A CIA covert action program has helped Colombia’s armed forces kill more than two dozen leaders of rebel groups FARC and ELN, the Washington Post reported Saturday based on numerous testimonies by US officials.
The newspaper said that the ongoing program began in 2006 and consists of providing the Colombian military with real-time intelligence, smart bombs, and GPS guidance for conventional bombs or missiles.
Additionally, the Colombian government was given “substantial” help with spying and wiretapping by the National Security Agency.
The funding for the program that began under former US president George W. Bush, is funded through a multibillion-dollar black budget that has been kept out of the books of US military aid to Colombia that has become known as ” Plan Colombia.”
One of the most prominent operations that was carried out with US intelligence and hardware was the controversial, but successful cross-border attack on an Ecuadorean camp of “Raul Reyes,” at the time of his death considered the FARC’s number two, the Washington Post said.
The US has never before disclosed its involvement with the operation that led to international criticism and a diplomatic crisis between Colombia and its neighbors as no permission had been asked to carry out military operations on Ecuadorean soil.
According to the newspaper, the US program has assisted in the operations that killed at least two dozen rebel commanders and is partly responsible for the reduction of the rebel groups’ military strength since the US became actively involved in the armed conflict in 2000.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos told the Washington Post that the US program has “been of help” but would not go into details. The CIA officially declined to comment.
- Covert action in Colombia (Washington Post)