Colombian officials seized 66 pounds of uranium from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (farc) terrorist group last week. The uranium was buried along a road in the countryside south of Bogota. Information leading to the discovery came from the laptop computer of Raúl Reyes, a top farc leader killed by Colombian authorities March 1.
Reports say the uranium is “impoverished,” or depleted, meaning it lacks the concentrated radioactive material needed for a dirty bomb. If that doesn’t put your concerns to bed, authorities assure us that in addition to the uranium being largely inert, farc lacks the technology and resources to actually construct a nuclear bomb.
Those two facts have fostered a short-sighted, shallow perception in the Western media that farc’s discovered uranium cache was of little consequence.
This view couldn’t be more wrong!
Last week’s seizure marked the first time radioactive material has been linked to farc. It raises some critical questions: Why is farc getting involved in the major league of black-market uranium trade? Where did it get the uranium? And what was it planning on doing with it? So far, the most plausible explanation is that farc planned to sell the uranium to raise money (joint American-Colombian eradication efforts against farc’s cocaine crops and operations are eating into its cash flow). That’s reasonable (though in reality the material was nearly worthless)—but who would be interested in purchasing uranium, and how deep do farc’s connections with that entity run?
“The only thing that is potentially of interest in this whole story (in my view),” said Matthew Bunn, senior research associate with Harvard’s Project on Managing the Atom, “is that a very professional terrorist organization like farc, with a good deal of experience in smuggling, apparently was interested in getting involved in buying and selling nuclear material for money. That suggests that someone who had serious nuclear material (unlike this material) and needed to move it from one country to another might have been able to make use of the farc’s capabilities” (emphasis mine throughout).
So farc essentially advertised itself as a willing participant in the black-market trade of nuclear weapons!
Black-market activities are inherently dangerous, but few are more so than the illegal trade of nuclear materials and technology. The nature of the underground trade in uranium, particularly when it involves covert enrichment and construction of a nuclear weapon (the ultimate weapon of mass destruction), requires above all a rare willingness to risk everything for the cause, as well as expansive expertise and vast resources. The point is, 66 pounds of uranium didn’t accidentally fall into farc’s lap. farc is clearly—although we don’t know to what extent—involved in the international black-market trade of nuclear material.
That’s alarming when you consider the known members of the black-market nuclear trade!
Clearly, last week’s seizure raises more questions than answers. While many find assurance in the lack of answers, I find them extremely disconcerting—especially when considered against the growth of the South American terrorist network.
Mountains of evidence have arisen in recent years showing that South America is a hideout and breeding ground for the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas. Pockets of South America—including areas in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, all of which have governments hostile to the U.S.—have become launching pads from which the world’s most venomous anti-American entities, particularly radical Islam, could strike the United States.
Now we learn that uranium is being illegally traded in the region. Even the weakest imagination ought to be able to conjure images of what the consequences for America could be!
Anti-farc operations—especially a deadly military raid in a rebel camp in Ecuador after which Colombian authorities obtained computer documents belonging to slain guerrilla leader Raúl Reyes—indicate that the farc had established links in Venezuela, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Mexico. …
“We now know that the farc were not just sitting in the jungle,” said Adam Isacson, who closely follows the guerrilla group at the Washington d.c.-based Center for International Policy. “It’s clear from the records found on Reyes’ computer that they had an international outreach effort.”
One of the strongest allies of farc is Venezuela’s virulently anti-American president, Hugo Chavez. Plenty of evidence shows that Chavez’s support of farc has increased lately. The Venezuelan president has successfully negotiated the release of prisoners held by farc, financed the terrorist organization to the tune of $300 million, allowed farc guerrillas to take refuge from Colombian troops at camps in Venezuelan territory and, more recently, made public statements supporting farc’s terrorist activities and lamenting the death of Raúl Reyes.
The word on the street is that farc received the uranium from suppliers in Venezuela. That’s entirely possible. There have been whispers over the past two years that Venezuela is mining uranium with the help of Iran. Those claims were substantiated in September 2006 when Colombia’s former Defense Minister Camilo Ospina said that Caracas was secretly operating two uranium mines deep inside Venezuela. Ospina’s remarks were quickly disavowed by the Colombian government.
Although circumstantial evidence suggests Iran and Venezuela are operating two covert uranium mines, confirming it is difficult because Venezuelan officials have warned that any unauthorized aircraft flights in the vicinity of the mine locations will be subject to deadly force.
What is certain, and widely reported, however, is that Hugo Chavez has developed alarmingly close connections with Tehran and has transformed his nation into one of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest terrorist havens. According to Latin American foreign affairs expert Vladimir Torres, Chavez has helped both Iran and radical Islam strengthen their presence in Venezuela, and across the region:
Since March 2, 2007, Iran’s national airline, Iran Air, is flying on a weekly basis to Venezuela. The commercial Tehran-Caracas flight, with a stop in Damascus, Syria, allows for easy movement of passengers, given Venezuela’s lax immigration controls, the absence of visa requirements, and the reported “unofficial” instruction to Venezuelan custom officers not to ask questions regarding whom and what comes and goes in the flight.
Western nations have worked tirelessly and spent hundreds of millions of dollars implementing security measures designed to restrict the travel of Islamic terrorists. Meanwhile, thanks to the strong Iran-Venezuelan relationship, they fly between the Middle East and South America with frightening ease!
The Iranian embassies in some [South American] countries have increased their number of accredited diplomats to figures that seem out of proportion with their needs. The presence of more than 30 diplomats in Managua alone has already triggered suspicions regarding their mandate. There are substantiated reports of Hezbollah cells operating in Venezuela–-particularly in Margarita Island, where real-estate businesses provide the cover for alleged drug-money laundering and fund-raising for the terrorist organization.
So Venezuela is no respecter of persons when it comes to terrorist organizations and states seeking the destruction of the United States. Hugo Chavez supports farc, he supports Iran, he supports Iranian-sponsored groups like Hezbollah, and he supports al Qaeda. Did farc’s uranium originate in Venezuelan mines jointly operated by Iran and Venezuela? Did it receive it from Iran, via Venezuela? More importantly, how many other caches of uranium, perhaps enriched uranium, are circulating in this South American terrorist network?
No one knows the answers to these questions. But the mountain of circumstantial evidence demands serious investigation!
Let’s turn our attention to another player in this storied web of nuclear terrorism: Syrian-born Musta Setmariam Nasar. Nasar was a prominent al Qaeda leader who fought in Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden, later lived in London and then in Spain, where he was indicted for providing assistance to the plotters of the 9/11 attacks. Kenneth Rijock, a financial analyst from World-Check, tracked Nasar’s movements during a brief stint in Venezuela:
Nasar lived openly in Venezuela for several months, traveling at all times with his Venezuelan government bodyguard, all the while wanted by Interpol for Spain, visiting Caracas’ most important mosque, and holding meetings with Hezbollah, eta, farc, eln and Cuban G-2 members, amongst others, in support of their criminal and political activities in Latin America.
During his visit, Nasar was also reported to have conducted meetings with notorious Venezuelan terrorists, including Carlos Rafael Lanz Rodriguez. What do Nasar and Lanz have in common? “Lanz is presently the president of Venezuela’s state-owned aluminium company, Alcasa, which has been accused by former Venezuela government mining engineers of covertly mining uranium for export to Iran, under the cover of aluminium production.”
So let’s get this straight. Carlos Rafael Lanz Rodriguez (a well-known terrorist), in charge of Venezuela and Iran’s alleged covert uranium mines, conducted meetings with notorious al Qaeda operative Musta Setmariam Nasar, a man who traveled with a bodyguard supplied by Hugo Chavez and conducted meetings in Caracus with Hezbollah, eta (the Bathist terrorist organization) and—surprise, surprise—farc!
Keeping up with these details is challenging. Perhaps that’s why so few media outlets take the time to investigate the story. But the point is, Hugo Chavez has transformed Venezuela into a thriving hub for international terrorist organizations of all shapes and sizes, their state sponsors as well as participants in the black-market trade of nuclear materials and technology.
This poses a serious threat to America in particular. “Venezuela is known as a major transit hub [into America],” wrote Fred Burton from Stratfor, “and an entire industry has developed in Venezuela around the practice of illegal alien smuggling. There is an ‘underground railroad’ of sorts that begins in Caracas and stretches along various air, land and sea routes used to move migrants into the United States. This network consists of facilitators, document vendors, pilots, bus and truck drivers, sea captains, small hotels, money exchanges, restaurants and stores that all cater to illegal immigrants” (Dec. 13, 2006).
So Venezuela is not only a hub and staging ground for international terrorist organizations and the nuclear black market, it is also a key pit stop for illegals entering the U.S.!
Why aren’t America’s leaders and the mainstream media sounding the alarm about the threat posed by the terrorist network stretching across South America?
When furious storms whipped through north-central Oklahoma three nights ago, television stations tracked their minute-by-minute development and progress. Weathermen stayed up all night analyzing the storms, predicting their route and their strength, and warned Oklahomans with great fervency about the danger rapidly approaching.
Before the tornado touched down on the streets of Edmond, loud, piercing sirens had driven residents to their storm shelters and the safest rooms in their homes. Damage was inflicted, but no one was hurt. Why? Because Oklahoma’s vigilant weathermen watched and warned for hours about the storms headed our way.
Today, the world needs a vigilant watchman in the same vein as those Oklahoma weathermen, someone who will study world events, consider them against the sure word of Bible prophecy, and then blow the trumpet to warn about impending storms.