Intelligence-Terrorist Base in Caracas

A good time was had by all during Iranian president Mohammed Khatami’s visit to fellow OPEC member Venezuela last week. He and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez took turns bashing the United States. With fanfare, they signed some 20 agreements on cooperation in the oil and petrochemical industries, trade and construction, with a fair amount of secret clauses.

Tehran, under constant international pressure over its nuclear program, was especially pleased by the success of its efforts to hit the United States where it hurts, close to home.

For years, Iran has been looking for a base for stirring up subversion against the Great Satan. Cuba was the natural choice. But Fidel Castro, hoping to lay to rest decades-long US hostility, turned down Tehran’s request for a foothold. A year ago, the Cuban dictator almost choked on his cigar when he discovered Iranian agents shooting laser beams out of their Havana embassy. They were trying to jam opposition Farsi satellite television broadcasts from Los Angeles which urged the Iranian people to rise up against the ayatollahs’ regime. Castro thereupon summoned the Iranian intelligence station chief and told him to cut it out.

Venezuela is a good second choice for bringing the Islamic Revolution within range of their enemy. After Washington dubbed Chavez a threat to Latin American stability, the firebrand leader willingly backed what he called “Iran’s right to develop its atomic energy”.

In their own region, the Iranians are feeling the pinch of an American noose tightening around them. To the west, massed US armor and air power in Iraq, fortified by logistical support from another neighbor, Turkey. To the east, a strong United States military hold on Afghanistan aided by Pakistan. US troops are stationed in Herat province in western Afghanistan uncomfortably close to the Iranian border. American fighter planes are deployed at a new US air base on the outskirts of Herat, the city, a few minutes’ flying time to targets in Iran. To the south, Iran is brought up sharp by the US fleet in the Persian Gulf.


Subversion through America‘s back door


Iran is countering the pressure by laying down a worldwide network of covert agents trained to launch sabotage and terrorist operations against US targets at short notice. Tehran is building up this clandestine army far from its shores as a deterrent to any American plans to strike targets in its homeland.

Chavez, a former paratrooper and coup leader who models himself on 19th-century Venezuelan nationalist hero Simon Bolivar, is admired in Tehran as an adventurer who will not flinch from facing up to America or joining forces militarily with its northern neighbor’s enemies.

Iran is bidding for the favored status Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi once enjoyed in South America. Caracas is a stepping stone for its agents who will eventually make the jump into the United States itself.

In the meantime, to solidify the relationship for the long term, the Iranian president persuaded Chavez to accept joint industrial projects. Most prominently announced during his visit to Caracas was a tractor manufacturing plant called Veniran that Iran would build in Venezuela. In fact, the factory is a throwback to Soviet-era enterprises which only China and North Korea retain. Iran acquired the technology from China and will transfer it to Venezuela with surplus spare parts for assembly there.

According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources, the project is no more than a cover for the surreptitious transfer of several hundred Iranian agents into Venezuela. The Iranian engineers and technicians arriving with the tractor parts will consist mainly of dozens of experts in sabotage, low-intensity warfare and subversion.

To reward their Venezuelan hosts, these Iranian experts will run specialist courses for the local security and intelligence agents. They will also build a factory for the manufacture of light weapons and ammunition, recycling outdated equipment from Iran’s arms industry.

Chavez will also receive from Tehran tanks and artillery built with Russian know-how. The 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles now on their way to Venezuela come as a gift with the compliments of the Islamic Republic.

The United States is, to say the least, concerned.

Commenting on the Kalashnikov shipment, General Bantz Craddock, commander-in-chief of the US Southern Command, said Tuesday, March 15: “We are wondering what is the intent here. If it is for sovereign defense, obviously each nation can do their own… If it is to export instability – that is a different situation.”

“We would like that not to happen,” he added.


The Balkans too


DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources report the rifles were purchased covertly from North Korea in a deal that reaffirms the close military ties woven between Tehran and Pyongyang.

If Chavez holds onto power, Iran means to convert Caracas into its main Latin American base of operations and gradually transfer to Venezuela its Havana-based intelligence network.

That is not all. Next on Iran’s list are joint bases with Colombian rebels. For Tehran, there is no bar to joining forces with the continent’s drug cartels, as it did in Afghanistan, to achieve its objective of strong jumping off bases for sleeper cells to be planted inside the United States.

A strong Iranian covert presence in South America will also forge useful links with the large Arab community living on the Brazil-Uruguay-Argentine borders. This is also the region where Iran’s Lebanese proxy, the Hizballah, has established intelligence and terrorist rings.

(See separate article on Bush, Hizballah and Hamas).


Before traveling to Latin America, the Iranian president paid an equally rewarding visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. In the first, he inspected the fruits of years of labor invested by Iranian agents in setting up an extensive subversive network in radical Islamic schools and religious centers. He was welcomed by the republic’s leaders, especially when he offered more funds for allowing a fresh influx of Iranian “emissaries” to operate in the country.

According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources in Tehran, ex-foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, current favorite adviser on international affairs to supreme leader Ali Khamenei, was the driving force behind the president’s Venezuelan sojourn.

A leading light of the secret supreme Iranian council that orchestrates the propagation of Islamic subversion worldwide, Velayati unveiled some of the tactics he had employed over the years in an interview granted this week to the official Iranian news agency IRNA.

The rationale behind Iran’s creation of the Lebanese Hizballah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, he revealed, was to provide Iran with a shield against any Israeli military attempt to destroy its nuclear program.

“The prospect of powerful Hizballah retaliation against the Zionist entity is one of the factors deterring the occupier of Palestine from striking our nuclear facilities,” he said.

The Velayati doctrine endorsed by Khameini is simply defined by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Iranian experts: The greater Tehran’s network of subversive agents around and inside the United States, the smaller Washington’s willingness to make good on its threats to attack Iran.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email