The date was September 11,2001; A Venezuelan businessman was obtaining a line of credit for his company, and he was completing the forms at his bank, which was located on Margarita Island. He was required to obtain the signature of a senior bank officer, and he made his way up to the executive floor. When he arrived there, to his utter surprise, there was a champagne party in progress, for the bankers, whose bank was controlled by a Middle East terrorist organization, were celebrating the attacks upon the United States. Neither the bank, nor any of its senior staff, who were regularly engaged in sending money to terrorist groups in the Middle East, were ever sanctioned by OFAC, or ever charged with moving terrorist funds through the New York banking center.
The bank also had a unique arrangement with the FARC, the Colombian SDGT; not only did it allow FARC funds to transit the bank, their relationship was so incestuous that the FARC actually maintained a teller on the floor of the bank, whose role was to process that organization's transactions.
A large number of sanctioned terrorist organizations have blossomed in Venezuela, where the Chavez regime gave them not only safe haven, but facilitated their operations. Venezuelan government agencies handed out passports and national identity cards (Cédulas) to their agents, when they arrived in the country, even giving them bogus Hispanic names in many cases, to further conceal their true Syrian or Lebanese identities.
Venezuela is a rogues' gallery of terrorist organizations, which seriously complicates the work of American and Canadian compliance officers at major banks, because there is always a chance that front-men are moving funds through their banks, on behalf of specially-designated global terrorist groups. Who can be found operating with impunity inside Venezuela:
(1) Al-Qaeda; a number of its agents found refuge there right after 9/11, to the dismay of the FBI.
(2) A number of Palestinian organizations. Some have actually conducted training in the Venezuelan countryside, with Chavez' blessing and encouragement. He is even known to have visited a Palestinian group in the field.
(3) The FARC; most of the FARCs senior commanders have been living on the Venezuelan side of the border with Colombia for years, cleverly evading capture by Colombian armed forces. The location of FARC base-camps inside Colombia have been known for years, but no effort has ever been made to attack or destroy them, for fear of creating an international incident, like what happened in Ecuador, when a cross-border raid resulted in the death of one of the FARCs most senior leaders.
(4) ETA: Members of this Spanish terrorist group, that have found their own country to hot for them to avoid capture,have been given sanctuary by the Venezuelan Government, and monthly cash US Dollar stipends of around $2500 arrive by courier from Caracas, to support them while they are guests in Venezuela; The money is reportedly paid weekly, to ensure that they are financially comfortable, and want for nothing.
Should one of these sanctioned groups, entering the Continental United States with Venezuelan passports, commits a terrorist act, then tough questions will certainly be asked in Congress, as to how such an unthinkable event was allowed to occur. Moreover, many of these groups raise money through drug trafficking, kidnapping, human trafficking, and other criminal pursuits, the profits of which often find their way through American financial institutions, which expose US banks, as gatekeepers, to civil penalties, should they fail to timely identify such transactions. The fault lies somewhere in the United States Government, for its failure to suppress the activities of organizations whose goals include attacks upon the United States, and its interests, just because they enjoy sanctuary inside Venezuela.
US regulators have never alerted the banks about the magnitude of the threats, nor have they identified the senior terrorist leaders known to be operating inside Venezuela; instead that information is classified, under the guise of monitoring their activities. meanwhile, American bankers are in the dark, and when a close relative, or associate, of a terrorist comes into the bank to open a substantial account, their ignorance allows it to happen. The United States knows very well who the terrorists are in the Western Hemisphere; how about sharing that information with your bankers ?
For further reading:
American Hands-off Policy on Venezuela has resulted in a Proliferation of Middle Eastern Terrorist Groups in Latin America