- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 15, 2001

There is a new reality in the world. Even some states that until very recently were clear enemies of the United States have now agreed to cooperate in the global war on international terrorism. But the Cuban dictatorship has made another choice: It continues to provide safe harbor for terrorists and insists upon serving as the world's primary money-launderer for international terrorism. Fidel Castro doesn't just provide his "revolutionary" banks for Puerto Rican FALN terrorists like those who took their stolen millions from the United States to Cuba. Laundering money for drug-dealers, terrorists and corrupt politicians has become Mr. Castro's most profitable businesses.

While some continue to deny Mr. Castro's connections to international terrorism, let us briefly review some public facts. In May, the Cuban dictator visited Syria, Iran and Libya. In Iran, Mr. Castro declared that "together Iran and Cuba will bring the United States to its knees." Later, in July, Mr. Castro marked the anniversary of his political movement by hosting the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader and leading hard-liner. On Aug. 29, an anonymous letter to Radio Cayman alleged that three Afghan nationals who had recently arrived in Grand Cayman from Cuba were "agents of Osama bin Laden … and are organizing a major terrorist attack against the U.S. via airlines." The letter was ignored until the September 11 attacks. The three Afghan nationals, who according to UPI had $2 million in cash in their possession, were then detained by Cayman authorities.

Three suspected IRA terrorists were arrested on Aug. 11 in Bogota by Colombian police. The terrorists were apparently providing specialized bomb-making expertise to the Colombian FARC. According to the BBC and the Irish Times, one of the three arrested, Nial Connolly, has been the official IRA representative in Cuba since 1996, was training at several Cuban terrorist camps, and was paid by Mr. Castro. Castro agents were middlemen between the IRA and the Colombian FARC which, according to the State Department, has "a permanent presence" in Cuba.

The Castro dictatorship also maintains what it calls "fraternal, sustained and increasingly deep" ties with the Basque ETA terrorist organization. Mr. Castro even refused to sign an international declaration issued by the November 2000 Ibero-American Summit condemning ETA terrorism. The only case of direct state terrorism against Americans in recent history occurred on Feb. 24, 1996, when Mr. Castro ordered the shooting down by his air force and assumed personal responsibility for the murder of three unarmed American citizens and another U.S. resident over the Florida Straits.

There is a litany of evidence incriminating Mr. Castro. More than 90 U.S. felony fugitives wanted by the FBI for hijacking, murder, armed bank robbery, the sale of explosives to Libya and kidnaping, remain in Cuba. An Office of Technology Assessment report entitled "Technologies Underlying Weapons of Mass Destruction" identified Cuba as one of 17 states possessing bioweapons. In 1998, 10 Cuban spies in South Florida who were trying to penetrate U.S. military installations were arrested and subsequently convicted, including one of them for conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens. In 1999, Dr. Ken Alibek, a former Soviet army colonel and deputy chief of Soviet bioweapons development, declared that the Castro regime "has produced biological weapons since 1991."

In February 2000, the FBI arrested a high-ranking U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service officer in Miami for conspiracy to spy for the Castro regime. On March 4, 2000, the Associated Press reported that Cubans were present at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. In October 2000, Carlos Lage, a senior official of the Castro dictatorship, traveled to Iran to inaugurate a biotechnical research and development facility. In February 2001 before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Adm. Tom Wilson, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, confirmed that "Cuban armed forces can initiate an information warfare or computer network attack" that could "disrupt our military" and that "their ability to use asymmetric tactics against our military is significant."

In August 2001, two Cuban spies in Orlando, Florida were arrested. According to the FBI, one Cuban spy who worked for the U.S. Postal Service at Miami International Airport sent two detailed reports to Havana in 1998 about the U.S. postal system (one is entitled to ask in this era of lethal letters why Mr. Castro wanted to know all about the functioning of the U.S. postal system). On Sept. 21, a senior analyst at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency was arrested for spying for the Cuban regime. The FBI was forced to arrest her before concluding its investigation because, according to intelligence community sources, Mr. Castro is known to share intelligence with Middle Eastern enemies of the United States.

While some other "terrorist list states" have begun to provide intelligence to the United States, the Cuban dictatorship remains closely linked to and serves as the private-international banker for multiple terrorist organizations. As various lists of cooperating countries in the fight against money laundering become publicly known, the role of international terrorism's banker will become increasingly harder to hide.

Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart is a Republican from Florida.


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