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Luis Posada Carriles spoke of plans to "hit" a Cuban airliner only days before Cubana flight 455 exploded on October 6, 1976, killing all 73 passengers aboard, according to this declassified CIA document from 1976.

The Posada File: Part II

Posada Boasted of Plans to "Hit" Cuban Plane, CIA Document States

Served as Instructor, Informant for Agency for more than a Decade

Other Documents Highlight Creation of Exile Terrorist Umbrella Group;
Subsequent Acts of Terrorism and Violence attributed to Orlando Bosch

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 157

For more information contact
Peter Kornbluh - 202/994-7116 - pkorn@gwu.edu

Posted - June 9, 2005

Related postings
October 5, 2006
Bombing of Cuban Jetliner 30 Years Later
May 10, 2005
Luis Posada Carriles:
The Declassified Record

Previous Press Coverage
"Case of Cuban Exile Could Test the U.S. Definition of Terrorist"
by Tim Weiner
New York Times
May 9, 2005
"Papers connect exile to bomb plot"
by Oscar Corral
Miami Herald
May 10, 2005
"Documentos vinculan a Posada con ataque"
por Oscar Corral
Miami Herald via elnuevoherald.com
May 10, 2005

 

 

Washington D.C. June 9, 2005 - Luis Posada Carriles spoke of plans to "hit" a Cuban airliner only days before Cubana flight 455 exploded on October 6, 1976, killing all 73 passengers aboard, according to a declassified CIA document from 1976 posted by the National Security Archive today. The unusually detailed intelligence was provided by a source described as "a former Venezuelan government official" who "is usually a reliable reporter," according to the secret report.

Posada, a violent anti-Castro exile, is due to have his first legal hearing on June 13, after entering the United States illegally in March and applying for political asylum from the Bush Administration. After living for almost two months in Miami unmolested by law enforcement officials, he was detained on May 17. Venezuelan authorities say they are planning to formally request his extradition back to Caracas where he escaped in 1985 after being incarcerated for alleged involvement in the bombing of the Cuban airliner.

The CIA document described a $1000-a-plate fundraiser in Caracas held between September 22 and October 5, 1976, to support the activities of Orlando Bosch, the head of CORU, which the FBI has described as "an anti-Castro terrorist umbrella organization." The informant quoted Bosch as making an offer to Venezuelan officials to forgo acts of violence in the United States when President Carlos Andres Perez visited the UN in November, in return for "a substantial cash contribution to [Bosch's] organization." Bosch was also overheard stating: "Now that our organization has come out of the Letelier job looking good, we are going to try something else." Several days later, Posada was reported to have stated that "we are going to hit a Cuban airplane" and "Orlando has the details." (Both the Bosch and Posada statements were cited in an October 18th, 1976 report to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger posted by the Archive on May 17th.)

Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive, called these documents "part of a trove of intelligence records that provide leads and evidence on major acts of terrorism committed by violent anti-Castro groups." He called on the CIA to fully declassify its voluminous files on Posada "as a concrete contribution to justice for those who have committed acts of terror."

The Archive also posted a declassified CIA summary that provided new details of Agency ties to Posada and Bosch in the 1960s and 70s. The CIA "traces" noted that Posada "was recruited by the Agency to serve as a Maritime Training Branch instructor" in early 1965 and also was "used as a source of information on Cuban exile activities." The CIA continued to maintain relations with Posada after he became a high ranking official in the Venezuelan secret police, DISIP, between 1967 and 1974, although the nature of Posada's work for the Agency during that time remains censored in the document. The CIA also admitted that it had multiple contacts with Orlando Bosch in 1962 and 1963.

In addition, the Archive posted a declassified FBI document dated October 21, 1976, citing sources who stated that CORU "was responsible for the bombing of the Cubana Airlines DC-8 on October 6, 1976." The source quoted a CORU member, Secundino Carrera, as stating that "this bombing and the resulting deaths were fully justified because CORU was at war with the Fidel Castro regime." At the time, CORU was led by Orlando Bosch.

According to the declassified documents, CORU was created at a meeting of Cuban exile groups in a small town called Bonao in the Dominican Republic in June 1976. In a June 29, 1976, report on Orlando Bosch's group Accion Cubana, FBI sources stated that "these groups agreed to jointly participate in the planning, financing, and carrying out of terrorist operations and attacks against Cuba." (page 8) Bosch, according to the document, was committed to violent acts against other countries he believed supported Cuba, including Colombia, Mexico and Panama. At the meeting, according to the document, the groups discussed kidnapping and executing a diplomat. A month later CORU members attempted to kidnap the Cuban ambassador to Mexico; one of his aides was shot and killed.

After Posada escaped from prison in Caracas, he flew aboard a private aircraft to Aruba, and was then taken to El Salvador where he assumed the alias "Ramon Medina" and became "support director" for the illicit contra resupply operation being run by the Reagan White House out of Illopango airbase in San Salvador. (see diagram) In a 31 page deposition given to FBI agents in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, as part of the Independent Counsel investigation into the Iran-Contra scandal, Posada detailed his participation in these covert operations, including flying on resupply missions for contra soldiers in southern Nicaragua.

According to Posada, he was able to save $40,000 from his pay and lived on that in Central America after the scandal broke in late 1986 and the resupply operation was shut down. When he ran out of money, he asked another exile figure, Rafael Quintero for help. "Quintero told him to send one of his paintings to [Richard] Secord," the retired special forces official who collaborated with Oliver North in selling arms to Iran and transferring the profits to sustaining the contra war. According to the deposition, "Posada did so and Secord sent Posada $1000 for it."


Documents
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CIA Documents On Posada and Bosch

Document 1: CIA, Secret Intelligence Report, "Activities of Cuban Exile Leader Orlando Bosch During his Stay in Venezuela," October 14, 1976

A source in Venezuela supplied the CIA with detailed intelligence on a fund raiser held for Orlando Bosch and his organization CORU after he arrived in Caracas in September 1976. The source described the dinner at the house of a Cuban exile doctor, Hildo Folgar, which included Venezuelan government officials. Bosch was said to have essentially asked for a bribe in order to refrain from acts of violence during the United Nations meeting in November 1976, which would be attended by Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez. He was also quoted as saying that his group had done a "great job" in assassinating former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier in Washington D.C. on September 21, and now was going to "try something else." A few days later, according to this intelligence report, Luis Posada Carriles was overheard to say that "we are going to hit a Cuban airplane" and "Orlando has the details."

Document 2: CIA, Secret Memorandum to the FBI, "Information Regarding Anti-Castro Figures Possibly Involved in Neutrality or Other Violations of Federal Law," December 9, 1976

In the aftermath of the bombing of the Cubana flight, the CIA ran "traces" on dozens of anti-Castro exiles who might be linked to this atrocity. This document records the summaries of traces on the two exiles who had by then been arrested in Caracas, Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada. The CIA noted that agents had had multiple contacts with Bosch in 1962 and 1963; and the Agency acknowledged that it had employed Luis Posada starting in 1965 and that he was a "demolitions expert." The CIA also noted that he provided information to them on the activities of other exile groups. It censored a section of the document that described the services he performed for the CIA while a high official in the Venezuelan secret police, DISIP, between 1967 and 1974. Other CIA records show that the Agency continued to have contact with Posada until June of 1976, more than eleven years after he was first recruited.

FBI Documents on CORU and ACCION CUBANA

Document 3: FBI, Intelligence Cable, "Bombing of Cubana Airlines DC-8, Near Barbados, West Indies, October 6, 1976, Neutrality Matters-Cuba-West Indies," October 21, 1976

The FBI transmits information from a source who has spoken with a member of CORU named Secundino Carrera who admitted "that CORU was responsible for the bombing of the Cubana Airlines DC-8 on October 6, 1976." Carrera justifies the bombing as an act of war. The memo indicates that the bombing has caused some dissention in CORU over its tactics, but that the organization headed by Orlando Bosch is planning to sell bonds to finance future operations.

Document 4: FBI, Intelligence Report, "Accion Cubana (Cuban Action) Internal Security-Cuba," June 29, 1976

This FBI report contains a range of information on "a small terrorist organization headed by Orlando Bosch Avila," and other Cuban exile terrorists. Based on sources close to Bosch's group, Accion Cubana, the report details Bosch's efforts to raise funds from specific individuals in Miami, Caracas, and elsewhere. The FBI also reports on the activities of Guillermo and Ignacio Novo, who are described as "two Cuban exiles with long records of terrorist activities. Most importantly, on pages 8 and 9, the document describes the meeting in the Dominican Republic where CORU was created in June 1976 to unify five different exile groups. According to the memo, "these groups agreed to jointly participate in the planning, financing and carrying out terrorist operations and attacks against Cuba" and targets in other countries.

Posada and the Iran-Contra Operations

Document 5: Organizational Diagram of the "Benefactor Company" (BC) Contra Resupply Operation in San Salvador

The entity established by Lt. Col. Oliver North and retired Pentagon officer, Richard Secord to illicitly sustain the contra war was known as "BC." At Illopango airbase, known as "Cincinnati" in the BC records, the Reagan administration secret established a mini airforce of resupply planes along with warehouses of supplies. After Luis Posada escaped from prison in Caracas, he was given a high position as "support director" of the Illopango operation, working under another Cuban exile, Felix Rodriguez who used the codename "Max Gomez."

Document 6: Office of the Independent Counsel, Lawrence Walsh, Secret, "Record of Interview with Luis Posada Carriles," February 7, 1992

Two FBI agents interviewed Posada at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras in February 1992. He provided a detailed account of his work for the contra war, which included descriptions of escaping from Venezuela in a private aircraft and being flown to Aruba, and then on to El Salvador. The 31-page interview transcript also provides extensive details on his operations in El Salvador and Guatemala after the Iran Contra scandal broke in November 1986 and the contra resupply operation was shut down. Although Posada accumulated $40,000 from the contra work-he and others were paid from profits from the sale of armaments to Iran--he eventually ran out of funds. At one point Richard Secord sent him $1000.00 for one of his paintings.

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