Boston and Venezuela, Terrorism There and Here
Two major terrorist attacks took place almost simultaneously. In Boston, two Chechen terrorists set off bombs during the annual Boston Marathon killing 3 people and injuring 170. In Venezuela, terrorist supporters of defeated presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, assassinated 8 and injured 70 supporters of the victorious Socialist Party candidate Nicolas Maduro, in the course of firebombing 8 health clinics and several Party offices and homes.
In the case of Boston, the terrorist spree resulted in one further fatality—one of the perpetrators. In Venezuela, some of the terrorists are under arrest, but their political mentors are still free—in fact, they are being presented as “victims of repression” by the U.S. media.
A Dangerous Game
Chechnya has been an armed battleground for over two decades, pitting the secular Russian State against local Muslim fundamentalist separatists. Washington, fresh from arming and financing Muslim jihadis in a successful war against the secular Soviet-backed Afghan regime in the 1980s, expanded its aid program into Central Asia and the Caucasian Muslim regions of the former Soviet Union. The Russian military might have ultimately defeated the Chechen warlords, but many of their armed followers fled to other countries, joining armed, extremist Islamist groups in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and later Egypt, Libya, and now Syria. While accepting Western—especially U.S.—arms to fight secular adversaries of the U.S. Empire, the jihadis’ ultimate goal has been a clerical (Islamic) regime. Washington and the Europeans have played a dangerous game of using Muslim fundamentalists as shock troops to defeat secular nationalists, while planning to dump them in favor of neo-liberal “moderate” Muslim or secular client regimes afterwards.
This cynical policy has backfired everywhere—including in the U.S. Fundamentalists in Afghanistan took state power after the Soviets pulled out. They opposed the U.S., which invaded Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks and have successfully engaged in a 12-year war of attrition with Washington and NATO, spawning allies in Pakistan and elsewhere. Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan have served as training bases and a “beacon” for terrorists the world over.
The U.S. invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein led to ten years of al Qaeda and related-clerical terrorism in Iraq, wiping out the entire secular society. In the case of Libya and Syria, NATO and Gulf State arms greatly expanded the arsenals of terrorist fundamentalists in North and Sub-Sahara Africa and the Middle East. Western-sponsored fundamentalist terrorists were directly related to the perpetrators of 9/11 and there is little doubt that the recent actions of the Chechen bombers in Boston are products of this latest upsurge of NATO-backed fundamentalist advances.
But against all the evidence to the contrary, Chechen terrorists are viewed by the White House as “freedom fighters” engaged in liberating their country from the secular Russians. Perhaps that appraisal will change.
The candidate of the U.S.-backed opposition, Henrique Capriles has lived up to his reputation for violent politics. In the run-up to his failed candidacy in the Venezuelan presidential election on April 15, his followers sabotaged power lines, causing frequent national blackouts. His supporters among the elite hoarded basic consumer items, causing shortages, and repeatedly threatened violence if the election went against them. With over 100 international observers from the United Nations, European Commission, and the Jimmy Carter Center there to certify the Venezuelan elections, Capriles and his inner circle unleashed their street gangs, who proceeded to target Socialist voters, campaign workers, health clinics, newly-built low-income housing projects, and Cuban doctors and nurses.
The “white terror” resulted in 8 deaths and 70 injuries. Over 135 right- wing street thugs were arrested and 90 were charged with felonies, conspiracy to commit murder and destroying public property. Capriles’s violent political credentials go back at least a decade when he played a major role in the bloody coup which briefly overthrew President Hugo Chavez in 2002. Capriles then led a gang of armed thugs in an assault on the Cuban embassy, “arresting” legitimate cabinet ministers who had taken refuge. After a combined military and popular mass movement restored President Chavez, Capriles was placed under arrest for violence and treason. The Venezuelan Attorney General, Danilo Anderson, was in the process of prosecuting Capriles and several hundred of his terrorist supporters when he was assassinated by a car bomb planted by supporters of the failed coup.
Though Capriles’s electoral propaganda was given a face-lift—he even called himself a candidate of the “center-left” and a supporter of several of President Chavez”s “social missions”—his close ties with terrorist operatives were revealed by his call for violent action as soon as his defeat was announced. His veiled threat to organize a “mass march” and seize the headquarters of the electoral offices was only called off when the government ordered the National Guard and the Armed Forces on high alert. Capriles temporarily suspended violent activity and regrouped his forces, allowing the legal/electoral face of his movement to come to the fore.
In response to the terrorist incident in Boston, the local, state and federal police were mobilized and literally shut down the entire city and its transport networks and went on a comprehensive and massive “manhunt”: the mass media and the entire population were transformed into tools of a police state investigation. Entire blocks and neighborhoods were scoured as thousands of heavily armed police and security forces went house to house, room to room, dumpster to dumpster looking for a wounded 19-year-old college freshman.
A terror alert was raised for the entire country and overseas police networks and intelligence agencies were involved in the search. The media and the government constantly showed photos of the victims, emphasizing their horrific injuries and the gross criminality of the act: it was unthinkable to discuss any political dimensions to the act.
When the Venezuelan oppositionist terrorists launched their assault on citizens and public institutions, they were given unconditional support by the Obama regime, which claimed the killers were really “democrats seeking to uphold free election.” Secretary of State Kerry even refused to recognize the electoral victory of President Maduro. In response, the Venezuelan government did not declare martial law: at most the National Guard and loyalist police upheld the law and arrested several dozen protestors and terrorists (many of the former not directly linked to violence were quickly released). Moreover, despite the internationally certified elections by over 100 observers, the Maduro government conceded the chief demand for an electoral recount in the hope of averting further right-wing bloodshed.
All the major Western news agencies, including the “respectable” print media (Financial Times, New York Times, and Washington Post) converted the Venezuelan political assassins into “peaceful protestors” who were victimized for attempting to register their dissent. In other words, Washington and the entire media came out in favor of political terror perpetrated against an adversarial democratic government, while invoking a near-martial law for a brutal, but limited, act of terror in the U.S.
The U.S. media blocked out discussion of the ties between Chechen terrorist front groups based in the U.S. and UK. And leading U.S. neocon- servatives, including Rudolph Giuliani, Richard Perle, Kenneth Adleman, Elliott Abrams, Midge Dector, Frank Gaffney, and R. James Woolsey—all members of the self- styled American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (re-named after the horrific Beslan school massacre)—are full supporters of the “war on terror” or should we say supporters of “terror and war” (“Chechen Terrorists and the Neocons” by former FBI official Coleen Rowley, 4/19/13). The headquarters and nerve center for many “exiled” Chechen leaders long sought by Russian authorities for mass terrorist activities is Boston, Massachusetts, another “fact” ignored by the FBI and the Justice Department, perhaps because of long-standing working relations in organizing terrorist incidents aimed at destabilizing Russia.
Former presidential candidate and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, after the bombing, stated that Chechens “were only focused (sic) on Russia” and not on the U.S. Interpol and U.S. intelligence agencies are well aware that Chechen militants have been involved in several al Qaeda terrorist groups throughout South and Central Asia, as well as the Middle East. The Russian government’s specific inquiries regarding any number of suspected Chechen terrorists or fronts have been given short shrift—apparently, including the activities of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
The Deeper Meaning
U.S. support for Venezuelan terrorists is part of a complex multi- track policy combining the exploitation of electoral processes and the clandestine funding of NGO’s for the “grassroots” agitation of local grievances, together with support for “direct action,” including “trial runs” of political violence against the symbols and institutions of social democracy. Past U.S. experiences with political terror in Latin America has had a boomerang effect—as evident by the Miami-based Cuban terrorist engagement with numerous bombings, gun-running, and drug trafficking within the U.S., especially the 1976 car bombing assassination of the exiled Chilean Minister, Orlando Letelier, and an American associate, on Embassy Row in Washington, DC (an action never characterized as “terrorism” because of official U.S. ties to the perpetrators).
Despite financial, political, and military links between Washington and terrorists, especially fundamentalists, the latter retain their organizational autonomy and follow their own political-cultural agenda, which, in most cases, is hostile to the U.S. As far as the Chechens, the Afghans, and the al Qaeda Syrians are concerned, the U.S. is a tactical ally to be discarded on the road to establishing independent fundamentalist states.
By siding with terrorists and their political spokespeople and refusing to recognize the validity of the elections in Venezuela, the Obama regime has totally alienated itself from all of South America and the Caribbean. By supporting violent assaults against democratic institutions in Venezuela, the White House is signaling to its clients in opposition to the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, and Ecuador—that violent assaults against independent democratic governments is an acceptable road to restoring the neo-liberal order and U.S.-centered “regional integration.”
Washington’s opposition to terrorism depends on the political goals of the terrorists and on the target adversaries. In the Boston case, the U.S. government declared virtual “martial law” in order to kill or capture two terrorists who had attacked U.S. citizens in a single locale; whereas in the case of Venezuela, the Obama regime gave political and material support to the terrorists in order to subvert the constitutional order and electoral regime.
Meanwhile, in order to cover-up the Chechen-Washington working alliance, the Boston Marathon bombing will be reduced to an isolated act by two misguided youths, led astray by an anonymous fundamentalist website—their actions reduced to “religious fundamentalism.” And despite an economy in crisis, tens of billions more dollars will be allocated to expand the police state at home, citing its effectiveness and efficiency in the aftermath of the bombings while secretly sending more millions to foment “democratic” terror in Venezuela.
James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. He is the author of more than 62 books and over 600 articles in journals, including the American Sociological Review and Social Research.