Iran, Cuba and Venezuela have developed a close and cooperative relationship
against the U.S. and in support of terrorist groups and states. The
three regimes increasingly coordinate their policies and resources in
a three way partnership aimed at counteracting and circumventing U.S.
policies in the Middle East and Latin America. Within this relationship,
Cuba plays a strategic role in terms of geography (proximity to the
U.S.), intelligence gathering (both electronic eavesdropping and human
espionage) and logistics.
In addition to its proven technical prowess to interfere and intercept
U.S. telecommunications, Cuba has deployed around the world a highly
effective human intelligence network. The type of espionage carried
out by Ana Belén Montes, the senior U.S. defense intelligence
analyst who spied for Cuba during some 16 years until her arrest in
2001, has enabled the Castro regime to amass a wealth of intelligence
on U.S. vulnerabilities as well as a keen understanding of the inner-workings
of the U.S. security system.
Such information and analysis was provided to Saddam Hussein prior
to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and is being provided to a strategic ally
like Iran. While one may argue that factors such as Iran’s limited
military capabilities and sheer distance diminish any conventional concerns,
one should expect that Tehran, in case of a U.S.-Iran conflict would
launch an asymmetrical offensive against the U.S. and its European allies
through surrogate terrorist states and paramilitary organizations. In
such a scenario, Cuban intelligence would be invaluable to Iran and
its proxies and Cuban territory could be used by terrorist groups to
launch operations against the U.S.
In specific terms Cuba has not abandoned its support for terrorist
groups and states:
- Cuba directly and through Venezuela continues to provide intelligence
to Hamas and Hezbollah.
- Two Arab shiites, Ghazi Nasr Al din and Fawzi Kanaan have set-up
shop in Caracas, Venezuela under the protection of the Venezuelan
government. Working in coordination with the Cuban government, both
are active in promoting Hezbollah and Iranian targets in South America
and against the U.S. They fundraise for Hezbollah, facilitate travel
for Hezbollah activists to Venezuela and through Venezuela to other
countries. This is all part of the strategic alliance between Venezuela,
Cuba and Iran.
- Cuban military officers are acting as liaison between Venezuelan
military and the narco-guerrillas of the Colombian FARC. Cuban General
Leonardo Ramon Andollo, Chief of Operations of the Cuban MINFAR (Ministry
of the Armed Forces), has visited Venezuela and acted as a go between
the Cuban and Venezuelan military involved in drug trafficking. (1)
- Current and former members of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA),
a Basque terrorist organization continue to reside in Cuba. While
some of these terrorists are on the island as part of an accord between
the Cuban and Spanish governments, others are hiding in Cuba, fugitives
of Spanish justice. In February 2015, the Spanish government requested
one more time the extradition from Cuba of two ETA terrorists, Jose
Angel Urtiaga Martinez and Jose Ignacio Etxarte Urbieta. The two have
lived in Cuba since the 1980s and are wanted by Spanish Justice. In
addition to these two there are four other ETA members living in Cuba:
two with the knowledge of the Spanish government and two, Miguel Angel
Apalategui "Apala" and Joseba Sarrionandia, without Cuba
admitting that they are in the island.
- The FBI estimates that Cuba has provided safe harbor to dozens of
fugitives from U.S. justice who live on the island under the protection
of the Castro regime. Some of these fugitives are charged with or
have been convicted of murder, kidnapping, and hijacking, and they
include notorious killers of police officers in New Jersey and New
Mexico, most prominent among them Joanne Chesimard, placed by the
FBI in 2013 on the "Most Wanted Terrorist List." The FBI
is offering one million dollars for information leading to her apprehension.
- Other terrorists fugitive of the U.S. living in Cuba include Ishmael
LaBeet, one of the five men convicted of the infamous Fountain Valley
Massacre, a racially tinged 1972 armed robbery in the Virgin Islands
that turned into mass murder, with eight dead. William Morales, the
master bomb-maker of the Puerto Rican separatist group FALN, which
set off 140 or so blasts around the United States during the 1970s
and 1980s, killing at least six people. Victor Gerena, an armed robber
working for another Puerto Rican separatist group, who is believed
to have taken the proceeds of a $7 million heist to Cuba with him.
Charles Hill who in 1971 hijacked a civilian plane carrying 49 passengers
and fled to Cuba. Hill is also wanted for the 1971 murder of New Mexico
State Police officer Robert Rosenbloom. Frank Terpil, a former CIA
officer and convicted arms trafficker who is wanted for providing
more than 20 tons of plastic explosives to the late Libyan dictator
- In mid 2013, the Castro regime was caught smuggling weapons out
of Cuba on a North Korean vessel in violation of UN sanctions. Cuba
lied to the international community about the content of the vessel.
The official UN Report on "Cuba-North Korea Illegal Weapons Trafficking,"
published in March 2014, revealed "a comprehensive, planned strategy
to conceal the existence and nature of the cargo." The Report
concluded, contrary to Cuba's allegations, that "some, if not
all, of the consignment was not expected to be returned to Cuba."
- In 2014 former Cuban intelligence official, Uberto Mario, described
how the Castro regime is training Venezuelan "Tupamaros,"
pro-Maduro groups who violently attack Venezuelan students.
- Managed by Cubans and Venezuelans sympathetic to Cuba, Venezuela's
immigration system, "Misión Identidad," facilitates
the entry of Cuban agents into Venezuela. Cubans also control SAIME
(Servicio de Identificacion, Migracion y Extranjeria, Caracas) which
facilitates the travel of drug organizations, Colombian guerrillas,
and Islamist terrorists. Cuba also has on the island duplicate Venezuelan
forms and stamps to issue passports and identifications to these groups.
- Warranting special mention are the outstanding U.S. indictments
against Cuban Air Force pilots Lorenzo Alberto Pérez-Pérez,
Francisco Perez Perez and General Rubén Martínez Puente,
the head of the Cuban Air Force, who in 1996 shot down two unarmed
civilian American aircraft over international waters in the Florida
Straits. That act of terrorism, ordered by Fidel and Raul Castro,
killed four men, three of them American citizens. The Castro brothers
personally accepted responsibility for the shot-down.
- In 2014 the Castro government decreed that it would now begin to
freeze bank assets affiliated to Al-Qaeda in Cuba. The Castro regime
thus tacitly admitted that they had been facilitating financing of
- "Hezbollah in Cuba," the Hamas-funded Turkish "charity"
known as IHH continues to operate in Havana. IHH is a member of the
"Union of Good," an umbrella organization that financially
- Iran's President has emphasized that "the Islamic Republic
of Iran and Cuba can play a significant role in international organizations.
Tehran and Havana share common viewpoints in major international issues."
- In 2014 Cuban First Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade described Iran
as a "strategic partner" of Cuba.
- On November 13, 2013 "Prensa Islamica" published an article
on Cuba-Iran growing relationship. The article explains that Cuba
has shared with Iran its "vast knowledge on intelligence"
and has discussed cooperation "on electromagnetic weapons capable
of sabotaging enemy communications."
In an attempt to obtain unilateral concession from the U.S., Gen.
Raul Castro’s regime has toned down some of the violent anti-U.S.
propaganda of older brother Fidel. Yet his commitments to and interrelationships
with anti-American terrorist groups have not disappeared. They have
taken a more sophisticated approach; many times using proxies such as
(1) See Pedro Roig, "Venezuela-Cuba Military Cooperation
and the Narco-Terrorsit Connection." Cuba Focus. Institute
for Cuban & Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. March 18,
**Foreign intelligence services have provided information
for this report.
*Jaime Suchlicki is Emilio Bacardi Moreau
Distinguished Professor and Director, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American
Studies, University of Miami. He is the author of Cuba: From Columbus
to Castro, now in its fifth edition; Mexico: From Montezuma to
the Rise of PAN, now in its second edition and the recently published
Breve Historia de Cuba.
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