Monday, April 7, 2008

Did Hugo Chavez hand terrorists access to Venezuela's huge state oil earnings?

Terrorism: Did Hugo Chavez hand terrorists access to Venezuela's huge state oil earnings?

A FARC computer captured by Colombian forces shows just that — and it amounts to state support of terror.Colombian officials on Tuesday reported yet another hideous finding from the laptop computer of dead FARC terrorist Raul Reyes, who was blown away in a Colombian military raid last Saturday.

Turns out the FARC had a friend called "Angel" who was none other than Chavez, the oil-rich Venezuelan dictator whose ties to the FARC go back at least 15 years. The new revelations showed that he was using state oil company cash to finance terrorists.

Last December, Chavez, using the pretense of mediating a hostage release with FARC operative Ivan Marquez, secretly organized a diversion of $300 million in Venezuelan state oil earnings to the FARC.The FARC has waged a war of atrocities against Colombia since 1966, killing, maiming and displacing tens of thousands. It rivals al-Qaida in depravity, and its atrocities put it on every internationally recognized list of global terror groups.Colombia's high commissioner for peace, Luis Restrepo, reported that Marquez said Chavez would hand FARC a "stake in oil companies" to funnel $300 million in financial support. "We already have the first 50 million and he has a schedule to complete 200 during the year," Marquez wrote. "The friend suggested working the package through the black market, to avoid problems."

So Chavez didn't just hand them cash in a black bag. More ingeniously, he "offered us a chance of a business in which we will receive a portion of oil to sell abroad, leaving us a juicy profit," the terrorist gushed. "We will receive ($300 million) to create a for-profit company for investments in Venezuela. It's likely that we will get government contracts."

In other words, Chavez was offering the FARC seed capital to ensure that its cash continued permanently — along with its efforts to topple Colombia's democracy. In light of its previously unknown bid to acquire 50 kilograms of enriched uranium for a dirty bomb, and Chavez's growing alliance with Iran, this signals big plans to expand terrorism on a global scale.Chavez's scam is actionable as state sponsorship of terrorism and should be stopped immediately. Taking him to court is one thing, but as evidence piles up, we probably ought to start thinking about taking him out.

The U.S. took out drugged-up Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega in 1989 for much less.Chavez's actions are more disturbing because the terror cash ultimately comes from his biggest customer, the U.S. consumer. In his Caracas palace, fuming at President Bush, the dictator must have been pleased to know that cash from unwitting U.S. motorists at Citgo pumps funded not only FARC's bombings and cocaine traffic, but also hostage-taking that included three innocent Americans.

Chavez sells about 1.3 million barrels of oil a day to the U.S., amounting to 60% of Venezuelan state oil company production. At $100 a barrel, that's a $130-million-a-day outlay that U.S. officials ought to rethink.On Tuesday, Bush voiced strong support for Colombia and urged Congress to think about the real choice here: an ally that's just foiled an international terrorist plot to acquire uranium for nuclear bombs or a dictatorship actively seeking to topple the U.S. through its sponsorship of terror.Rarely have we seen terror financing so brazen. Maybe it's time to seriously consider doing without Venezuelan oil as long as Hugo Chavez is in power.

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