Report: Venezuela a New Safe Haven for Palestinian Terrorists

YERUSHALAYIM -
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (L.)  welcomes Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Caracas in 2018. (Reuters)

Last week, Yisrael Hayom reported that a Venezuelan hacker group by the name Team HDP broke into the country’s Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence, gaining access to information on purported Hezbollah operatives living freely in the country under the protection of President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government.

Now, new details have emerged: According to the information stolen by Team HDP, Venezuela also hosts Palestinian terrorist cells involved in money laundering, drug dealing and terrorist activity, among other crimes. It was also revealed that Cuba’s foreign intelligence agency plays a central role in the matter.

One of the Palestinian cells, according to the information from Venezuela’s Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence, allegedly belongs to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of the Fatah faction. The cell reportedly consists of at least four men identified as “doctors,” whose cover includes working for Venezuela’s national social security agency in Merida state in the country’s northwest. “Fawaz Snofar,” “Mahmoud Khalaf” and “Muhammad Abu-Rah” are some of the names that appear on the list.

The report alleges that the Palestinian “doctor” cell is responsible for the deaths of several patients due to medical malpractice, possibly the result of their questionable medical bona fides. One of the names mentioned on the list, “Khaled Badawi,” is said to be of Pakistani origin and allegedly belongs to several Palestinian terrorist groups. Under the guise of being a doctor, his name was connected to activity in Merida, “a region in which uranium, thorium and coltan mines currently operate.”

An Israeli source told Yisrael Hayom’s Arab Affairs correspondent Daniel Siryoti that one of the names on the list is indeed known to the Israeli security services after he was questioned in Israel for throwing rocks at IDF soldiers as a 16-year-old. “Consequently, he was expelled from the country and forbidden from returning until the age of 21,” the source said.

As stated, the report also sheds light on the role of a spy agency the Israeli public is likely less familiar with – the Cuban Intelligence Directorate, commonly known as G2. Aside from Iran, Cuba is a key ally of the regime in Caracas.

“The Cuban G2 are the architects of the reforms within the [Venezuelan] regime’s intelligence services,” explains Ivan Simonovis, an expert on Venezuelan intelligence matters and a former long-time intelligence operative himself who, among other things, created the first Venezuelan police tactical team and later also served as security chief of the Metropolitan District of Caracas.

Simonovis, 61, was arrested in November 2004 and accused by the Hugo Chávez government of the violence that took place in Caracas in April 2002. In 2009, he was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Due to deteriorating health, Simonovis was granted house arrest to receive medical treatment in September 2014. Five years later, he fled to Miami, where he was granted political asylum.

Addressing the Hezbollah terrorist cells supposedly based on Margarita Island, as revealed by Yisrael Hayom, Simonovis said: “Over the past 20 years, numerous mosques have been built on the island and massive amounts of people of Middle Eastern origin moved there. No one knows who they are and what they do exactly. It’s easier to run into a Middle Easterner on the island than a native resident.”

Simonovis also identified the man to which all roads apparently lead: Petroleum Minister and former Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami.

“They [Hezbollah operatives] trust him and prefer doing business with someone familiar. El Aissami’s father is a known Syrian activist with longstanding ties to terrorist organizations,” said Simonovis.