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JFK Plot: The Guyana Surprise

When the story of the JFK plot broke, perhaps the biggest surprise was the implication of a former minister of parliament from Guyana. Guyana seemed to come out of nowhere.

In 2006, the House Committee on Homeland Security released a report titled A Line In The Sand: Confronting The Threat at the Southwest Border (PDF). Within it is found the following paragraphs regarding terrorism, South America and how little we know about the convergence.

Furthermore, according to senior U.S. military and intelligence officials, Venezuela is emerging as a potential hub of terrorism in the Western Hemisphere, providing assistance to Islamic radicals from the Middle East and other terrorists.

General James Hill, commander of U.S. Southern Command, has warned the United States faces a growing risk from both Middle Eastern terrorists relocating to Latin America and terror groups originating in the region. General Hill said groups such as Hezbollah had established bases in Latin America. These groups are taking advantage of smuggling hotspots, such as the tri-border area of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, and Venezuela’s Margarita Island, to channel funds to terrorist groups around the world.

Venezuela is providing support—including identity documents—that could prove useful to radical Islamic groups, say some U.S. officials. The Venezuelan government has issued thousands of cedulas, the equivalent of Social Security cards, to people from places such as Cuba, Columbia, and Middle Eastern nations that host foreign terrorist organizations. The U.S. officials believe that the Venezuelan government is issuing the documents to people who should not be getting them and that some of these cedulas could be subsequently used to obtain Venezuelan passports and even American visas, which could allow the holder to elude immigration checks and enter the United States. Recently, several Pakistanis were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexican border with fraudulent Venezuelan documents.

“Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, has been clearly talking to Iran about uranium,” said a senior administration official quoted by the Washington Times. Chavez has made several trips to Iran and voiced solidarity with the country's hard-line mullahs. He has hosted Iranian officials in Caracas, endorsed Tehran's nuclear ambitions and expressed support for the insurgency in Iraq. The Times reports Venezuela is also talking with Hamas about sending representatives to Venezuela to raise money for the militant group's newly elected Palestinian government as Chavez seeks to build an anti-U.S. axis that also includes Fidel Castro's Cuba. “I am on the offensive,” Chavez said on the al Jazeera television network, “because attack is the best form of defense. We are waging an offensive battle….”

Given all that is happening in Chavez’s Venezuela, some American officials regret that terrorism is seen chiefly as a Middle East problem and that the United States needs to look looking to protect its southern flank. A U.S. intelligence official expressed concern that “Counterterrorism issues are not being aggressively pursued in this hemisphere.” Another intelligence official stated terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay are not being interrogated about connections to Latin America. The bottom line, when it comes to terrorism so close to U.S. shores, says the official, “We don’t even know what we don’t know.”

And hence, the sudden unexpected appearance of Guyana as a potential hub of terrorism support and finance. When the arrested in the JFK Airport plot include a powerful former member of Guyana's parliament, the usage of that individual's influence within and upon government there must be considered. Think "Passports."

With a source of authentic passports from an unsuspected country, who would need (or needed) to bother with using mules (human smugglers) to sneak across the Southern Border? Just hop a flight. The infiltration implications are potentially severe.


So since one of the alleged terrorists was a former member of the Guyana parliament, we should be worried about Venezuela? Guilt by association? How about Colombia then, it's in South America too?

Since there are no reports of terrorism in Venezuela and many, many reports of terrorism in Colombia - many involving forces allied to or actually in the government, wouldn't it make more sense to be worried about Colombia?

Sure Chavez is making friends with other nations who dislike American foreign policy - pretty normal behavior after the US tried to overthrow him and is constantly trash-talking about him.

Counter-terrorism issues are not being aggressively pursued anywhere by the Bush administration. Virtually everything they have done has helped create a recruiting bonanza for terrorists, not to mention the terrorist activities they have carried out directly.

I wonder if terrorist groups that operate out of South America will strike alliances with any of the drug cartels? The cartels already have established channels to move money, drugs, and people into and out of the country seemingly at will.

Jeff, what makes you believe that they haven't already made those alliances?

The drug cartels and the human smugglers use the same paths. To not believe that the narco-terrorists and the jihadist terrorists haven't linked up is to miss an entire and significant element of the dynamics of what we are facing.

And Kyle's observation about bypassing border security by entering through the Florida Keys is only the beginning. Steve's observations about passports and other documents being counterfeited is still another aspect of this to worry about.

With regard to the drug cartels, there are certainly already deals with them. Unless one has seen Mullah Omar's boys pushing heroin in dime bags in Washington heights, Queens, there are connections. I have read several reports in the past that do not come immediately to mind at current, but the connections are there.

In the Tri-Border Area of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, a Chinese mafia triad struck a deal with terrorists and shipped arms and ammunition into the Middle East under the guise of 'medical supplies.'

Although the Chinese Mafia in the TBA is characterized by internecine rivalries, it is known to collaborate with the Islamic terrorist groups in the region. At least two organizations— the Sung-I and Ming families—have engaged in illegal operations with the Egyptian al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya. The Sung-I family, which is based in the Paraguayan town of Hernandárias, used three photography and electronic businesses located in Ciudad del Este as fronts for its activities. In December 2000, Sung-I sold a shipment of munitions to the Islamic Group, sending it to Egypt by ship as "medical equipment." The Cameroon-flagged vessel was intercepted in the Cypriot port of Limasol. The Ming family managed Islamic Group funds from Ciudad del Este [Paraguay] in the financial circuit that includes Guyana and the Cayman Islands. An example of collaboration between the Chinese Mafia and Islamic terrorist groups in the TBA is the distribution chain for counterfeit manufacture of mass-market items, such as toys, running from Hong Kong to Hizballah extremists.

There are all sorts of nefarious activities going on in the tri-border area (TBA), and the terrorists are engaged in most if not all and exploit every relationship that benefits their aims.

I don't think Jeff has missed anything about the dynamics there, Jay. He likely has not seen anything definitive and is not prepared to make the overt leap in statement. That'd be my guess, (but far short of speaking for you, Jeff.)

Charles, after what Hugo Chavez said about the President of the United States on the floor of the assembled United Nations, are you seriously going to lecture us on "constantly trash-talking" about Chavez?

Sorry. That dog won't hunt. Not here anyway.

Nuances, but I what I wrote was that not believing in the connection would lead to missing a big element in dynamics of what's happening. Doesn't really matter, I guess, though.

In my opinion, this situation suggests a number of critical emerging patterns, including the blending of the narcos with the jihadis. Motives, money and means.

Jay, I'm not sure how I managed to give you the wrong impression about my query regarding possible allegiances between the drug cartels and terrorist groups. I'm certainly not ruling it out, nor do I think it's unlikely. On the contrary, if I were part of a terrorist cell, I'd be making my pitch to some of the mid-sized drug cartels that haven't been targeted or infiltrated by DHS or ICE yet; probably in Mexico.

Steve, thanks for posting the info about the Chinese mafia in the TBA. That was very interesting. And you were right - I haven't read anything definitive yet about terrorist groups and the Cartels, and I don't like to jump in with both feet until I'm a little surer of the depth of the water under me. HOWEVER, know that my interest is tweaked, I'm going to start digging.