FARC plot to kill Colombia defense minister foiled

LA Times:

The would-be killers mounted a daring plan: renting a property adjacent to Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos' suburban farm and secreting police uniforms, weapons and motorcycles at the site to facilitate a Holy Week assassination.

Once again, Colombia's largest rebel group, known as the FARC, was trying to kill Santos.

In revealing the foiled plot this week and announcing the arrests of 11 alleged rebel conspirators, Colombian National Police commander Gen. Oscar Naranjo said it was the 11th such scheme uncovered against the minister in less than two years.

Analysts say Santos is a target of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, because he is a front-runner in the 2010 presidential race and if elected probably would continue President Alvaro Uribe's hard-line approach. Santos gets much of the credit for the Colombian armed forces' battlefield successes against the rebels since he became minister in July 2006.

Rebels have succeeded in getting close to Santos. In late 2007, police arrested FARC urban militia member Marilu Ramirez, who had befriended a Santos maid and inveigled a visit to the minister's house to advance an assassination plan, police say.

Other attempts involved car bombs and ambushes. Police say the most recent plot and most of the others were led by the FARC's special terrorist teams, the Teofilo Forero Column and the Antonio Nariño Urban Network.


Revenge could be another motive. Santos planned the attack that killed the FARC's No. 2 commander, Raul Reyes, in Ecuadorean territory in March 2008, an operation that sparked a regional crisis but which the minister continues to defend as appropriate.

Santos also directed the rescue of three U.S. defense contractors, former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and 11 other hostages in July that had army commandos posing as human rights workers.

"Under Santos, the armed forces have struck major blows that have done huge political damage to the rebels, amid accelerating defections of FARC fighters, including important leaders," said Jaime Zuluaga, a political scientist. "So it's not surprising the rebels see him as a propitious and symbolic victim."

Colombia appears to be still a step or two ahead of the FARC narco terrorist, both offensively and defensively. Part of that is better intelligence which has been greatly aided by the US under the Bush administration. There operations are continuing to attrite the effectiveness of the commie insurgents who have little to brag about lately. In their desperation they are looking for the big bang and that is probably one reason why they are getting caught.


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