The FARC-ETA connection

SEMANA gained access to the investigation that the Spanish prosecutor’s office is undertaking about the relationship between ETA and the FARC. The dossier shows that those links are older and closer than was previously thought.

16 de febrero de 2009

For years the FARC and the Spanish terrorist group ETA have publicly denied being allies. Although Colombian and Spanish intelligence services have sustained for a long time that the two organizations maintain a close collaboration, little could be proven and documented about those links. Until now. An investigation launched by a Spanish prosecutor has revealed unknown details about the alliance of those two terrorist organizations.

The document, that SEMANA had access to, is dated November 14 and is signed by the Spanish prosecutor Vicente González. The report was sent to the Sixth Central Court and in its text the official orders the capture of five Spanish citizens identified as being ETA members who have links with the FARC. In 17 pages the Spanish prosecutor relates in detail the proof and evidence that they obtained in their investigation, that overwhelmingly demonstrate the FARC-ETA relationship.

“From the investigation procedures it has been revealed that the collaboration between both organizations, which was suspected for several years, has been proven by demonstrating contacts and collaboration. That collaboration is centered both in terms of contacts among the heads of both organizations as much as in the providing of short courses on the use of explosives.” This is one of the initial paragraphs of the report by the Spanish prosecutor, in which he describes the alliance in detail. According to the Spanish investigation, the links between the two groups have existed since 1993. This relationship is much older than even the Colombian intelligence organisms had suspected.

According to the Spanish prosecutor, the beginning of the relationship between ETA and the FARC was discovered thanks to some documents that were found in an operation that took place on August 6, 1993 in France. On that day, French authorities captured various ETA members who were hiding in France and found a computer of theirs. One of the computer archives, titled “Maritik 93 Otsaila” had a log of activities and contacts of Jokin Gorositidi, an important ETA member. The prosecutor states in his report that that terrorist authored several documents in which he narrated his meetings in Cuba with FARC heads. “Very interesting contact with a commander of the FARC of Colombia, their availability was total, they were very happy with the joint work from other occasions (regarding the input from our colleagues) and they showed themselves to be available for the matter,” says one of the excerpts cited by the Spanish prosecutor about a report that Gorositidi sent in 1993 to his superiors telling of his meetings with Colombian guerrillas.

The Spanish prosecutor tells that in 1999 the ETA executive committee placed their man in Cuba, José Angel Urtiaga, in charge as the principal connection between that group and the FARC. He states that in other documents that were found in an operation that was undertaken in Paris against ETA members he also got information about links between the two groups. “The document title “A./Jose/Bilduma” contains information about ETA activities with explosives and weapons in the Venezuelan-Colombian jungle. From that document it comes out that the ETA member José Echarte requested authorization for that organization to undertake tests in Venezuela on an explosive device of 40 kilos,” says one of the investigation excerpts.

The prosecutor says that at the beginning of 2003 several ETA members stayed one week in a FARC camp “maintaining contacts with four leaders of that organization, during which time they decided to have an exchange of experiences about terrorist procedures.” One of the damning investigation excerpts from the Spanish authorities is when it is categorically stated that “The collaboration of the ETA terrorist organization with the FARC was extended to the offering of courses in Colombia, in the Noel Matta and Luciano Marín 'Iván' camps, between July and the middle of August of 2003. At least four militants had received training in the use of explosives.”

One of the most relevant and surprising aspects for the Spanish prosecutor was when it was discovered that a FARC guerrilla had been in Spain several times. “The FARC member Víctor Vargas traveled on two occasions to Spain in order to monitor the Colombian embassy in Madrid and Colombian president Andrés Pastrana. Vargas traveled to Spain on March 8, 2000 and on September 30, 2000 maintaining relationships with ETA terrorists and informing his commanders that it would not be difficult to attempt an assassination if they could count on the collaboration of ETA.”

On page 13 of the report, the Spanish prosecutor tells how two ETA members identified as Martín Capa and Iñaqui Domínguez were not long ago in the Colombian jungles giving courses on explosives to FARC members and to members of the Bolivarian Liberation Front (FLB), a subversive group based in Venezuela that has publicly stated its backing for the Hugo Chávez government. “In the month of August of 2007 they gave a course to 13 FARC members and to seven from the FLB about the use of explosives. The course lasted 20 days in which theoretical and practical sessions on the use of the C4 explosive were given, an explosive that had the advantage of a destructive effect greater than dynamite, easily acquired in Venezuela. Domínguez gave a session on the use of cellular telephones as a mechanism to set off explosive charges,” says one of the investigation excerpts.

In the document, the Spanish prosecutor also makes a reference to training sessions that had been undertaken in the “La Veremos” ranch, located between the settlements of El Amparo and Guasdalito in the state of Apure, Venezuela. Also, it refers to other ETA members, known by the aliases of “Angel,” “Teo” and “Enrique.” They also had given courses on explosives in the camp of guerrilla head Jesús Santrich in Venezuela.
The Spanish prosecutor dedicates a good part of his report affirming that his investigation about ETA-FARC links coincides in many aspects with the facts found in the emails of “Raul Reyes,” which were handed over by the Colombian Fiscalía, the Colombian prosecutor general’s office, to their Spanish counterpart. Although the investigation that is taking place in Spain reveals for the first time concrete facts about the alliance among the two terrorist groups, it also leaves one worrying fact clear: the alliance is stronger and more solid than was suspected.

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