CIA helped hunt and kill FARC leadership: report
December 23 2013 10:58 PM
Correa: I don’t believe in coincidences.
Correa: I don’t believe in coincidences.

A secret CIA programme helped Colombia kill at least two dozen leftist FARC guerrilla leaders, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

Washington’s covert help in targeting Latin America’s oldest insurgency, funded through a multi-billion-dollar black budget, also includes “substantial eavesdropping help” from the National Security Agency (NSA), the newspaper said.

The secret CIA programme – separate from the $9bn US aid package dubbed Plan Colombia, which launched in 2000 – was initially authorised by president George W Bush.

President Barack Obama has continued the assistance, the Post reported, citing its interviews with more than 30 current and former officials from both the United States and Colombia.

The covert programme works in two ways: the US provides intelligence to help locate the FARC leaders, and it furnishes a special GPS guidance kit that helps convert standard bombs into highly-precise smart bombs.

It was thanks to US intelligence that the FARC number two, Raul Reyes, was found and killed in 2008, the report said.

The Reyes operation was carried out on March 1, 2008, in neighbouring Ecuador.

“To conduct an airstrike meant a Colombian pilot flying a Colombian plane would hit the camp using a US-made bomb with a CIA-controlled brain,” the Post said, adding that the United States justified the incursion in another sovereign country’s territory as self-defence for Colombia.

In Bogota, Congressman Ivan Cepeda said lawmakers would ask President Juan Manuel Santos’ government for an explanation “as to just what information the government has about this”.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has conducted an insurgency against the state since its founding in 1964.

Then-president Alvaro Uribe waged a fierce war against the FARC during his 2002 to 2010 presidency, reducing Colombia’s largest leftist rebel group by half – it now numbers some 8,000 fighters – and confining it to remote areas of the country.

The FARC has been in peace talks with the government for over a year.

The two sides are currently discussing drug trafficking as part of an attempt to reach a comprehensive peace deal.

Meanwhile, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa warned yesterday that reports US intelligence played a role in the 2008 Colombian attack on FARC rebels in his country as a threat to regional peace efforts.

On his Twitter account, Correa wondered if these “very serious” revelations and other recent disagreements between his government and Washington were simply coincidence.

The president speculated that the report was an attempt to affect Ecuador’s relations with the US and Colombia and “above all, the peace process” under way between Colombia and the FARC.

“At this point, I don’t believe in ‘coincidences’. Colombia and the international extreme-right are capable of anything!” he wrote.

The 2008 incident triggered a diplomatic crisis between Bogota and Quito, with Ecuador suspecting the attack was orchestrated with the help of the United States, despite denial from Colombian authorities.

The governments fully restored relations in 2011.




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