Reply-To: "pedro martori"
From: "pedro martori"
Subject: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's government is protecting suspected members of al-Qaida
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Date: Sun, 19 Oct 2003 18:45:26 -0400
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El artículo sigue a continuación:
Venezuela accused of al-Qaida link
By Martin Arostegui
Published 10/10/2003 12:22 PM
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BOGOTA, Colombia, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's
government is protecting suspected members of al-Qaida and other militant
groups by providing them with false identities, former officials of his
Interior Ministry told United Press International.
Gen. Marcos Ferreira, who headed the Departamento de Extranjeria, or DIEX,
which is responsible for keeping records on foreigners, told UPI thousands
of fraudulent Venezuelan identities were issued to members of known
terrorist groups, including al-Qaida, on orders from top officials in
By tracing redundant ID numbers, intelligence officials said 3,799
fraudulent documents were issued between 2000 and 2002. The largest batch of
2,520 were given to Colombians and the second-largest category of 279 went
to individuals of Middle Eastern origin, invariably described in Venezuelan
Interior Ministry computer records as Syrians.
Other Venezuelan security officials told UPI the country's internal security
service, Direccion de Inteligencia, Seguridad y Prevencion, or DISIP, was
protecting suspected members of Osama bin Laden's organization and
Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group.
Ferreira said he forwarded an FBI request for surveillance on Hakim Mohammed
al-Diab Fatah -- a Venezuelan-Arab who is believed to be linked to the Sept.
11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington -- to his bosses in the
Interior Ministry. Although Venezuelan authorities denied any knowledge of
the suspect, Ferreira said DISIP picked up al-Diab Fatah directly from the
plane on which he arrived from the United States on March 8, 2002. He wasn't
taken through any immigration checks so his identity could be laundered, he
Security officials, meanwhile, told UPI Afghan mullahs connected to the
Taliban also entered Venezuela in 2002. Their local contact was Tariq
Williams Saab, who heads the ruling Venezuelan Revolutionary Movement's
International Relations Committee. He is also suspected to be involved in
the Sept. 11 attacks.
Saab is said to have met with two members of the Irish Republican Army who
visited the country en route to Colombia where they were held in 2001 for
their links with left-wing rebel groups in that country.
Since his election in 1998, Chavez has irked the United States with his
close ties to countries such as Cuba, Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Libya.
In August 2000, he became the first foreign head of state to visit Saddam in
Iraq since the first Gulf War in 1991. His close ties to Cuba's Fidel Castro
have raised concerns that he wants to turn Venezuela into a Marxist-style
nation. Cuban advisers occupy key posts in Venezuela's security services and
Colombian guerrilla groups maintain important facilities in Havana, the U.S.
State Department says.
More recently, intelligence reports say, Libyan security personnel have been
brought in to help manage Venezuela's newly nationalized oil company, PDVSA.
In a report last week, U.S. News and World Report said Chavez's government
was aiding militant groups both in Latin America and elsewhere. Chavez
immediately denied the claim.
"This is sewage," he told reporters in Caracas. "It's disgusting."
The Venezuelan leader's relations with the United States are frosty at best.
He was deposed in a coup in April 2002, but quickly returned to power. He
accused Washington of trying to oust him; the United States denies this.
Chavez is also battling attempts by critics at home to vote him out of
office. They accuse him of cracking down on freedoms and curtailing human
rights and are gathering signatures for a referendum that could be held in
Allegations that Chavez's government supports left-wing rebel groups in
neighboring Colombia are not new.
Venezuelan security officials say top ministers repeatedly ordered them to
assist members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and
the National Liberation Army, or ELN. The U.S. State Department regards both
organizations as terrorist groups.
"One of the first things that I was ordered to do when I became chief of
DIEX was to legalize the entry of five undocumented Colombians on the
grounds that they had assisted in ransoming kidnapped Venezuelans," Ferreira
The general said he was asked to repeat the procedure on 35 different
occasions by Interior Minister Rodriguez Chacin during the time he was DIEX
head between 2000 and 2002.
Showing official records in his possession, Ferreira said individual cases
he was instructed to handle had special priority because they concerned top
members of these organizations who needed to travel to Cuba. DISIP regularly
escorted guerrilla leaders from the Colombian border to Caracas
international airport where they collected forged passports to board flights
to Havana, he said.
Ferreira identified some of the suspected terrorists who traveled through
Venezuela: Canas Serrano, a member of the ELN high command wanted by
Interpol for a bombing that killed 84 people; Marcote Fragoso, alias Aldo
Manuel, commander of FARC's 59th Front on Colombia's border province of
Guajira who is now operating as an international representative for the
guerrilla group; Ana Belinda Macias Arismendi, a reputed money launderer for
Ferreira said fingerprints on the identity document number V12438823 issued
to Macias when she crossed into Venezuela from Colombia through the border
post of San Antonio del Tachira didn't even match hers.
"It was at that point that I decided that I couldn't go on doing the
government's dirty work," he said.
He says he alerted U.S. intelligence agencies before resigning in April
2002. Interior Ministry sources said he was replaced by a top Cuban
John Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, denied any knowledge of the
allegations, but diplomatic sources said the U.S. Embassy in Caracas
discouraged direct contact with Venezuelan rebel officers for fear of
jeopardizing efforts to secure an agreement to allow the referendum oh the
Colombian authorities, however, crosschecked fraudulent Venezuelan
identity-card holders listed by Ferreira, confirming their backgrounds.
Police sources in Bogotá told UPI Julio Quintero Gomez, with Venezuelan
identity number V81895307, was on file with Colombia's Interior Ministry as
an ELN urban guerrilla column member; Ramon Quintero ( V81895573) was
identified as a member of the ELN national committee, and Alberto Diaz
Sanchez (V81895586) was said to be a member of a narco-trafficking ring.
Other officials say Chavez is using the Colombian as a block vote should
elections be held in Venezuela.
Ernesto Amezquita Camacho, a Colombian lawyer, who works in Caracas as an
adviser to the Venezuelan Justice Ministry told UPI he ran an association to
settle Colombian refugees in Venezuela and that he helped bring in Colombian
labor to break last year's strike against the Chavez government.
Venezuelan opposition leaders allege thousands of Colombian guerrillas have
been naturalized illegally to swell the ranks of Chavez's party militias,
the Circulos Bolivarianos, and act as a bloc vote the government can
mobilize in future elections.
Es evidente que las acusaciones contra Venezuela son cada día más graves,
ahora hasta acucsan de ayudar Al Quaida. Sea lo que sea, esto puede ser
simplemente un preámbulo para una mayor actuación de los EE.UU. en los
asuntos de los dos países. El artículo tiene fecha del diez de octubre.
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