U.S. Suspects Hezbollah Activity in Chile
(February 27, 2006)
Classified U.S. diplomatic cables, leaked by the whistleblower site WikiLeaks, provided details U.S. suspicions of Islamic fundamentalist activity in Iquique and Santiago, Chile. According to the cable, the Hezbollah groups in northern Chile were believed to be financial cells.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 SANTIAGO 000401
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AMGT, ASEC, PTER
SUBJECT: SECURITY ENVIRONMENT PROFILE QUESTIONNAIRE (SEPQ)
REF: SECSTATE 17684
1. (SBU) DEMONSTRATIONS
A. ARE THERE ANY ETHNIC OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES IN COUNTRY CAPABLE OF CARRYING OUT SIGNIFICANT ANTI-AMERICAN DEMONSTRATIONS?
Yes. A small community of Arab-Muslim descent could demonstrate against U.S. interests. Members of this community have participated in demonstrations concerning the war in Iraq. Not to be confused with this small group is the larger Chilean community of Palestinian Arabs and Lebanese - many into their third and fourth generations - who are fully integrated into Chilean society, but may share some of the same political positions. Members of this community have also demonstrated against U.S. interests. The sizable Cuban community living in Santiago is also capable of carrying out demonstrations against U.S. interests.
B. HAVE THERE BEEN ANTI-AMERICAN DEMONSTRATIONS IN THE COUNTRY WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS?
Yes, there have been two Cuban lead demonstrations.
C. HAVE DEMONSTRATIONS TAKEN PLACE NEAR OR IN FRONT OF U.S. DIPLOMATIC FACILITIES?
D. WHAT IS THE AVERAGE SIZE OF THE ANTI-AMERICAN DEMONSTRATION?
30 to 50.
E. ARE ANTI-AMERICAN DEMONSTRATIONS USUALLY TRIGGERED BY U.S. FOREIGN POLICY INITIATIVES, MILITARY ACTIONS, OR BY DOMESTIC ISSUES?
Yes, demonstrations have been triggered by all of the above.
F. ARE DEMONSTRATIONS GENERALLY VIOLENT OR PEACEFUL?
Demonstrations directed at the Embassy are generally peaceful. Demonstrations directed toward the host government, which take place away from the Embassy, can and often do turn somewhat violent, with rock throwing and molotov cocktails. Police respond with tear gas and water cannons.
G. IF VIOLENT, HAVE ANY DEMONSTRATIONS RESULTED IN DAMAGE TO USG PROPERTY OT INJURIES TO USG EMPLOYEES?
H. IF VIOLENT, HAVE ANY DEMONSTRATORS EVER PENETRATED OUR PERIMETER SECURITY LINE?
I. HAVE THERE BEEN ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATIONS IN THE COUNTRY WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS?
Yes. At the huge copper mines - most located in the distant northern part of the country, but a couple are within a two-hour drive on Santiago.
J. HAVE DEMONSTRATIONS TAKEN PLACE NEAR OR IN FRONT OF U.S. DIPLOMATIC FACILITIES?
K. WHAT IS THE AVERAGE SIZE OF AN ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATION?
May be as strong as 5000.
L. ARE DEMONSTRATIONS GENERALLY VIOLENT OR PEACEFUL?
Demonstrations are generally peaceful. However, there are often groups participating in these demonstrations who are prone to violence. Due to this, some demonstrations do turn violent.
M. IF VIOLENT, HAVE ANY DEMONSTRATIONS RESULTED IN DAMAGE TO USG PROPERTY?
2. (SBU) MACRO CONFLICT CONDITIONS
A. IS THE HOST COUNTRY ENGAGED IN AN INTERSTATE OR INTRASTATE CONFLICT? (THIS MAY INCLUDE BATTLES BETWEEN ORGANIZED AND VIOLENT DRUG CARTELS).
B. IF AN INTRASTATE CONFLICT, IS IT AN INSURGENCY LIMITED TO A SPECIFIC REGION OR IS IT A COUNTRYWIDE CIVIL WAR?
C. IF LIMITED TO A SPECIFIC REGION, ARE ANY U.S. DIPLOMATIC FACILITIES LOCATED IN THIS REGION?
D. HAVE ANY OF THESE FACTIONS INVOLVED IN INTRASTATE CONFLICTS SIGNALED OR DEMONSTRATED AN ANTI-AMERICAN ORIENTATION?
3. (SBU) HOST COUNTRY CAPABILITIES
A. ARE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES PROFESSIONAL AND WELL-TRAINED?
Yes. However, they do not coordinate with one another on a consistent basis.
B. HAVE THEY BEEN TRAINED BY U.S. AGENCIES? IF SO, PLEASE ELABORATE ON EFFECTIVENESS OF TRAINING.
Yes. Both of the Chilean national Police agencies (the Carabineros and the Investigaciones) have received training from U.S. law enforcement agencies. Training has improved their effectiveness, both law enforcement agencies have continued to seek our assistance in training.
C. ARE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES CONFRONTED WITH SERIOUS, WIDESPREAD CORRUPTION IN SIDE THEIR AGENCIES?
No. Transparency International rated Chile as ranking just below the U.S. in the perception of corruption, by far the best rating for any country in Latin America.
D. ARE THE INTELLIGENCE SERVICES PROFESSIONAL AND CAPABLE OF DETERRING TERRORIST ACTIONS?
Yes. In 2004, the Chilean Government created a new de facto intelligence service, which currently provides analytical support for the operational units within Policia de investigacion de Chile (PICH) and the Carabineros. Supportive of the U.S., they share their product with appropriate Embassy officials. Chilean services have been supportive in multiple bi-national intelligence operations.
E. HAVE THE INTELLIGENCE SERVICES BEEN COOPERATIVE WITH U.S. EMBASSY REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION AND SUPPORT?
Yes. But only if done through proper formal channels.
F. ASSUMING THERE HAVE BEEN SIGNIFICANT TERRORIST THREATS IN RECENT YEARS, HAVE HOST COUNTRY SECURITY SERVICES BEEN ABLE TO SCORE ANY MAJOR ANTI-TERRORISM SUCCESSES
None identified in recent years. However, Chilean security services have general skills and the will to successfully neutralize terrorist plans when/if identified.
G. HAS HOST COUNTRY BEEN RESPONSIVE (RE: TIMELINES AND ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES) TO EMBASSY REQUEST FOR PROTECTIVE SECURITY?
Yes. Response to request for security support have been immediate and more than adequate. Host government protective security services originating from the Carabineros de Chile, although professional, are inflexible when it comes to adjusting motorcade support for visiting U.S. dignitaries. On VIP visits, they make few or no concessions to their concept of appropriate security - i.e. when it comes to how many agents are allowed in a room in addition to the Carabineros themselves whether line of sight will be respected in a bilateral meeting, etc.
H. HOW DOES THE EMBASSY ASSESS THE OVERALL SECURITY AT MAJOR AIRPORTS IN THE COUNTRY? (EXCELLENT, VERY GOOD,GOOD/AVERAGE, POOR)
Good. Overall security at Chilean airports is good. In the Terminal, there is a uniformed police presence which consist of airport police (Carabineros) and PICH police in the immigration section. Metal detectors are used at entrances to gate areas and are of sufficient quality to detect weapons such as guns and knives. However, a determined terrorist could circumvent these measure. International travelers are given a more thorough check at Santiago International Airport. Access to aircraft is easy and flight line security is generally poor as trucks are not thoroughly checked. There is a Company-size counter-terrorist trained Special Forces unit Fuerzas Aereas de Chile (FACH-Chilean Air Force), this unit is assigned to guard against and respond to a hijacking or other terrorist incidents at the airport.
I. HOW EFFECTIVE ARE CUSTOMS AND IMMIGRATION AGENCIES?
Effective. Customs controls are generally effective at Santiago (for incoming items) and Iquique (for outgoing items because Iquique is a duty-free zone). Everyone entering Chile must pass through immigration checkpoints. While magnifiers are available at Santiago Airport and Chilean customs officials have received training in detection of fraudulent passports, Chile permits entry with only an easily counterfeited Identification Card by citizens of many countries in the region.
J. HOW EFFECTIVE ARE BORDER PATROL FORCES?
Average. Chile uses its military and police for border control. However, the Chilean government publicly admits that they do not have the kind of equipment and resources needed to effectively control their long land and maritime borders. While Chile has extensive land and sea borders where determined groups could enter undetected, the main established crossing points are well guarded.
4. (SBU) ANTI-AMERICAN TERRORIST GROUPS
A. ARE THERE INDIGENOUS, ANTI-AMERICAN TERRORIST GROUPS IN COUNTRY?
Uncertain. There is conflicting information about Anti-American indigenous groups in Chile. Iranian-backed and Hezbollah-backed groups have continued to seek support from indigenous individuals.
B. IF YES HOW MANY?
C. HAVE GROUPS CARRIED OUT ANTI-AMERICAN ATTACKS WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS?
D. WERE ANY OF THESE LETHAL ATTACKS?
E. HAVE GROUPS ATTACKED U.S. DIPLOMATIC TARGETS?
F. HAVE GROUPS ATTACKED U.S. BUSINESS, U.S. MILITARY , OR U.S. RELATED TARGETS?
G. HAVE GROUPS LIMITED THEIR ATTACKS TO SPECIFIC REGIONS OR DO THEY OPERATE COUNTRY WIDE?
H. IF ATTACKS ARE LIMITED TO REGIONS, ARE THERE ANY U.S. DIPLOMATIC FACILITIES LOCATED IN THESE REGIONS?
5. (SBU) OTHER INDIGENOUS TERRORIST GROUPS
A. ARE THERE OTHER INDIGENOUS TERRORIST GROUPS (NOT ANTI-AMERICAN) IN COUNTRY?
No. However, there is an indigenous Mapuche Indian population in southern Chile, which does resort to violence directed toward host government and some property owners in the region. This activity, while not anti-American in nature, could affect Americans who are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
B. IF YES, HOW MANY?
C. HAVE GROUPS CARRIED OUT ATTACKS IN THE CAPITAL OR IN AREAS WHERE U.S. DIPLOMATIC FACILITIES ARE LOCATED?
D. WERE ATTACKS LETHAL AND/OR INDISCRIMINATE?
E. HAVE THERE BEEN ANY AMERICANS KILLED OR INJURED IN THESE ATTACKS?
6. (SBU) TRANSNATIONAL TERRORIST INDICATORS
A. ARE THERE ANY FOREIGN TERRORIST GROUPS THAT HAVE A PRESENCE IN COUNTRY?
Yes. There is reporting that suggest Hezbollah supporters are present in northern Chile. Additionally, there are indications that there may be Pakistani extremists and others sympathetic to Al-Qaida. There is a radical fundamentalist presence in Iquique, Chile and to a lessor degree in Santiago. These fundamentalist who are known to be associated with Hezbollah are increasing their presence and activity in Chile. To date, law enforcement has been unable to collect sufficient intelligence to gauge their true intentions. There is substantial information that indicates that significant financial fund-raising for Hezbollah is taking place in northern Chile within the Muslim community. No hostile activities have been detected originating form the Islamic Center in Santiago, nor from a Sunni Mosque.
B. HOW DOES THE EAC ACCESS THIS PRESENCE?
The Santiago Islamic Center certainly provides financial support to unknown terrorists. Sporadic reporting suggests that these groups have capability to plan operations should they chose to do so. Periodically there is unsubstantiated reporting which indicates an intention to plan a terrorist act somewhere in the region, but nothing definite. The Hezbollah groups in the northern part of Chile are believed to be financial cells.
C. IS THE HOST GOVERNMENT SYMPATHETIC TO THE SE GROUPS?
No. The host government is working with the U.S. government to monitor them and take action against them if required.
D. ARE THERE SUSPECT NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOS) IN THE COUNTRY THAT HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH ANY OF THESE GROUPS?
E. ARE THERE ANY ETHNIC OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES IN COUNTRY
THAT ARE SYMPATHETIC TO THESE GROUPS?
Yes. The relatively small non-native, Arab-Muslim population of Chile finds some political sympathy in the much larger, 100-year-old community of Chileans of Arab descent. Religious elements of the Iranian government have contact with and monetary support to the Santiago Islamic Center.
F. HOW DOES THE EAC ACCESS THE LEVEL, INTENT, AND SCOPE OF HOSTILE INTELLIGENCE SERVICES IN COUNTRY?
There are Islamic groups with anti-U.S. sentiments present and active in Chile. Information on their connections to specific hostile intelligence services is unreliable. We have no information regarding intent to engage in anti-U.S. terrorist acts in Chile.
G. HOW DOES THE EAC ACCESS THE AVAILABILITY OF WEAPONS AND EXPLOSIVES IN COUNTRY OR FROM NEARBY COUNTRIES FOR HOSTILE TERRORIST ELEMENTS?
The capability exists, due to lax border control and poor container security procedures at Chilean ports. Participation in the current U.S. container security initiative will help tighten the illegal smuggling of these types of weapons from Chile, but Chile is not a CSI country yet. Explosives are easily to obtain due to extensive mining.