Latin America to sponsor and carry out “terrorist activities”.

AP: Argentine Prosecutor: Iran Infiltrating Continent

NYT: Prosecutor in Argentina Sees Iranian Plot in Latin America

In his report, Mr. Nisman contended that the 1994 bombing was not an isolated event. “It has to be investigated as a segment in a larger sequence,” he said in a report summary, pointing to parallels with the case of two Guyanese men convicted in 2010 of conspiring to attack Kennedy International Airport in New York.

In that case, a former Guyanese government official, Abdul Kadir, opened himself to a claim by prosecutors in New York that he secretly worked for years as a spy for Iran when he said during cross-examination that he had drafted regular reports to Iran’s ambassador in Venezuela on plans to infiltrate Guyana’s military and police. The plot to attack the airport did not advance beyond the conceptual stage.

Mr. Nisman, who has investigated the bombing since 2005, suggested that “criminal plans” by Iran could be under development in Latin America, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Paraguay, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay.

And let’s not forget the direct flights fron Tehran to Caracas.

WSJ: Iran in America’s Backyard
Remember that botched attempt to blow up John F. Kennedy airport in 2007?

Connecting the dots, Mr. Nisman found that one of the Iranian agents in the plan to incinerate JFK—Guyanese citizen Abdul Kadir—had a “close relationship and hierarchical subordination” to Rabbini. But Kadir’s activities were supported from other countries as well. He “was very important to the plot, not only because he was a successful leader, but also due to his deeply rooted connections with Iran and its embassy in Venezuela.” And he was active in countries throughout the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago; Dominica; Barbados; Antigua and Barbuda; Surinam; and Grenada. “His activity as an Iranian leader allowed him to establish and strengthen relations with other regional Islamic leaders and by 1998 he was the representative of the Secretariat of the Caribbean Islamic Movement.”

It is unlikely that either Kadir or Rabbani would have gotten as far as they did without the use of a seemingly benign activity to shield them. “The dual use of institutions controlled by the Iranian Regime, the cultural, religious and propagation activities conducted by its agents abroad and the radical indoctrination of its supporters” become operational with “the construction of intelligence stations,” the summary explains. These have “the capability to provide logistic, economic and operative support to terrorist attacks decided by the Islamic regime.”

Telegraph (h/t Gates of Vienna): Argentine prosecutor accuses Iran of establishing Latin America terrorist networks
An Argentine prosecutor accused Iran on Wednesday of establishing terrorist networks in Latin America dating back to the 1980s and said he would send his findings to courts in the affected countries.

The Economist, back in January: Argentine-Iranian relations
A pact with the devil?

US State Department: Country Reports on Terrorism 2012


Argentina: Iran’s infiltration in Latin America

Friday, May 31st, 2013

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee (MENA) released the following statement,500-Page Indictment by AMIA Bombing Prosecutor Reveals Troubling Extent of Iran’s Infiltration into Latin America, Says Ros-Lehtinen,

This indictment reaffirms the fact that Iran’s dual use of diplomatic and cultural offices is utilized to deepen its infiltration into the Hemisphere

She asserts,

“I’m deeply troubled by the findings by Alberto Nisman, whose 500-page indictment cites extensive evidence of Iran’s ‘intelligence and terrorist network’ in various Latin American nations. This report shows clearly that the 1994 AMIA bombing was not an isolated event, but rather that it was part of a larger and still ongoing scheme by the Iranian regime and its proxies to expand their influence in the Western Hemisphere and threaten U.S. security interests in the region.

“This indictment reaffirms the fact that Iran’s dual use of diplomatic and cultural offices is utilized to deepen its infiltration into the Hemisphere. In particular, the indictment implicates the fugitive Mohsen Rabbani, the mastermind behind the AMIA bombing, as the primary coordinator of Iran’s nefarious activities in the region. Another disturbing example cited in the indictment which demonstrates the scope of Iran’s activities is that of the two Guayenese men who were convicted in 2010 for conspiring to carry out a terrorist attack on JFK airport in New York. These examples underscore the danger that the Iranian regime presents not only through its nuclear program, but also through its unrelenting efforts to export its violent radicalism to our own Hemisphere

I may remind you that Iran’s Minister of Defense is the mastermind of the AMIA attack.