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Colombian Outlaw Fled to Israel

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    Report: Colombian militia leader smuggled into Israel By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent - June 1, 2004
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2004
      Report: Colombian militia leader smuggled into Israel

      By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent - June 1, 2004


      Carlos Castano, a right-wing militia leader in Colombia, was recently
      smuggled into Israel, AFP reported. The militia leader disappeared
      from Colombia on February 16 after the country's militias agreed to a
      government demand to disband. Castano, 39, was first moved to Panama
      under American guard and then sent to Israel, the according to the
      French news agency's report. The Colombian government refused to
      confirm or deny this report.

      The right-wing militias in Colombia waged a long battle against the
      left-wing underground organizations in the country, including ELN -
      the group that kidnapped four Israeli backpackers last year.

      Castano apparently left Colombia because he had become associated
      with the United States' efforts to combat the country's illicit drug
      business and his life was threatened. Another militia leader was
      murdered several days ago after being suspected of similar
      cooperation with the Americans.

      Venezuelan president says `invasion' planned in Miami and Colombia
      By Humberto Márquez
      The Final Call
      May 23, 2004

      Venezuelan president says U.S. played key role in '02 coup attempt
      (FCN, 03-5-2004)

      CARACAS (IPS/GIN) - Venezuela "has been invaded. We are facing a
      serious threat to the peace, integrity and security of this
      republic," President Hugo Chavez said in a May 12 nationally
      broadcast radio and TV address.

      He was referring to an incident involving the recent capture of 86
      alleged Colombian paramilitaries near Caracas.

      The government says the men are paramilitary fighters, brought in
      from northeastern Colombia by extremists in the anti-Chavez
      opposition movement to form part of a force that was to attack
      military installations, officials, and governing party and opposition
      political leaders.

      The aborted plan entailed an invasion that was "thought up, planned
      and led by an international network—two of whose hubs are Miami,
      Florida and Colombia—with the complicity of unpatriotic Venezuelans,"
      said Pres. Chavez.

      "Traitorous officers in Venezuela's armed forces, both active and
      retired, helped bring the terrorists from the border to Caracas," he

      On May 9, authorities in Venezuela arrested 86 unarmed Colombians
      wearing Venezuelan army uniforms in a country house on the outskirts
      of the capital. Since then, 16 other Colombians have been detained;
      properties of members of the business community and politicians with
      links to the opposition have been searched; and the arrest of around
      10 National Guard and Air Force officers, including four on active
      duty, has been ordered.

      Several opposition leaders, former defense ministers and media
      personalities have stated that the case of the paramilitaries is "a
      show mounted by Chavez" to draw attention away from the opposition's
      attempt to hold a recall referendum for the president before August.

      President Chavez called an extraordinary meeting of the Defense
      Council, made up of the heads of the branches of government and the
      top military commanders, and declared it in permanent session

      Meanwhile, the verbal battles continued between Bogota, Caracas and
      Washington, but with some room left for cooperation and diplomacy.
      Colombian Ambassador to Venezuela Mariangel Holguin urged that the
      case be dealt with through diplomatic channels, far from
      the "microphones." "We must return somewhat to the route of
      diplomatic and judicial dialogue, rather than so many statements in
      the press," she said.

      Ms. Holguín said the information received on the first 54 detainees
      in Caracas confirms that they are Colombian citizens, that 28
      completed military service in their country, and that only one has a
      criminal record.

      President Chavez insisted that the men are "dangerous" paramilitaries
      involved in Colombia's civil war and said that he personally spoke
      with one of the leaders of the group, who was arrested in
      southwestern Venezuela as he attempted to flee.

      "He is a cold man, a former professional soldier, and was apparently
      responsible for the execution of several who tried to escape from the

      With regards to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Pres. Chavez
      said, "We have been pleased to hear that he criticizes this incident,
      and we believe we can expect full collaboration from him."

      But, he also said he had "elements" that led him "to doubt the good
      faith" of Colombia's military intelligence apparatus, and accused
      Colombian army chief Gen. Martin Carreno of being opposed to his
      government and of "brazenly lying."

      General Carreno denied allegations by Venezuelan Vice-President Jose
      Vicente Rangel, who said the Colombian army chief had met in March
      with members of the opposition who were plotting actions to
      destabilize the Chavez administration.

      Mr. Rangel, who handles relations with the United States and Colombia
      in the Venezuelan government's division of labor, said
      Washington "rejects the attempts to link the arrested Colombians with
      our government. The paramilitaries, like the FARC [Revolutionary
      Armed Forces of Colombia] guerrillas, are international terrorists
      that are financed by kidnapping and drug trafficking, and their
      leaders are wanted in U.S. courts."

      But, President Chavez said that before the Colombians were captured,
      there was a build-up of statements hostile to his government from the
      U.S. Defense and State departments.

      "It is what we call, in military jargon, `preparation fire' to heat
      up the climate ahead of an attack like the actions the paramilitaries
      were going to attempt," said Pres. Chavez, a former paratroop


      Venezuela evicts US military:

      Gen Garcia asked the US military personnel to leave Fuerte Tiuna days
      before Venezuela's security forces announced they captured

      a large force of Colombian paramilitaries.



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