WASHINGTON.— A declassified 1976 State Department document identifies Luis Posada Carriles as the most likely author of a terrorist attack on a Cuban airliner that year which took the lives of all 76 passengers aboard.
The memorandum, released June 3, illustrates the department’s concern regarding ties between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and extremist Cuban émigré groups in South Florida.
The note was sent by two high level CIA officials to then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, in reference to Fidel Castro’s accusations of U.S. involvement in the downing of the Cuban aircraft, as it departed Barbados on October 6, 1976.
According to the memorandum, the CIA had ties to three of the persons implicated in the attack, “but any role that these people may have had with the demolition took place without the knowledge of the CIA.”
The document details the CIA’s links with “individuals allegedly involved” in sabotaging the plane – and specifically cites Hernán Ricardo Lozano, Freddy Lugo, Luis Posada Carriles, Orlando Bosch, Frank Castro, Orlando Garcia, Ricardo Morales Navarrete and Felix Martínez Suárez – while specifying that the CIA had only made contact in the past with Posada, Bosch and Martínez Suárez. Martínez Suárez was not involved in the bombing, according to the report.
The document is signed by Harold H. Saunders, director of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research and Harry W. Shlaudeman, assistant secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs.
A heavily censured version of the memorandum was already on file at the National Security Archives, and was declassified by the State Department’s historian, with a volume of other documents concerning Central America and Mexico, from the period 1973 through 1976.
Cuba has, on multiple occasions, denounced U.S. involvement in the downing of Cubana flight 455, identifying as CIA agents the two Venezuelans, Hernán Ricardo and Freddy Lugo, who placed the bombs inside the aircraft, on the orders of Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch.
Posada was trained by the U.S. Army at Ft. Benning in the 1960s, to undertake military action against Cuba, as part of the CIA’s Operation Mongoose.
He continues to live in Miami, and has admitted his role in the 1976 terrorist attack and been identified as the organizer of a 1997 series of hotel bombings in Havana. (PL)