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The French-based international police organization Interpol has agreed to provide Cuba with a state-of-the art telecommunications system, and share its database of suspected terrorist supporters with the island’s communist government, according to Ronald Noble, Interpol’s secretary general, during the Havana press conference held prior to his departure from Cuba.
Interpol, formally known as the International Criminal Police Organization, is seeking Cuba’s assistance in the international struggle against terrorism and drug trafficking.
“Rapid telecommunications” between Interpol and Cuba are expected to be in place within “six to nine months,” Noble estimated. A special international data base of “possible financers” of terrorist activities is expected to be available later in January 2002, and will also be open to Cuban police officials, according to Noble.
Noble’s remarks were carried by Radio Havana Cuba, the official broadcasting service of the Cuban government.
In response to questions, Noble stated that he was “satisfied” with his talks with Cuban police officials, and described Cuban efforts against drug trafficking as “extraordinary.”
Not all agree with Noble’s assessment of Cuba’s value and involvement in the international fight against drug trafficking and terrorism.
Some observers question the Cuban government’s commitment to anti-terrorism in view of a recent remark made by Cuban Attorney General Juan Escalona.
While characterizing U.S. plans to house al-Qaida prisoners at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as “another provocation,” Escalona voiced his hope that some of the prisoners would escape and slay their American captors, saying: “I hope 15 or 20 … get out and kill them.”
Escalona’s statement was reported by Reuters on Reuters.com, Dec. 29, 2001, at 4:49 p.m. ET, in an article entitled, “Cubans Oppose Plan for Prisoners at Guantanamo,” with a Havana dateline.
Escalona’s remarks received little attention, and subsequent Reuters reports from Havana on that day failed to include Escalona’s quote about prisoners escaping and killing Americans.
Cuba’s need for advanced telecommunications equipment also strikes some as questionable in view of Havana’s access to advanced electronic systems through cooperation with Chinese and Russian intelligence services operating on the island.
Recent confessions and testimony in the case of the “Wasp Network” – a Cuban spy ring broken up in September 1998 by the FBI – gives further indication of the high quality of Cuban technical expertise.
In a WorldNetDaily interview last June, David Major, veteran counterintelligence officer and current professor at the CI Centre in Washington, D.C., commented that the “Wasp Network” case indicated that “the Cubans have all the toys,” and that Cuban intelligence has only one purpose, “to target the United States.”
Joe Garcia, executive director of the Cuban American Foundation, a group favoring democracy for Cuba, reacted with shock at Noble’s remarks concerning Cuba as a partner in the struggle against drug trafficking and terrorism.
Garcia told WND that Cuban President Fidel Castro has served as a personal mediator between rival drug lords in an attempt to keep peace between the various factions. “Castro would serve as a mediator – they’d all meet in Havana,” Garcia said.
“The FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, that nation’s largest Marxist guerrilla army] is financed by drug money,” Garcia added.
According to Ernesto Betancourt, the former director of Voice of America’s Radio Marti, which broadcasts to Cuba, the Castro government is still closely connected to the drug trade, despite official denials and earlier trials of several high-ranking military officers purportedly linked to the drug trade.
Betancourt cited for WND the example of Amado Carrillo, a former Mexican drug kingpin. Castro granted Carrillo a special residence in Havana for his use, according to Betancourt.
He also tied Carrillo to corrupt Mexican officials who used U.S. anti-drug money to attack their rivals in the drug trade.
Regarding Noble’s enthusiasm over Cuba’s assistance in fighting drug trafficking, Betancourt believes Castro will use the information in Interpol’s database as a weapon against those “who do not cooperate.”
“It is unbelievable we’re falling for this trap,” Betancourt states.
Garcia was astounded that Cuba would have access to Interpol’s international database.
“Castro is always calling U.S. presidents and U.S. policy ‘terrorist,’” said Garcia, adding rhetorically: “Is Castro going to have Bush Sr. [former President George Bush] arrested?”
The Castro government had severely criticized Bush Sr. during his presidency for his policies regarding Cuba and Iraq.
Garcia also noted that Cuba is a haven for a number of fugitives from the U.S., including several individuals accused of slaying police officers.
The Cuban American National Foundation has compiled an extensive chronology of communist Cuba’s support for terrorist activities since Castro came to power in 1959.