Country Reports on Terrorism 2007 - Venezuela

In May 2007, Venezuela was re-certified as "not cooperating fully" with U.S. antiterrorism efforts under Section 40A of the Arms Export and Control Act, as amended (the "Act"). Pursuant to this certification, defense articles and services may not be sold or licensed for export to Venezuela from October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2008. This certification will lapse unless it is renewed by the Secretary of State by May 15, 2008.

President Hugo Chavez persisted in his public criticism of U.S. counterterrorism efforts and deepened Venezuelan relationships with state sponsors of terrorism Iran and Cuba. Chavez's ideological sympathy for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), along with high levels of corruption among Venezuelan officials, limited Venezuelan cooperation with Colombia in combating terrorism. FARC and ELN units regularly crossed into Venezuelan territory to rest and regroup.

It remained unclear to what extent the Venezuelan government provided support to Colombian terrorist organizations. However, limited amounts of weapons and ammunition, some from official Venezuelan stocks and facilities, have turned up in the hands of Colombian terrorist organizations. The Venezuelan government did not systematically police the 1,400-mile Venezuelan-Colombian border to prevent the movement of groups of armed terrorists or to interdict arms or the flow of narcotics.

In another case, the trial began on February 22 for two self-proclaimed Islamic extremists that were arrested in October 2006 for placing a pair of pipe bombs outside the American Embassy in Caracas. At year's end, the Venezuelan government continued to prosecute both persons, and they remained in police custody.

In March, Iran and Venezuela began weekly Iran Airlines flights connecting Tehran and Damascus with Caracas. Passengers on these flights were not subject to immigration and customs controls at Simon Bolivar International Airport. On June 1, one of the JFK Airport bombing subjects, Abdul Kadir, was arrested at the airport in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on board a flight destined for Caracas, Venezuela. He had an onward ticket to Tehran. Venezuelan citizenship, identity, and travel documents remained easy to obtain, making Venezuela a potentially attractive way station for terrorists. International authorities remained suspicious of the integrity of Venezuelan documents and their issuance process.


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