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Israel's Latin American trail of terror

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  • ummyakoub
    Israel s Latin American trail of terror --- Israelis did the dirty work for the United States by Jeremy Bigwood Thursday 05 June 2003 8:18 PM GMT I learned an
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 9 6:15 PM
      Israel's Latin American trail of terror --- Israelis did the dirty
      work for the United States
      by Jeremy Bigwood
      Thursday 05 June 2003 8:18 PM GMT

      "I learned an infinite amount of things in Israel, and to that
      country I owe part of my essence, my human and military achievements"
      said Colombian paramilitary leader and indicted drug trafficker
      Carlos Castao in his ghostwritten autobiography, Mi Confesin. Castao,
      who leads the Colombian paramilitaries, known by their Spanish
      acronym AUC, the largest right-wing paramilitary force to ever exist
      in the western hemisphere reveals that he was trained in the arts of
      war in Israel as a young man of 18 in the 1980s. He glowingly
      adds: "I copied the concept of paramilitary forces from the
      Israelis," in his chapter-long account of his Israel experiences.
      Castao's right-wing Phalange-like AUC force is now by far the worst
      human rights violator in all of the Americas, and ties between that
      organisation and Israel are continually surfacing in the press.
      Outside the law

      The AUC paramilitaries are a fighting force that originally grew out
      of killers hired to protect drug-running operations and large
      landowners. They were organised into a cohesive force by Castao in
      1997. It exists outside the law but often coordinates its actions
      with the Colombian military, in a way similar to the relationship of
      the Lebanese Phalange to the Israeli army throughout the 1980s and

      According to a 1989 Colombian Secret Police intelligence report,
      apart from training Carlos Castao in 1983, Israeli trainers arrived
      in Colombia in 1987 to train him and other paramilitaries who would
      later make up the AUC. Fifty of the paramilitaries' "best" students
      were then sent on scholarships to Israel for further training
      according to a Colombian police intelligence report, and the AUC
      became the most prominent paramilitary force in the hemisphere, with
      some 10,000-12,000 men in arms. Colombian paramilitaries were trained
      by Tel Aviv The Colombian AUC paramilitaries are always in need of
      arms, and it should come as no surprise that some of their major
      suppliers are Israeli. Israeli arms dealers have long had a presence
      in next-door Panama and especially in Guatemala.

      In May of last year, GIRSA, an Israeli company associated with the
      Israeli Defence Forces and based in Guatemala was able to buy 3000
      Kalashnikov assault rifles and 2.5 million rounds of ammunition that
      were then handed over to AUC paramilitaries in Colombia.

      Links with the continent
      Israel's military relations with right-wing groups and regimes spans
      Latin America from Mexico to the southernmost tip of Chile, starting
      just a few years after the Israeli state came into existence. Since
      then, the list of countries Israel has supplied, trained and advised
      includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican
      Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras,
      Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. But it isn't only
      the sales of planes, guns and weapons system deals that characterises
      the Israeli presence in Latin America. Where Israel has excelled is
      in advising, training and running intelligence and counter-insurgency
      operations in the Latin American "dirty war" civil conflicts of
      Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and now Colombia.

      In the case of the Salvadoran conflict - a civil war between the
      right-wing landowning class supported by a particularly violent
      military pitted against left-wing popular organisations - the
      Israelis were present from the beginning. Besides arms sales, they
      helped train ANSESAL, the secret police who were later to form the
      framework of the infamous death squads that would kill tens of
      thousands of mostly civilian activists.

      From 1975 to 1979, 83% of El Salvador's military imports came from
      Israel, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research
      Institute. By 1981, many of those in the civilian popular political
      movements who had survived the death squads headed for the hills to
      become guerrillas. By 1981 there was an open civil war in El Salvador
      which took over a decade to resolve through negotiations. Even though
      the US was openly backing the Salvadoran Army by 1981, as late as
      November 1983 it was asking for more Israeli "practical assistance"
      there, according to a declassified secret document obtained recently
      by Aljazeera.

      Among the assistance asked for were helicopters, trucks, rifles,
      ammunition, and combat infantry advisors to work at both the "company
      and battalion level of the Salvadoran Army". One notable Salvadoran
      officer trained by the Israelis was Major Roberto D'Aubuisson, who
      always held a high opinion of the Israelis. It was Major D'Aubuisson
      who ordered the assassination of El Salvador's archbishop amongst
      thousands of other murders. Later he would organise the right-wing
      National Republican Alliance Party (ARENA) and send his son to study
      abroad in the relative safety of Israel.

      Dirty war
      Amazingly, while the Israelis were training the El Salvadoran death
      squads they were also supporting the anti-semitic Argentine military
      government of the late 1970s and early 1980s - at a time when that
      government was involved in another "dirty war" of death squads and
      In 1978, Nicaragua's dictator Somoza was making his last stand
      against a general uprising of the Sandinista-led population who were
      sick of his family's dynasty which had ruled and monopolised the
      county for half a century. The Israelis and the US had been supplying
      Somoza with weapons for years. But when President Jimmy Carter came
      into office in 1976 he ordered a cessation of all US military
      assistance to Nicaragua. Filling the void, the Israelis immediately
      increased their weapons supplies to Somoza until he fled the country
      when the Sandinistas took power.

      Israeli operatives then helped train right-wing Nicaraguan Contras in
      Honduran and Costa Rican camps to fight the Sandinista government,
      according to Colombian police intelligence reports Aljazeera has
      obtained. At least some of the same Israeli operatives had also
      previously trained the nucleus of the paramilitary organisations that
      would become the AUC in Colombia.

      But by far the bloodiest case of Israeli involvement in Latin America
      was its involvement in Guatemala from the 1970s to the 1990s. As in
      El Salvador, a civil war pitted a populist but, in this case, mainly
      Indian left against a mainly European oligarchy protected by a brutal
      Mestizo Army. As Guatemalan President Carlos Arana said in 1971, "If
      it is necessary to turn the country into a cemetery in order to
      pacify it, I will not hesitate to do so."

      Active involvement
      The Israelis supplied Guatemala with Galil rifles, and built an
      ammunition factory for them, as well as supplying armoured personnel
      carriers and Arava planes. Behind the scenes, they were actively
      involved in the bloodiest counter-insurgency campaign the hemisphere
      has known since the European conquest, in which at least 200,000
      (mostly Indians) were killed. Like Israel's original occupation of
      Palestine, several entire Guatemalan Indian villages were razed and a
      million people displaced. "The guerrilla is the fish. The people are
      the sea. If you cannot catch the fish, you have to drain the sea,"
      said Guatemalan President Rios Montt in 1982. Guatemalan army
      officers credit Israeli support with turning the tide against the
      uprising, not only in the countryside where Israeli counter-
      insurgency techniques and assistance set up strategic-hamlet-
      like "development poles" along the lines of the Israeli kibbutz, but
      also in the cities where "Israeli communication technicians and
      instructors" working through then-sophisticated computers were able
      to locate and then decimate guerrillas and their supporters in
      Guatemala City in 1981.

      From the late 1970s until the 1990s, the US could not overtly support
      the Guatemalan army because of its horrendous human rights record
      (although there was some covert support), but many in the US
      government, especially in the CIA, supported Israel in taking up the

      But the US grew to regret its actions. On 10 March 1999, US President
      Bill Clinton issued an apology for US involvement in the war:
      The "United States... support for military forces or intelligence
      units which engaged in violent and widespread repression...was
      wrong." No similar statement has ever been forthcoming from the

      At the present time, the only major insurgency war in Latin America
      is in Colombia, where Israel has an overt involvement. Besides the
      dozen or so Kfir IAI C-7 jet fighters they have sold the
      Colombian government, and the Galil rifles produced in Bogota under
      licence, most of the Israeli ties to the government's counter-
      insurgency war are closely-guarded secrets. Aljazeera's attempts to
      obtain clarification on these and other issues for this story were
      stonewalled by the Israeli embassy in Washington.

      Why does Israel continue to provide arms and expertise to the pariahs
      of the world? Clearly, part of the reason is the revenues produced by
      arms sales, and part of it has do with keeping up with trends in
      counter-insurgent war across the globe. But another factor is what is
      demanded of Israel by the world's only superpower, the US, in partial
      exchange for the superpower's continued support for Israeli dominance
      in the Middle East. Assistance

      This relationship can be best illustrated by recently declassified
      1983 US government documents obtained by the Washington, DC-based
      National Security Archives through the Freedom of Information Act.
      One such declassified document is a 1983 memo from the notorious
      Colonel Oliver North of the Reagan Administration's National Security
      Council and reads: "As discussed with you yesterday, I asked CIA,
      Defense, and State to suggest practical assistance which the Israelis
      might offer in Guatemala and El Salvador." Another document, this
      time a 1983 cable from the US Ambassador in Guatemala to Washington
      Frederic Chapin shows the money trail. He says that at a time when
      the US did not want to be seen directly assisting Guatemala, "we have
      reason to believe that our good friends the Israelis are prepared, or
      already have, offered substantial amounts of military equipment to
      the GOG (Government of Guatemala) on credit terms up to 20 years...(I
      pass over the importance of making huge concessionary loans to Israel
      so that it can make term loans in our own backyard)."

      In other words, during civil wars in which the US does not want to be
      seen getting its hands dirty in Latin America, the superpower loans
      Israel money at a very good rate, and then Israel uses these funds to
      do the "dirty work". In this regard, in Latin America at least,
      Israel has become the hit-man for the US.
      By Jeremy Bigwood

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