Bombing of Cuban Jetliner 40
Years Later


Colgate Toothpaste Disguised
Plastic Explosives in 1976 Terrorist Attack


Confessions, Kissinger Reports,
and Overview of Luis Posada Career Posted


National Security Archive Calls
on Obama administration to Release Still-Secret Documents


Updated
– October 6, 2016


Originally
Posted – October
5, 2006


National
Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 202 (Updated)


Edited
by Peter Kornbluh and Yvette White


For
further information, contact:

Peter Kornbluh: 202.374.7281 and nsarchiv@gwu.edu




November 5, 1976, report
from FBI director Clarence Kelly
 to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
suggested that Posada had attended meetings in Caracas where the plane bombing
was planned.


Washington D.C., October 6, 2016 -
On the 40th anniversary of the mid-air terrorist bombing of a Cuban
civilian airliner over the Caribbean, the National Security Archive
today called on the Obama Administration to declassify all remaining
intelligence records on Luis Posada Carriles to shed light on his activities,
provide historical evidence for his victims, and offer a gesture of
declassified diplomacy towards Cuba.


Toward
that goal, the Archive today reposted documents implicating Posada Carriles in
that terrorist crime and identifying still secret records to be declassified.


Posada
illegally entered the United States in the spring of 2005; he was subsequently
prosecuted for immigration fraud in Texas but acquitted. He currently lives
freely in Miami.


During
the secret talks in 2013 and 2014 between White House officials and
representatives of Raul Castro that led to the restoration of diplomatic
relations, the Cubans repeatedly raised the issue of Posada’s presence in the
United States.


Among
the documents reposted is an annotated list of four volumes of still-secret records
on Posada’s career with the CIA, his acts of violence, and his suspected
involvement in the bombing of Cubana flight 455 on October 6, 1976, which took
the lives of all 73 people on board, many of them teenagers.


The
National Security Archive, which has sought the declassification of the Posada
files through the Freedom of Information Act, again called on the Obama
administration to release all intelligence files on Posada. “Now is the
time for the government to come clean on Posada’s covert past and his involvement
in international terrorism,” said Peter Kornbluh, who directs the
Archive’s Cuba Documentation Project. “His victims, the public, and the
courts have a right to know.”


The
documents originally posted in 2006 included four sworn
affidavits
 by police officials in Trinidad and Tobago, who were the
first to interrogate the two Venezuelans – Hernan Ricardo Lozano and Freddy
Lugo – who were arrested for placing the bomb on flight 455. (Their statements
were turned over as evidence to a special investigative commission in Barbados
after the crime.) Information derived from the interrogations suggested that
the first call the bombers placed after the attack was to the office of Luis Posada’s
security company ICI, which employed Ricardo. Ricardo claimed to have been a
CIA agent but later retracted that statement. He said that he had been paid
$16,000 to sabotage the plane and that Lugo was paid $8,000.


The
interrogations revealed that a tube of Colgate toothpaste had been used to
disguise plastic explosives that were set off with a “pencil-type”
detonator on a timer after Ricardo and Lugo got off the plane during a stopover
in Barbados. Ricardo “in his own handwriting recorded the steps to be
taken before a bomb was placed in an aircraft and how a plastic bomb is
detonated,” deputy commissioner of police Dennis Elliott Ramdwar testified
in his affidavit.


The
Archive also released in 2006 three declassified FBI intelligence reports that
were sent to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger after the bombing. The updates,
classified “secret” and signed by director Clarence Kelly, focused on
the relations between the FBI legal attaché in Caracas, Joseph Leo, Posada, and
one of the Venezuelans who placed the bomb on the plane, to whom Leo had
provided a visa. One
report from Kelly
, based on the word of an informant in Venezuela,
suggested that Posada had attended meetings in Caracas where the plane bombing
was planned. The document also quoted an informant as stating that after the
plane went into the ocean one of the bombers placed a call to Orlando Bosch,
the leading conspirator in the plot, and stated: “a bus with 73 dogs went
off a cliff and all got killed.”


Another
State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research report
to Kissinger
, reposted today, noted that the CIA had a source in Venezuela
who had overheard Posada saying “we are going to hit a Cuban
airplane” and “Orlando has the details” only days before the
plane was blown up off the coast of Barbados.


Both
Bosch and Posada were arrested and imprisoned in Venezuela after the attack.
Posada escaped from prison in September 1985; Bosch was released in 1987 and
returned to the United States illegally. Like Posada, he was detained by immigration
authorities; over the objections of the Justice Department, which determined he
was a threat to public security, the first President Bush’s White House issued
him an administrative pardon in 1990.


Still-secret
intelligence documents cited in the file review first posted in 2006 suggest
that the CIA assigned several cryptonyms to Posada when he was working for
them, first as an operative and trainer in demolitions and later as an
informant based in the Venezuelan secret police service DISIP. In 1965 he was
assigned the codename “AMCLEVE-15.” In 1972 he “was given a new
crypt CIFENCE-4,” according to a still-unreleased CIA document, and later
referred to as “WKSCARLET-3.”


DOCUMENTS


House Select Committee on Assassinations, LUIS POSADA CARRILES,
ca. 1978


In
1978, investigators for a special committee investigation into the death of
President John F. Kennedy conducted a comprehensive review of CIA, FBI, DEA and
State Department intelligence files relating to the life, operations and
violent activities of Luis Posada Carriles. The committee examined four volumes
containing dozens of secret memos, cables and reports, dating from 1963 to
1977, relating to Posada’s employment by the CIA, his efforts to overthrow the
Castro government, his transfer to Venezuela, and his involvement in the
bombing of Cubana flight 455. Investigators for the committee were able to take
notes on the documents and compile this list, which was declassified by the CIA
as part of the Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board work in the late
1990s. The annotated list of documents represents a rare but comprehensive
overview of Posada’s relations with U.S. intelligence agencies and his career
in violence. The National Security Archive is seeking the full declassification
of documents through the Freedom of Information Act.


State Department, Bureau of Intelligence and Research,
Memorandum, “Castro’s Allegations,” October 18, 1976


The
first report to Secretary of State Kissinger from the State Department’s Bureau
of Intelligence and Research on the bombing of Cubana Airlines Flight 455
details Cuba’s allegation that the CIA was involved in the bombing and provides
an outline of the suspects’ relationship to the U.S. The report notes that a
CIA source had overheard Posada prior to the bombing in late September 1976 stating
that, “We are going to hit a Cuban airliner.” This information was
apparently not passed to the CIA until after the plane went down. (This
document was originally posted on May 18, 2005.)


FBI, Letter to Kissinger, [Regarding Special Agent Leo],
October 20, 1976


This
report to Secretary of State Kissinger from Clarence M. Kelly, director of the
FBI, explains the association between Joseph S. Leo, Special Agent and Legal
Attaché in Caracas, to the suspects of the Cubana Airlines Flight 455 bombing.
Investigators found Leo’s name among the possessions of Hernan Ricardo Lozano,
one of the suspects implicated in the bombing. The report notes that there were
at least two contacts between Lozano and Leo in the weeks leading up to the
bombing.


FBI, Letter to Kissinger, [Regarding Contact with Bombing
Suspects], October 29, 1976


The
second report to Secretary of State Kissinger from Clarence M. Kelly, director
of the FBI, provides additional information regarding the relationship between
Special Agent Leo and the Cubana Airlines bombing suspects. The report details
Leo’s contacts with Lozano and Posada going back to the summer of 1975, and
notes that Leo suspected Posada and Hernan Ricardo Lozano of acts of terrorism,
but still granted Ricardo’s request for a visa to the United States.


FBI, Letter to Kissinger, [Regarding Ricardo Morales
Navarette], November 5, 1976


A
third report to Secretary of State Kissinger from Clarence M. Kelly, director
of the FBI, relays information from a confidential FBI source that the bombing
of the Cubana Airlines flight was planned in Caracas, Venezuela by Luis Posada
Carriles, Frank Castro, and Ricardo Morales Navarrete. The source states that
the group had made previous unsuccessful attempts to bomb Cuban aircraft in
Jamaica and Panama. Shortly after the plane crashed, bombing suspect Hernan
Ricardo Lozano telephoned Bosch stating, “a bus with 73 dogs went off a
cliff and all got killed.” The source also states that anti-Castro Cuban
exiles working with the Chilean National Directorate for Intelligence (DINA)
carried out the assassination of Orlando Letelier in Washington, DC on
September 21, 1976.


STATEMENTS TO POLICE IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO


Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of National Security, October 27,
1976, [Randolph Burroughs deposition regarding Hernan Ricardo Lozano and Freddy
Lugo]


Assistant
Commissioner of Police of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, Randolph
Burroughs’ report notes that Hernan Ricardo Lozano and Freddy Lugo checked into
the Holiday Inn Hotel near the airport in Port-of-Spain under the names Jose
Garcia and Freddy Perez on the day of the crash. Burroughs’ report also states
that Hernan Ricardo Lozano and Freddy Lugo originally said that they knew
nothing about the Cubana airlines plane crash when he approached them for
questioning at their hotel on the morning of October 7, 1976.


Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of National Security, October 27,
1976, [Oscar King deposition regarding Hernan Ricardo Lozano and Freddy Lugo]


Corporal
Oscar King of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service attended the interviews
with Freddy Lugo and Hernan Ricardo Lozano. His statement records Lozano saying
that Freddy Lugo boarded the plane with two cameras and that on his arrival in
Barbados he only had one camera. Lozano further states that he is sure that the
bomb was inside of the other camera.


Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of National Security, October 26,
1976, [Gordon Waterman deposition regarding Hernan Ricardo Lozano and Freddy
Lugo]


Trinidad
and Tobago Senior Superintendent of Police Gordon Waterman’s written deposition
attests to statements made by Hernan Ricardo Lozano and Freddy Lugo while the
two were detained by the Criminal Investigation Department in Port-of-Spain.
According to Waterman’s report, Lozano states that he and Lugo are paid members
of the CIA. (He later retracted that statement.) Prior to admitting that he and
Lugo bombed the plane, Lozano tells Deputy Commissioner Ramdwar, “If you
use your police brain, it would be clear to you who bombed the plane.”


Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of National Security, October 26,
1976, [Dennis Elliott Ramdwar deposition regarding Hernan Ricardo Lozano and
Freddy Lugo]


Trinidad
and Tobago Deputy Commissioner of Police Dennis Ramdwar led the inquiries
regarding the crash of Cubana Airline Flight 455. In his written statement he
notes that Freddy Lugo initially denied knowledge of the crash. Eight days
later, Lugo tells Ramdwar that he is convinced that Lozano placed the bomb on
the aircraft. He states that Ricardo told him twice that he was going to blow
up a Cubana aircraft as the two were headed to the airport prior to the
bombing. In a separate interview, Lozano gives Ramdwar details of how a
“certain chemical is filled in a tube of Colgate toothpaste after the
toothpaste is extracted” to construct the bomb.


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