Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.
jhopson88

The Cuban Five were fighting terrorism. Why did we put them in jail? - The Washington Post




The Cuban Five were fighting terrorism. Why did we put them in jail? - The Washington Post

Blogs & Columns

Featured Blogs

Blogs & Columns

Blogs & Columns

Blogs & Columns

Blogs & Columns

Blogs & Columns

Blogs & Columns

Blogs & Columns

Blogs & Columns

Some in GOP say shutdown strategy failed

D.C.’s private eye has seen it all

PHOTOS | Why we deserve shutdown pay

Explore real-time news, visually

ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images - A card with pictures of five Cubans convicted in 2001 of spying on the United States for the Cuban government.

Stephen Kimber teaches journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Canada, and is the author of “What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five.”

Consider for a moment what would happen if American intelligence agents on the ground in a foreign country uncovered a major terrorist plot, with enough time to prevent it. And then consider how Americans would react if authorities in that country, rather than cooperate with us, arrested and imprisoned the U.S. agents for operating on their soil.

More from Outlook

Gerard Magliocca

It’s the law of the land. But it isn’t beyond debate.

Francis Fukuyama

Our system is designed to block action.

Robert Costa

Are they just following Ted Cruz?

Gallery

Memorable myths of 2013: Fact or fiction? A collection from Outlook’s popular Five Myths series.

Those agents would be American heroes. The U.S. government would move heaven and Earth to get them back.

This sort of scenario has occurred, except that, in the real-life version, which unfolded 15 years ago last month, the Americans play the role of the foreign government, and Cuba — yes, Fidel Castro’s Cuba — plays the role of the aggrieved United States.

In the early 1990s, after the demise of the Soviet Union made the collapse of Cuba’s communist government seem inevitable, Miami’s militant Cuban exile groups ratcheted up their efforts to overthrow Castro by any means possible, including terrorist attacks. In 1994, for example, Rodolfo Frometa, the leader of an exile group, was nabbed in an FBI sting trying to buy a Stinger missile, a grenade launcher and anti-tank rockets that he said he planned to use to attack Cuba. In 1995, Cuban police arrested two Cuban Americans after they tried to plant a bomb at a resort in Varadero.

Those actions clearly violated U.S. neutrality laws, but America’s justice system mostly looked the other way. Although Frometa was charged, convicted and sentenced to almost four years in jail, law enforcement agencies rarely investigated allegations involving exile militants, and if they did, prosecutors rarely pursued charges. Too often, Florida’s politicians served as apologists for the exile community’s hard-line elements.

But the Cubans had their own agents on the ground in Florida. An intelligence network known as La Red Avispa was dispatched in the early 1990s to infiltrate militant exile groups. It had some successes. Agents thwarted a 1994 plan to set off bombs at the iconic Tropicana nightclub, a tourist hot spot in Havana. And they short-circuited a 1998 scheme to send a boat filled with explosives from the Miami River to the Dominican Republic to be used in an assassination attempt against Castro.

In the spring of 1998, Cuban agents uncovered a plot to blow up an airplane filled with beach-bound tourists from Europe or Latin America. The plot resonated: Before 2001, the most deadly act of air terrorism in the Americas had been the 1976 midair bombing of Cubana Airlines Flight 455, which killed all 73 passengers and crew members.

Castro enlisted his friend, Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to carry a secret message about the plot to President Bill Clinton. The White House took the threat seriously enough that the Federal Aviation Administration warned airlines.

In June of that year, FBI agents flew to Havana to meet with their Cuban counterparts. During three days in a safe house, the Cubans provided the FBI with evidence their agents had gathered on various plots, including the planned airplane attack and an ongoing campaign of bombings at Havana hotels that had taken the life of an Italian Canadian businessman.

Loading...

Comments

SuperFan Badge

SuperFan badge holders consistently post smart, timely comments about Washington area sports and teams.

More about badges | Request a badge

Culture Connoisseur Badge

Culture Connoisseurs consistently offer thought-provoking, timely comments on the arts, lifestyle and entertainment.

More about badges | Request a badge

Fact Checker Badge

Fact Checkers contribute questions, information and facts to The Fact Checker.

More about badges | Request a badge

Washingtologist Badge

Washingtologists consistently post thought-provoking, timely comments on events, communities, and trends in the Washington area.

More about badges | Request a badge

Post Writer Badge

This commenter is a Washington Post editor, reporter or producer.

Post Forum Badge

Post Forum members consistently offer thought-provoking, timely comments on politics, national and international affairs.

More about badges | Request a badge

Weather Watcher Badge

Weather Watchers consistently offer thought-provoking, timely comments on climates and forecasts.

More about badges | Request a badge

World Watcher Badge

World Watchers consistently offer thought-provoking, timely comments on international affairs.

More about badges | Request a badge

Post Contributor Badge

This commenter is a Washington Post contributor. Post contributors aren't staff, but may write articles or columns. In some cases, contributors are sources or experts quoted in a story.

More about badges | Request a badge

Post Recommended

Washington Post reporters or editors recommend this comment or reader post.

You must be logged in to report a comment.

You must be logged in to recommend a comment.

Comments our editors find particularly useful or relevant are displayed in Top Comments, as are comments by users with these badges: . Replies to those posts appear here, as well as posts by staff writers.

All comments are posted in the All Comments tab.

To pause and restart automatic updates, click "Live" or "Paused". If paused, you'll be notified of the number of additional comments that have come in.

E.J. Dionne Jr. 

George Will 

David Ignatius 

Janine Urbaniak Reid 

Dana Milbank 

Editorial Board 

Chris Matthews 

Eric Cantor 

::unspecified:: 

Editorial Board 

Charles Krauthammer 

Dana Milbank 

Scott Walker 

Robert J. Samuelson 

E.J. Dionne Jr. 

Harold Meyerson 

Eugene Robinson 

Editorial Board 

Robert Samuelson 

George F. Will 

The Post Most: OpinionsMost-viewed stories, videos and galleries int he past two hours

Connect with PostOpinions

Facebook: Become a fan of Washington Post Opinions

Facebook: Become a fan of Washington Post Opinions

Twitter: Follow us on Twitter

RSS: Subscribe to our RSS feeds

Alerts: Sign up for news alerts

Mobile: Washington Post on the go

App Store: View our iPhone applications

Voice Your Opinions

Have questions about Post content or practices?

Write a response to a piece in The Post.

Make an argument about a topic in the news.

Today's Opinions poll

1.

Join a Discussion

Weekly schedule, past shows

More ways to get us

Contact Us

About Us

Partners




Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl