Al-Qaeda's Cuban connection: terrorism with a Latin beat
By Toby Westerman
November 1, 2011

Recent news of a Cuban national arrested apparently acting in sympathy with Al-Qaeda and earlier reports of Cubans working with Al-Qaeda operatives in the Western Sahara region of Morocco only hint at an on-going and highly developed link between Havana and fundamentalist Islam, including the terror group responsible for the devastating 9-11 attacks on American soil, Al-Qaeda.

Cuban intelligence, one of the best spy services in the world, appears to have established close contact with Al-Qaeda through Pakistani contacts in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, according to an analysis of a veteran Cuba watcher and former Counterintelligence officer. A working relationship between Havana and fundamentalist Islam in one of the most volatile regions of the world threatens the lives of U.S. service personnel and those who cooperate with them.

In an exclusive interview with International News Analysis Today, Chris Simmons, a retired Counterintelligence Special Agent with 28 years service in the Army/Army Reserve and 25 with the Defense Intelligence Agency, tied the stationing of high-level Cuban intelligence operatives in Pakistan with Al-Qaeda personnel operating in the region. Simmons has briefed members of Congress on the Cuban intelligence threat, including members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"I don't have definitive proof, but abundant circumstantial evidence points to Cuba and Al-Qaeda assisting each other in Islamabad," Simmons stated.

Havana and fundamentalist Islam are no strangers. The terror group Hamas is reported to have a presence in the Cuban capital, and Communist Cuba has close contacts with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The latest, and possibly the most dangerous, point of contact for Cuba and militant Islam, including Al-Qaeda, is the reopened Cuban embassy in Pakistan. The man who established that contact and became Cuba's ambassador to Pakistan is Cuban master spy, Gusatvo Machin Gomez.

Machin came to Pakistan with an impressive pedigree, which made him a key figure for the Cubans and insured a warm welcome in Pakistan.

Machin's father fought and died with Cuban Communist idol Che Guevara in Bolivia in 1967. Simmons told International News Analysis Today that Machin followed his father's political fight in the arena of espionage. Machin became a "U.S. Targets Officer," a member of a select and highly trained group of some 50 individuals who concentrate on understanding, manipulating, and inflicting damage upon critical nodes of the United States government.

"They know us better than we know ourselves," Simmons observed regarding the intense training commitment of U.S. Target Officers.

Unlike Cuba, the United States tends not to provide its intelligence officers with the same concentration on a single target, Simmons said.

Machin rose to the rank of Deputy Chief of the U.S. Department of Cuba's Foreign Affairs Ministry, which is dominated by Cuban intelligence personnel. In 1998, he went undercover as a diplomat in the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., a prime post for Cuban spies targeting the United States.

Cuba and the United States maintain limited diplomatic contact through Interests Sections within the Swiss Embassy in Washington and Havana respectively. Machin held the rank of First Secretary, which is one step below that of ambassador.

Simmons informed International News Analysis Today that Machin's rise through diplomatic channels is a common path taken by particularly skilled Cuban intelligence officers. The object of the intelligence officers is to obtain information, both secret and sensitive but unclassified, which Cuba regards as valuable, as well as exerting influence on U.S. actions in Cuba's favor.

In 2002, Machin, who became well-known in Washington, was expelled from the United States in retaliation for the activities of Ana Belen Montes, the senior Cuban analyst in the Defense Intelligence Agency who was convicted of spying for Havana.

The influence Machin exercised within various sectors of U.S. society can be seen in the expression of regret by the president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, John S. Kavulich, following the announcement of Machin's expulsion. Kavulich stated that, "The expulsion of Mr. Machin hits at the epicenter of the Cuban interface with the business community and the U.S. Congress."

Machin's next major overseas role was in Pakistan. In 2005, an earthquake killed tens of thousands of Pakistanis, and Cuba responded by sending some 2,500 medical personnel and 32 field hospitals. Machin directed the operation. Then-Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf complimented the Cuban government on its aid to his country. The Cuban embassy, which had closed in 1990, was reopened the next year.

An espionage jackpot for Cuba, Pakistan, and militant Islam followed.

Just as he had plied the halls of Congress and the U.S. business community for the benefit of Communist Cuba, now Machin took advantage of the unsettled situation in Pakistan, a nation with nuclear weapons capability, to advance Cuban interests, which often includes the death and injury of U.S. military personnel.

By 2008, Machin not only established technical, scientific, and agricultural interchanges, but the chairman of Pakistan's Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Tariq Majid, began talks on military cooperation.

Machin continually has emphasized Cuba's success in withstanding American power, a message well received by Pakistanis seeking ways to assist brother fundamentalist Muslims, including the Al-Qaeda network.

Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is also well known to be sympathetic to fundamentalist Islam, and Cuba is able to provide important information on U.S. military movements to the Pakistan government and its militant Islamic friends.

Within the pro-Cuba environment of Pakistan, Simmons sees cooperation between the ISI and Cuba, established and nurtured by espionage expert Machin.

Simmons observed that, since the beginning of the Communist Cuban revolution, Cuba has been watching and carefully noting patterns of U.S. military logistics and communications activities. Cuba monitors U.S. communications both from the island and a base of operations within the U.S., probably from the Interests Section in Washington, D.C.

Any deviation in that pattern alerts the Cubans to possible U.S. actions, and then "their spies can fill in the blanks," Simmons stated.

Cuba's espionage techniques have been mostly successful in anticipating U.S. actions from the invasion of Grenada to the American-led invasion of Iraq. Pakistani intelligence and its fundamentalist allies, including Al-Qaeda, value highly any information on U.S. actions in Afghanistan and the region.

An intelligence advantage of the kind Cuba can offer would easily translate into an increased number of American military deaths in the plains, valleys and mountains of the region.

The Cuban information is not complete. While Cuba can provide information regarding anomalies in White House, Pentagon, Special Mission, and intelligence communications, the precise meaning or the target intended would be left to the best speculation of ISI and Havana, a sometimes difficult situation as the killing of Osama bin Laden demonstrated.

Machin left his post in Pakistan in February 2011, but remained in the country for another two months for reasons that remain unclear. His replacement, Jesus Zenen Buerga Concepcion, is from the Cuban Mission to the United Nations (CMUN), a diplomatic center in New York historically known as the hub for Havana's U.S.-based espionage operations.

Cuban defector Alcibiades Hidalgo, who served at CMUN, stated that most of Cuba's diplomats to the UN were committed to intelligence activities, Simmons informed INA Today.

Machin's present position is chief of Cuba's International Press Center, the office which grants credentials to all entities wanting to station reporters in Cuba, a post traditionally held by Cuban intelligence personnel, Simmons noted.

The American public is not being informed of the dangers that Cuban intelligence presents to the United States. International News Analysis Today is working to fill this dangerous gap. The public should demand to know why the media, even the "conservative" media, almost never addresses this pressing and growing threat.

© Toby Westerman


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Toby Westerman

Mr. Toby Westerman is editor and publisher of International News Analysis Today ( Since 1996, Westerman has used English and foreign language materials to bring to public attention general trends and specific events that pose dangers to the American public but are either ignored or superficially treated by the centralized media... (more)


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