OK, to be clear, the "overwhelming" evidence that links Venezuela to "some of the most dangerous terrorist organizations" is: refusing to implement measures demanded by the TSA in Venezuelan airports. Yeah, um, FAIL with the overwhelming evidence, Mr. Mack.
In separate statements, Florida's Reps. Connie Mack and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen cited, among other reasons, the relationship between Caracas and the Islamic regime in Iran and with the FARC rebels in Colombia, both considered by the United States as entities that sponsor global terrorism.
Mack, who represents a district in Fort Myers, said that ``the evidence that links Venezuela with some of the most dangerous terrorist organizations is overwhelming.'' He cited the refusal of the government of President Hugo Chávez to implement in Venezuelan airports the measures demanded by the Transportation Security Administration.
Oh but that's not all. There's more forward "linkage:"
He also said that evidence exists that agents from FARC, Hamas and Hezbollah ``operate with few restrictions in Venezuela'' and that many of those agents use Venezuelan passports to travel abroad.``There is no doubt that the potential threat to [U.S.] security from Venezuela is extremely high,'' Mack stated, at the same time he demanded that the Obama administration include Venezuela on the list of terrorist-sponsoring nations ``without delay.''
This is not the first time that Mack has promoted this type of initiative. On Oct. 28, 2009, he introduced a resolution in Congress, together with his fellow congressman from Florida Ron Klein, to include Venezuela on the list of terrorism sponsors. That proposal had gone nowhere, until now.
Now that "everything's changed." (again)
Ros-Lehtinen may have been citing Jay Bergman, DEA director for the Andean region of South America.
For her part, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen cited DEA reports that demonstrate a Venezuelan connection in a new alliance formed between the FARC and al Qaeda, in which the oil producing nation plays the part of a ``massive airport for the use of the traffickers.''
``It is no surprise that Hugo Chávez allows Venezuela to serve as a massive airport for the use of traffickers. In fact the DEA has said that all the planes captured in West Africa left from Venezuela,'' Ros-Lehtinen said.
She explained that the recent arrest of three African agents of al Qaeda after a drug smuggling operation showed a new panorama of cooperation between Islamic extremist groups and those of South American narco-guerrillas.
Well, I can agree that geography is always a key reason behind any hot spot in the world. Either there's something buried in the ground, or something that can be hidden in the ground, or something that can be grown in the ground, or something that can be passed over the ground. Usually called simply "natural resources."
"As suggested by the recent arrest of three alleged al Qaeda operatives, the expansion of cocaine trafficking through West Africa has provided the venue for an unholy alliance between South American narco-terrorists and Islamic extremists," Bergman said in an interview over the weekend.
To reach the U.S. market, Colombian smugglers are meanwhile being driven to use disposable, fiberglass submarines. The homemade craft are constructed in the mangroves of Colombia's Pacific coast, used to carry drugs to Mexico for transshipment to the United States, then sunk.
..."All of the aircraft seizures that have been made in West Africa, and we've made about a half a dozen of them, had departed from Venezuela. If you look at the range and refueling requirements, that's the place you have to fly from," he said. "Geography is the key reason why Venezuela has become a springboard location," Bergman added.
The Israelis have been all over Columbia for a long time.
Chavez has called Columbia the "Israel of Latin America" as reported a year ago today in Haaretz, in response to a cross-border raid. (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/960284.html)
Israel is now Colombia's top weapons supplier, with the bulk of the armaments being used against FARC and another leftist group, the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (National Liberation Army or ELN). Israeli weaponry includes drones, light arms and ammunition, surveillance and communication systems and specialized bombs capable of destroying coca fields.
The irony is that Colombia's armed forces occasionally clash with right-wing paramilitaries and drug cartel gunmen trained in the late 1980s by rogue Israeli mercenaries, one of whom was detained in Russia earlier this week on an Interpol warrant.
The news throws a most unwelcome spotlight on the Colombian government's efforts to avail itself of Israeli expertise. In 1987, right-wing paramilitaries hired Israeli former Lieutenant Colonel reservist Yair Klein and members of his private "security" company Hod He'hanitin (Spearhead Ltd.) as advisors on the country's leftist insurgency with tacit approval from the government of President Virgilio Barco Vargas.
...Over the next two years, Klein and his personnel trained right-wing vigilante paramilitaries belonging to affluent landowners, who would eventually become the nucleus of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC.) AUC quickly moved beyond its original intent of providing protection to wealthy landowners to becoming deeply involved in drug trafficking, and had support from elements in the army and the police, and Klein apparently shifted to providing expertise to the drug traffickers as well.
Venezeuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered tanks and thousands of troops on Sunday to the border with Colombia, accusing it of pushing South America to the brink of war and likening it to Israel for its U.S.-backed attacks on militants...."The Colombian government has become the Israel of Latin America," an agitated Chavez said, reiterating his criticism of the Israel Defense Forces' strikes on Palestinian militants....Correa said the rebels were bombed and massacred as they slept, using precision technology. He said Colombia violated Ecuador's airspace when it bombed the rebel camp, which the Colombian military said was located 1.8 kilometers from the border.So all this hysteria all of a sudden over Venezuela seems a bit disingenuous. What are we to just accept the word of Jay Bergman at the DEA? Sometimes I think these people imagine they have credibility just because they work at a letter agency and collect a nice paycheck. Let's not forget that Headley was a DEA informant, too, as well as working for the CIA. And the CIA knows all about al Qaeda, so the linkages work both ways now, don't they.
Hot on the heels of Bergman's weekend interview, a FARC rebel suspected of kidnapping and murdering (by decapitation) a provincial governor was arrested. As if to underscore what thugs are FARC. But from the comments in the second link:
I’m a Colombian, living in Venezuela. Uribe and all of the Colombian Government is tied to the paramilitaries, which are behind most of the drugs and crime. They go around pinning everything on the FARC. The paracos even dress up like FARC to commit crimes.All of this fits into a much larger narrative, described here:
The coming to power in Venezuela, of President Hugo Chávez on February 2, 1999 coincided with a traumatic event for the U.S. military: the closure of its main military installation in the region, the Howard base, located in Panama, closed under Torrijos-Carter (1977). In its place, the Pentagon selected four locations to control the region: Manta in Ecuador, Comalapa in El Salvador and the islands of Aruba and Curaçao (Netherlands sovereignty).
...After the attacks of 11 September 2001, the U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defined a new military doctrine to meet the threat of "international terrorism". It modified their external deployment strategy, based on the existence of huge bases equipped with numerous staff. He decided to replace these megabases by a much larger number of Foreign Operating Locations (FOL, Operational Site prepositions) and Cooperative Security Locations (CSL, Shared Web Security) with little military personnel, but equipped with ultramodern technologies of detection.
...In Latin America, the redeployment of bases allowed the Manta (Ecuador) to collaborate in the failed coup of 11 April 2002 against President Chavez. Thereafter, a media campaign run by Washington began to spread false information about the alleged presence there of cells of organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah and even Al Qaeda.
Under the pretext of monitoring such movements, and in retaliation against the government in Caracas that ended in May 2004, a half century of U.S. military presence in Venezuela, the Pentagon extends the use of its military bases on the islands of Aruba and Curaçao, located very near the Venezuelan coast, which have recently been increased by visits of U.S. warships.
This has been denounced by President Chavez recently: "It is good that Europe knows that the American empire is arming to the teeth, with the islands of Aruba and Curacao filled with warplanes and warships . (...) I am accusing the Kingdom of the Netherlands to be laying next to the U.S. empire, an aggression against Venezuela "(1).
...Thus, Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution are surrounded by no less than thirteen U.S. bases located in Colombia, Panama, Aruba and Curacao, as well as aircraft carriers and warships of the Fourth Fleet. President Obama seems to have left hands free to the Pentagon. All are predicting an imminent assault. "Will the people consent to a new crime committed against democracy in Latin America?
UPDATE 1: To wit:
CARACAS, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Friday that he had ordered F-16 jets to intercept a U.S. military plane that twice violated Venezuelan airspace earlier in the day. Speaking at a cabinet meeting, Chavez said that the U.S. plane, based on the Netherlands' Curacao island in the Caribbean, intruded into Venezuelan airspace twice, the first for 15 minutes and the second 19 minutes. The F-16s escorted the U.S. plane out, he added. However, the U.S. military denied that any of its planes entered Venezuelan airspace on Friday.
"As a matter of policy we do not fly over a nation's air space without prior consent and coordination," the U.S. Southern Command, which is in charge of U.S. military activities in the hemisphere, said in a statement. "We operate with the utmost respect for the sovereignty of the nations in our hemisphere. Last month, Chavez accused the United States of flying an unmanned spy plane into Venezuela's airspace and vowed to shoot down any similar aircraft in the future. Venezuela suspended diplomatic ties with Colombia in July in response to a U.S.-Colombian military base deal, saying it would pave the way for the United States to invade Venezuela. Both Washington and Bogota denied the allegation.
UPDATE 2: They're also working this from the other end. David Johnson, assistant secretary for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs to visit Lebanon in the next few days, etc.