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Is Osama Smiling?

The Terrorist Resumé of Luis Posada

by SAUL LANDAU

Logic dictates that Luis Posada Carriles has become an Al Qaeda agent. This would explain his recent behavior. Posada’s resumé contains a long list of terrorist "accomplishments." So, why did he return surreptitiously to the United States, where he had not resided regularly since the late 1960s, and then after reports of his presence began to embarrass Homeland Security, turned himself in and ask for asylum? I say Al Qaeda recruited him.

Posada embodies violence as Gandhi stood for nonviolence. At age 77 and supposedly suffering from the aftereffects of a bullet fired into his face in Guatemala in 1990 by an unknown gunman, Posada may finally achieve a sense of satisfaction ­ as a result of his switching vocations from failed terrorist plotter out to kill Castro to an agent of strategically successful terrorists out to weaken the United States.

In his jail cell, Posada might reflect, not on his long and frustrating career as an assassin who tried to destroy Castro, but on the subtle victory his new masters are achieving against the loathsome Bush family. These pseudo aristocrats made big promises about liberating Cuba, but took action instead against Iraq, which has become a major training center for new terrorists.

By returning to the United States in the midst of Bush’s war against terrorism, Posada embarrasses the Bushies. If Bush grants him asylum, he sets a terrible precedent for his war against terrorism, which has suffered serious setbacks already.

Bush’s "Coalition of the Willing" partners drop out of the Iraq debacle, and his credibility slips. Now, Posada has forced Bush to decide on terrorist criteria: acceptable acts of terrorism carried out against Cuba versus unacceptable ones undertaken against the United States and its allies.

Al Qaeda knew about Posada. After all, he had confided to journalists and others that for four decades he had worked on and off with the CIA to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro. In 1971, his intimacy with the Agency led them to develop a gun inside a 16 mm newsreel film camera. Working with Antonio Veciana, another wanna-be Castro assassin, Posada hired two Venezuelan hit men to pose as reporters and travel to Santiago, Chile several months before the Cuban leader’s planned visit to that country. In this way, the assassins could blend in casually with the foreign press corps. The ersatz news crew, carrying two cameras, an ordinary film machine and the CIA-made lethal weapon, nervously awaited Castro’s arrival

In 1995, Veciana told me how the assassins aimed the special camera primed to fire a lethal bullet at Castro. But they also noticed Castro’s security forces covering the exits. This gave them compelling second thoughts.

Posada, disgusted over this failure, sent the killer camera to Caracas and hired different assassins. When Castro stopped in the Venezuelan capital on his return route to Cuba, the hired killers didn’t even show up.

In the mid 1970s, Veciana quit the assassination business. But Posada pressed on.

In 1976, Posada, obsessed with the idea of doing irreparable damage to Cuba, revised his assassination strategy. His successive failures led him to concentrate on an easier target, a Cuban commercial airliner.

Again, Posada, now working with Orlando Bosch, another obsessed Castro-hater, hired two Venezuelan killers to detonate a bomb on board a Cubana flight over Barbados. 73 passengers and crew members died. The police arrested the hired weasels who ratted on Posada and off he went to a Venezuelan prison where he sat while courts and elected officials played politics with his case. After a decade of inconclusive judicial proceedings, Posada’s Miami buddies bribed the prison officials and Posada "escaped" to Central America, where he worked for Lt. Col. Oliver North in supplying the Contras in their CIA-backed attempt to overthrow the Nicaraguan government.

Well, it was not quite trying to kill Castro or blow up airplanes, but after 10 years in prison it wasn’t a bad job and Central American was a place where he could begin again to plot against his arch enemy. Then, in 1990 in Guatemala, an unknown gunman shot Posada in the face. He recovered, but didn’t regain full use of his voice.

Even that didn’t stop him. In 1997, he recruited a Salvadoran to bomb hotels in Cuba. One of them killed an Italian tourist. Cuban cops grabbed the Salvadoran, who named Posada as his employer.

Posada even boasted about his violence against Cuban tourism to two NY Times reporters in July 1998. How did he feel about killing the innocent civilian, they asked? "I sleep like a baby," he replied.

In 1999, beginning to feel age and frustration as the ever elusive Castro still rode high, Posada planned his last hit. With three old ­ literally ­ and seasoned assassins, he traveled to Panama with explosives that he planned to detonate under the platform where Castro would be speaking. Again, someone informed the police, he and his cronies got caught, tried and convicted ­ but not of conspiring to assassinate. Rather, with Miami money pulling Panamanian judicial strings, a judge found them guilty of threatening public security and falsifying documents. In 2004, more Miami money bought Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso. She pardoned Posada during her last week in office. His cronies went to the United States. But Posada still had the Venezuelan airline charges hanging over his head. So, he hid in Honduras and, at age 77, thought about his few remaining years.

He had heard Bush’s post 9/11 inflammatory rhetoric. "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists," Bush insisted. Posada must have chuckled. Bush equated harboring terrorists with terrorism itself. Posada could easily test Bush’s convictions.

And FBI sources in Washington said: "ask ‘cui bono?’ Who benefits?" The FBI and CIA knew that Luis Posada sabotaged the Cuban airline job, the former Bureau man said. "And he admitted killing a tourist with a bomb."

So, I deduced that Posada changed targets, not professions. He remains a conspirator by nature who plans damage to his enemy. But his terrorism against Castro unlike Al Qaeda’s against the United States had only negative impact. But with Al Qaeda he can become a real player, one who puts Bush, not Castro, on the spot. So who benefits?

A May 11 San Francisco Chronicle editorial dramatized the point. "Washington is committed to stamping out terrorism, even detaining people on skimpy evidence and withholding legal rights. Though the charges are a generation old, Posada qualifies for the vigilant prosecution due a terrorist suspect, especially one with many past links to U.S. clandestine services."

Not extraditing or prosecuting him, the editorial continues, "undercuts worldwide respect and support for the war on terrorism."

Bush spokesmen, however, stated they would not extradite Posada to Venezuela. Because President Hugo Chavez’s enjoys close ties to Castro, they fear Posada might reveal how the Bush family protected him and other anti-Castro terrorists ­ during the Cold War years, of course. In 1989, George I even overruled the FBI and let Posada’s terrorist collaborator Orlando Bosch into the country.

So, Al Qaeda could have predicted that Bush would not extradite him. And Posada also felt confident that the Bushies would treat him gently, in contrast to those in Guantanamo. In the public trials that ensued, the world would hear Bush’s pledge to "rid the world of evil" as empty rhetoric.

Bush, speaking on September 14, 2001 at the National Cathedral, three days after the planes hit the twin towers and the Pentagon, claimed he had "a responsibility to history to answer these attacks."

But that "answer" had gone badly. Bush bombed to no avail ­ he killed a lot of civilians — and made empty threats. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda hit US allies in London, Madrid, Istanbul, Indonesia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.

Posada in his Panamanian jail cell was awestruck by these dramatic acts of terrorist power, to say nothing of 9/11 itself! What a vicarious thrill! The arch terrorist of the western hemisphere bowed to true masters.

The wily Bin Laden, seeking even recruits of the non-Muslim persuasion, especially if they possessed certified terrorist credentials like Posada, saw an ideal recruitment pool: Violent anti-Castro Cubans, the most committed, experienced and also frustrated group of terrorists in the world. They had bombed and burned for forty six years ­ for naught. Castro remains strong, perhaps stronger than ever.

Did Al Qaeda stage Posada’s illegal return to the United States earlier this year as a test? After all, Posada hid in Miami for several weeks and neither President Bush nor Florida Governor Jeb Bush tried to arrest him. Only after Posada called a press conference was Homeland Security embarrassed into arresting him ­ which they did gently.

Even in custody, Posada continued to weaken Bush, who owes huge debts to Cuban-Americans. They would scream "treason" if Bush delivered Posada to Venezuela, an ally of Cuba. What a dilemma. Is Bin Laden smiling?

SAUL LANDAU is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and an admirer of Jonathan Swift.





















CLARIFICATION

ALEXANDER COCKBURN, JEFFREY ST CLAIR, BECKY GRANT AND THE INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF JOURNALISTIC CLARITY, COUNTERPUNCH

We published an article entitled "A Saudiless Arabia" by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the "Article"), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the "Website").

Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.

As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.

We are pleased to clarify the position.

August 17, 2005