Monday, March 10, 2008

The trouble down South American way

The Wall Street Journal's The FARC Files is a very good piece on the mischief Hugo Chavez and his pals are up to - financed by oil and drug money:
Colombia's precision air strike 10 days ago, on a guerrilla camp across the border in Ecuador, killed rebel leader Raúl Reyes. That was big. But the capture of his computer may turn out to be a far more important development in Colombia's struggle to preserve its democracy.

Reyes was the No. 2 leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which has been at war with the Colombian government for more than four decades. His violent demise is a fitting end to a life devoted to masterminding atrocities against civilians. But the computer records expose new details of the terrorist strategy to bring down the government of Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, including a far greater degree of collaboration between the FARC and four Latin heads of government than had been previously known. In addition to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, they are President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega and Bolivian President Evo Morales.
Sure enough, when the Colombian national police retrieved Reyes's body from Ecuador, it also brought back several computers from the camp. Documents on those laptops show that Mr. Chávez and Reyes were not only ideological comrades, but also business partners and political allies in the effort to wrest power from Mr. Uribe.

The tactical discussions found in the documents are hair-raising enough. They show that the FARC busies itself with securing arms and explosives, selling cocaine, and otherwise financing its terrorism operations through crime. In a memo last month, for example, a rebel leader discussed the FARC's efforts to secure 50 kilos of uranium, which it hoped to sell to generate income. In the same note, there is a reference to "a man who supplies me material for the explosive we are preparing, his name is Belisario and he lives in Bogotá . . ."

Though it is far from clear, Colombian national police speculated from this that a dirty bomb could be in the making. An April 2007 letter to the FARC secretariat lays out the terrorists' effort to acquire missiles from Lebanon. When Viktor Bout, allegedly one of the world's most notorious arms traffickers, was arrested in Thailand on Thursday, the Spanish-language press reported that he was located thanks to the Reyes computer files.

The maneuvers of thugs seeking power are no surprise. The more significant revelation is the relationship between the FARC and Mr. Chávez, Mr. Correa, Mr. Morales and Mr. Ortega. All four, it turns out, support FARC violence and treachery against Mr. Uribe.

According to the documents, Mr. Chávez's friendship with the FARC dates back at least as far as 1992, when he was in jail for an attempted coup d'etat in Venezuela and the FARC sent him $150,000. Now he is returning the favor, by financing the terrorist group with perhaps as much as $300 million. But money is the least important of the Chávez gifts. He is also using his presidential credentials on behalf of the FARC.
UPDATE: See Betsy Newmark's post on The "New Israel" of South America.

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