Category Archives: Colombia

Colombia Investigates a Possible Plot to Assassinate President

By The Associated Press

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 01/02/2019

Diplomatic Security Situation Report

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Colombia is investigating a possible plot to assassinate President Ivan Duque that may involve Venezuelan nationals arrested while carrying “weapons of war,” according to a top official.

Without providing evidence or any further details, Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes posted a 90-second video on Twitter Saturday night that said Colombia’s intelligence services had been hearing chatter about alleged plans to kill Mr. Duque, a conservative.

He said the recent arrests of three Venezuelans who had assault weapons in their possession had heightened the authorities’ concern.

Mini Uzi

“With immense concern and the utmost condemnation, I want to inform the international community that, in effect, for the past several months intelligence investigations have been taking place about possible attacks on the president’s life,” Mr. Holmes said in the video.

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Carlos Holmes Trujillo@CarlosHolmesTru

ATENCIÓN: Rechazo enérgicamente posibles atentados contra la vida del Presidente @IvanDuque3,1936:21 PM – Dec 29, 20183,575 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

The video did not say whether the authorities had verified the existence of a conspiracy.

Blu Radio reported that the Venezuelans, who were arrested in the cities of Valledupar and Barranquilla this month, had in their possession an assault rifle with a telescopic scope, as well as an Uzi, ammunition and stun grenade.

Colombia

Blu, citing unidentified sources, said any plot would have likely had the support of armed Colombian leftist rebels or drug-trafficking organizations, and would have been timed to coincide next month with the start of the second term of President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela.

There was no immediate reaction from Venezuela’s government.

In his video, Mr. Holmes appealed to Colombians to share any information that could affect the president’s safety. He expressed appreciation for the cooperation of unidentified foreign intelligence agencies for helping to protect the Colombian president.

Mr. Duque, 42, who took office in August, has been leading a diplomatic effort in Latin America to isolate Venezuela’s socialist government as Mr. Maduro looks set to cement his hold on power amid a devastating economic crisis that has spurred millions of Venezuelans to flee to neighboring countries to escape widespread food and medicine shortages and hyperinflation.

The Colombian leader has been a strong critic of the socialist government of Mr. Maduro, whom he has called a “dictator.”

The two neighboring countries have had tense relations for years, with soldiers and helicopters from the Bolivarian National Guard of Venezuela regularly crossing the porous border into Colombia.

Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and other nations have struggled with the strain of thousands of desperate Venezuelans pouring into border towns.

Colombia, the United States and other governments have said that Mr. Maduro’s election victory in May, amid an opposition boycott and allegations of vote-rigging, was illegitimate.

They have urged the embattled leader to call new elections in which all of his opponents, several of whom have been exiled or banned from holding office, be allowed to run.

Mr. Maduro has been ratcheting up his rhetoric against Colombia in recent weeks, accusing his neighbor of plotting with the United States to violently oust him from power. He accused Colombia of helping “terrorists” after an attempted armed drone attack in August. Colombia has denied the accusations.

In a notable rebuke in September, five Latin American countries and Canada urged the International Criminal Court to consider prosecuting senior officials in Venezuela for extensive human rights abuses, the first time that member nations had referred another member to the tribunal.

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Cuban Jihadist Arrested in Bogota for Conspiring to kill US Diplomats and Embassy Workers in Colombia.

Colombia’s prosecution said Wednesday that it prevented attacks on United States government officials in the capital Bogota, allegedly planned by a Cuban national.

Raul Gutierrez Sanchez, a 46-year old that is in Colombia illegally, reportedly planned to attack Bogota’s exclusive “Zona Rosa,” a densely populated area frequently visited by American tourists and diplomats.

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The prosecution arrested Gutierrez on terrorism charges and conspiring to commit a crime, to which he denies.

Alarm bells rang for authorities when incriminating messages between Gutierrez and a group of Islamic extremists were intercepted.

In one of the messages, Gutierrez allegedly said that he had already done the reconnaissance work on a restaurant in Bogota visited by “f***ing gringos that work in the embassy,” likely referencing American diplomats who are believed to be the targets of the attack.

The prosecutors office accused Gutierrez of planning to attack 29 Americans that worked in the United States Embassy in Bogota.

Another one of Gutierrez’s intercepted message reads, “I will avenge my brothers with or without your help. Allah is with me”, to which he receives a reply saying the attack must be carried out “in the name of Allah to avenge the fallen brothers”, reportedly by a Spanish resident of Moroccan descent who is also being pursued by officials.

It is not yet known if Gutierrez is part of international terrorist network, ISIS, or merely a sympathiser.

According to an analyst at Colombia’s College of War, Nestor Rosania, Colombia isn’t prepared in dealing with international terrorism on home soil.

“The traditional focus has been on the nation’s internal conflict; (international terrorism) hasn’t been a priority. They are topics we must begin to work on”, Rosania told Blu Radio.

Colombia is home to one internationally recognized terrorist organization, the Marxist ELNgroup, which has been combating the Colombian state since 1964.

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FARC Launches attacks in Colombia & Venezuela

In less than two weeks, 19 members of the Colombian security forces have been killed and other 16 have been wounded at the Colombia-Venezuela border. The killings were perpetrated by two fronts of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that assault Colombians and Venezuelans in the area.
The Colombian Army blamed the recent massacres on the 33rd and 59th FARC Fronts. One of the attacks occurred on May 10th at the Norte de Santander Department (Colombia), specifically in La Gabarra, located south of Zulia state (northwest Venezuela). There, seven Colombian National Police officers were killed.
“These men and their partners managed to penetrate the criminal heart of the 33rd Front of the FARC, thus achieving, among other results, the eradication of more than 600 hectares of coca leaf crop,” said the Colombian National Police in a press release.
On Monday, twelve Colombian Army troops were killed as they guarded a group of workers repairing electricity pylons. The incident occurred in Majayura, Maicao Municipality of Colombia, some 980 feet away of the northwestern border of Zulia state, Venezuela.
Colombian Ministry of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón blamed the attack on the 59th FARC Front, which according to him, has had a base in Venezuela “for quite a long time.”
An overview of the fronts
The 59th FARC Front belongs to the so-called Caribbean Block. The Chief of the First Army Division, Brigadier General Jorge Eliécer Suárez Ortiz, said last March to Colombian newspaper El Heraldo de Colombia that it was formed by 132 men.
This front reportedly operates in La Guajira Department (northwest Colombia) and in places such as La Villa del Rosario and Machiques de Perijá (Zulia state). According to news website Minuto30.com, the head of the aforesaid Front is a.k.a. Leonardo Guerra, who is wanted by Colombia. Authorities have offered a USD 227,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
Meanwhile, the 33rd FARC Front is part of the Magdalena Medio Block, which is commanded by a.k.a. Rogelio, who acts with his alleged partner, Víctor Ramón Navarro (a.k.a. Megateo). Navarro comes from Colombian guerrilla group People s Liberation Army (EPL). Colombia offers USD 1.071 for his capture.
Presence in Venezuela
Reports about guerrilla camps in Venezuela are not new. In 2010, the Ambassador of Colombia to the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Alfonso Hoyos, presented to the Permanent Assembly a report about the presence of 87 FARC camps located some 13-15 kilometers inside Venezuelan territory.
The 33rd FARC Front reportedly was responsible for the killing of five Venezuelan military officers and an engineer of Pdvsa in Apure state (northwestern Venezuela) in 2004. The case was reported by the Regional Chief of the Scientific, Criminal and Forensic Investigation Agency (Cicpc), Eddie Alberto Ramírez, who was later dismissed from office.

Two Bodyguards killed in Bogota Bombing targeting former Interior Minister

A bomb targeting a hardline former interior minister killed two of his bodyguards and injured at least 31 people in Bogota’s uptown commercial district Tuesday in the type of brazen attack not seen in Colombia’s capital in years.

The former minister and morning radio host, Fernando Londono, suffered minor shrapnel wounds and was out of danger, authorities said. Video footage showed a stunned Londono, his face bruised, being led from the wreckage in a dark suit and red tie.

Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro said a pedestrian attached an explosive to a door of Londono’s armored SUV and set it off remotely. He said authorities had video of the attack.

The attacker “walked away disguised” and a wig of long black hair and a hat were found in the area, Petro told reporters.

It was the first fatal bombing in the capital in nearly a decade of an apparently political nature.

Bogota’s police chief, Gen. Luis Eduardo Martinez, blamed the country’s main leftist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, though without offering any evidence.

President Juan Manuel Santos said immediately afterward that it was too early to assign blame.

“We don’t know who is behind this attack,” he said after meeting with police and military brass, Bogota’s mayor and the chief prosecutor. He said, however, that the FARC was behind a car bomb that was detected and deactivated elsewhere in the capital earlier Tuesday.

Santos said Londono, 68, had in the past received death threats and had a sophisticated protection scheme involving about 19 bodyguards.

An archconservative and a stringent critic of the FARC, Londono was interior and justice minister in 2002-2003 under former President Alvaro Uribe.

He hosts a daily radio show called “The Hour of Truth” and firmly opposes peace talks with the FARC, calling the rebels “terrorists” and “murderers.” He has also been critical of Santos for allegedly being soft on the rebels, who have stepped up attacks in recent month.

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