Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why is Cuba on the state sponsors of terrorism list?

NY Daily News Photo By Harry Hamburg
1975 Fraunces Tavern bombing committed by Cuban backed FALN

Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”

Federal Bureau of Investigation Counterterrorism Division

"If we decide to carry out terrorism, it is a sure thing we would be efficient. But the mere fact that the Cuban revolution has never implemented terrorism does not mean that we renounce it. We would like to issue this warning."

Fidel Castro, Address to the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) 1976

On March 1, 1982 the Cuban dictatorship was placed on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. less than three months after the US State Department confirmed that the Castro regime was using a narcotics ring to funnel both arms and cash to the Colombian M19 terrorist group then battling to overthrow Colombia’s democratic government. Despite the dictator's claim in the above quote and video the Cuban dictatorship has a long and shameful history of sponsoring and taking part in terrorism including utilizing the tactic in the struggle against dictator Fulgencio Batista. On New Year’s Eve in 1956 members of the Castros 26th of July movement set off bombs in the Tropicana, blowing off the arm of a seventeen-year-old girl. From bombings, killings, and arson in 1957 to a botched hijacking to smuggle weapons to the Cuban guerrillas that led to 14 dead and the night of the 100 bombs in 1958 . The organizer of the bombing campaign Sergio González López nicknamed “El Curita” and the terrorist action itself are remembered fondly by the dictatorship that named a park in his honor along with a plaque pictured below. Regime apologists now deny that anyone was wounded or killed but the memories of those who lived through this say otherwise. González López was captured, tortured, and killed by agents of the Batista dictatorship on March 18, 1958. A pro-Cuban dictatorship website recalls some of El Curita's actions:
“He actively participated in the actions of the burning of Standard Oil; the bombing of Bejucal Railway Station cable, the cable from the Bus Station, the explosion of Vento, in the action of the Tunnel and the explosion of 120 coordinated bombings in Havana, which in a telephone phone call on this occasion to the chief of police, he told him “Coward, prepare your ear tonight ... we are going to explode 100 bombs under your own noses.
The dictatorship has practiced, trained, and even published manuals with chapters on how to engage in terrorism and to never renounce it, and on more than one occasion has targeted the United States.

Sergio González López nicknamed “El Curita” (1922-1958)

Plaque erected by Cuban dictatorship to honor
terrorist bomber Sergio González López nicknamed “El Cu

On November 17, 1962 the FBI seized a cache of explosives and incendiary devices in a Manhattan loft, arresting three Cubans, Roberto Santiesteban Casanova an attaché of Cuba’s United Nations mission, whose application for diplomatic immunity had not yet been approved, Jose Garcia Orellana, 42 who operated the Manhattan jewelry manufacturing shop where the arsenal was seized, and Marino Antonio Esteban del Carmen Sueiro y Cabrera 22, a college student who worked part time at the shop. and charged them with planning to place bombs in stores, oil refineries, and the New York subway system. The State Department requested that two Cuban diplomatic attaches, Jose Gomez Abad, 21 and his wife Elsa, 20, leave the country because they had supplied weapons but could not be arrested they both had diplomatic immunity. According to the Associated Press story dated November 20, 1962 they had planned to unleash a reign of terror in metropolitan New York. This incident was prevented but at least one other terrorist act on American soil documented later in this paper was executed by Cuban agents and the terrorist group to which the Cuban government provided financial and logistical support.

The Cuban government has an effective propaganda and intelligence apparatus that it deploys not only to deny its own past but to smear their opponents. The fact is that Cuba's democratic opposition on the island since the mid-1970s abandoned political violence and began with the founding of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights the long non-violent struggle against a brutal and violent dictatorship. There are a large number of prisoners of conscience recognized by Amnesty International and the third largest number of imprisoned journalists in the world. The issue of terrorism is in the news again along with dictatorship's place on the list of state sponsors of terrorism which has generated another public debate over whether or not the Cuban regime merits being placed on the list. The answer in short: It does. Before briefly reviewing some of the regime's past bad practices it is worthwhile to review what brought us into this public conversation.

On Christmas day 23-year old Nigerian student Abdul Farouk Mutallab
on Flight 253 of Northwest Airlines flying to Detroit set himself on fire while trying to blow up the commercial jet. According to the Nigerian paper Compass less than 72 hours, after the arrest of Farouk Mutallab, another suspected Nigerian terrorist was arrested on the same aircraft carrying 256 passengers after engaging in suspicious behavior. Later it was learned that the father of Farouk Mutallab had reported his concern that his son had been "radicalized" to the U.S. Embassy there and that intelligence officials in the United States deemed the information insufficient to pursue. According to the Washington Post Farouk Mutallab's name was added to a half-million entries in a computer database in McLean and largely forgotten. Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum has raised important questions about the Department of Homeland Security and accountability resulting from this latest episode.

On January 3, 2010 the Transportation Security Administration released a new directive outlining new security measures which in part states:

Because effective aviation security must begin beyond our borders, and as a result of extraordinary cooperation from our global aviation partners, TSA is mandating that every individual flying into the U.S. from anywhere in the world traveling from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest will be required to go through enhanced screening.
According to the US State Department countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are considered state sponsors. Below is the current list of countries and the dates they were added to the list:


Designation Date


March 1, 1982


January 19, 1984


August 12, 1993


December 29, 1979

In addition to the four listed above ten additional countries are considered by US authorities to be prone to terrorism and will also be subject to heightened s
ecurity measures: Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan.

The Cuban regime has denounced the measure as "anti-terrorist paranoia", and in today's Washington Post there is an opinion column by Eugene Robinson taking issue with Cuba being on this list arguing that the dictatorship is not a failed state where swaths of territory lie beyond government control and that there is no history of radical islam there.

The timing of the opinion piece is unfortunate considering that the imprisoned Cuban trained terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez known as Carlos the Jackal in a January 3rd interview in Spain's El País stated that he regretted nothing and later on in the same interview described Osama Bin Laden as an idealist expressing his respect for the author of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Ramírez Sánchez, Venezuelan by birth, was described by Venezuelan "president" Hugo Chavez as a "revolutionary fighter" in November of 2009. According to French intelligence services Ramírez Sánchez is responsible for more than 80 deaths. He is not a practitioner of militant Islam nor does he come from a failed state he is a militant Marxist Leninist and an avowed terrorist. Ilich Ramírez Sánchez attended and is a product of a Cuban initiative held in Havana in 1966 called the Tricontinental Conference where Fidel Castro insisted that "conditions exist for an armed revolutionary struggle." The aim of the Tricontinental, according to Georges Fauriol in Cuba:the international dimension, was to promote violent revolution in Africa and Asia as well as Latin America: “At this conference, Cuba and Latin American Marxist Leninist terrorist groups began their collaboration with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and other radical Arab groups in the training and arming of terrorists."

Gerardo Jorge Schamís in his book
War and terrorism in international affairs describes how in the summer of 1975 the disappearance of “Carlos” who killed his assistant and two members of the French secret service led to the expulsion of three Cuban diplomats from Paris and greater surveillance of the activities of Cuban agents in Europe. According to Jorge Schamís the terrorists had concealed their “modus operandi” since 1976 in Paris in offices of the Revolutionary Coordination Board (JCR) which on the surface sought to obtain solidarity from European democracies to condemn authoritarian regimes in Latin America but in reality it was a documentation center producing forged passports; raise money for clandestine operations and were connected to terrorist training camps in Cuba: “opened in 1966 by the Dirección General de Inteligencia (DGI) , the Cuban regime's main intelligence agency, under the supervision of the Soviet KGB after the Tricontinental Conference in Havana, to "organize anti-imperialist forces.”

There are links between the Cuban dictatorship and international terrorists such as Uruguayan Tupamaros, the Argentinian Montoneros and ERP , the Chilean MIR, the M19, a Colombian guerilla group that captured the Dominican embassy and Justice building in Bogota assasinating several prominent judges, FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) in 2003, the FARC conducted a February car-bombing of a Bogota nightclub that killed more than 30 persons and wounded more than 160, the Basque terrorist/separatist organization ETA, and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) which has its Latin American headquarters in Havana and has been linked with the FARC.

The dictatorship a few years later had Cuban agents assisting the Macheteros (FALN) who committed terrorist attacks and bank robberies in the United States including bombings; among them the 1975 bombing of Fraunces Tavern in New York which killed four instantly and injured 63.
On December 31, 1982, New York City was the scene of a wave of bombings by the Macheteros (FALN): Federal Courthouse at 26 Federal Plaza; a Police Officer at One Police Plaza lost part of his leg when another bomb went off there; a bomb tore into the Federal Courthouse at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn; two other devices were discovered in St. Andrew's Plaza beside the Federal Courthouse at Foley Square, the NYPD Bomb Squad sealed off the area and was preparing to disarm the device when it exploded severely injuring two officers were. In 1983 the Cuban government provided financial and logistical support for the Wells Fargo armored car robbery which netted the Macheteros $7.1 million dollars of which $2 million made its way back to Cuba via a diplomatic pouch. The whole story is detailed in a Hartford Courant investigative piece published in 1999.

The University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies in 2004 published a chronology of Cuban government involvement in terrorism covering between 1959 and 2003. For example, their report lists how in 1970 the Cuban government published the "Mini Manual for Revolutionaries" in the official Latin American Solidarity Organization (LASO) publication Tricontinental, written by Brazilian urban terrorist Carlos Marighella, which gives precise instructions in terror tactics, kidnappings, etc. and translated into numerous languages which were distributed worldwide by the Cuban dictatorship. There is a chapter on terrorism:

Terrorism is an action, usually involving the placement of an explosive or firebomb of great destructive power, which is capable of effecting irreparable loss against the enemy. Terrorism requires that the urban guerrilla should have adequate theoretical and practical knowledge of how to make explosives. The terrorist act, apart from the apparent ease with which it can be carried out, is no different from other guerrilla acts and actions whose success depends on planning and determination. It is an action which the urban guerrilla must execute with the greatest calmness and determination. Although terrorism generally involves an explosion, there are cases in which it may be carried out through executions or the systematic burning of installations, properties, plantations, etc. It is essential to point out the importance of fires and the construction of incendiary devices such as gasoline bombs in the technique of guerrilla terrorism. Another thing is the importance of the material the urban guerrilla can persuade the people to expropriate in the moments of hunger and scarcity brought about by the greed of the big commercial interests. Terrorism is a weapon the revolutionary can never relinquish.

Incidentally an online copy of the above mentioned text is displayed on the website of fugitive Assata Shakur who fled to Cuba in 1984 for the murder of a police officer.

"These are the victims of the tugboat! Victims of a cruel tyrant that claims to be the defender of women and children in Cuba" - from poster made by relatives of the 37 victims of the July 13, 1994 tugboat sinking carried out by government agents.

State terrorism and sponsorship of terrorism is not just an export but has also been used against Cuban nationals. Government organized lynchings in the 1980 Mariel Crisis would become known as Acts of Repudiation and used repeatedly up and until the present day with Rapid Response Brigades organized in 1991 to systematize the brutalization and intimidation of Cuban nationals who do not follow the government line. When Cubans have tried to leave as in the case of the July 13, 1994 tugboat massacre in which 37 where extrajudicially executed or the murder in international airspace of four members of Brothers to the Rescue, an organization that provided humanitarian assistance to fleeing rafters blown to bits by Cuban MiGs on February 24, 1996. Both crimes have been documented and reported on.

The revolutionary values that inspired Carlos the Jackal continue on today and have a popular icon, Che Guevara, who at that same 1966 Tricontinental conference made the following call to arms: "We must carry the war into every corner the enemy happens to carry it: to his home, to his centers of entertainment; a total war. It is necessary to prevent him from having a moment of peace, a quiet moment outside his barracks or even inside; we must attack him wherever he may be; make him feel like a cornered beast wherever he may move."

The relationship between the Cuban dictatorship and Middle Eastern groups and regimes organized at the Tricontinental are profound.
Cuba cooperated with Libya in the founding of the World Mathaba, a terrorist movement. This relationship extended beyond terrorism when 500 Cuban tank commanders participated in the 1973 Yom Kippur war, a surprise attack on Israel, on the Syrian side. The Cuban dictatorship has had close relations with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and others in the Middle East. This led in the 1980s to PLO and Libyan support for the Nicaraguan Sandinistas and in 2010 it is seen in the close network of alliances between Iran, the PLO, Cuba, Nicaragua and most visibly with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

In the case of sub-Sahara Africa the Tricontinental Conference had a major impact according to
Sulayman S. Nyang, Professor of African Studies at Howard University stated before a Congressional Subcommittee:
Yet, until the Tricontinental Conference of 1966 in Havana, Cuba, sub-Sahara Africa did not witness any major forms of political violence one can now, retrospectively, call terrorism. Up until the Havana conference, which declared the justifiability of violence in waging wars of national liberation, the African liberation movements took the path of nonviolence to fight for political independence.
All this information is publicly available, but you won't find it in threat assessments prepared by the US government. Why? Because the author of the last threat assessment is Ana Belen Montes who worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency but in reality had been working for the Cuban intelligence service since 1985 until her arrest on September 21, 2001. Not to mention the recent arrest and prosecution of Walter Kendall Meyers who had spied for the Cuban government from within the US State Department for thirty years.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Not all terrorists are Al Qaeda. The Cuban government of the Castro brothers has a long history of engaging in state terrorism and sponsoring international terrorism. As one can read in the article above the 1966 Tricontinental Conference organized in Havana by the Cuban regime brought urban guerrillas and terrorists from around the world in support of violent revolution. Following the meeting the Cuban intelligence service set up terrorist training tanks and an international support network.

  3. Post well done John. Thank you!