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Alpha 66 and Omega 7
Are Alpha 66 and Omega 7 Domestic or International Organizations?
After Fidel Castro's Revolutionary movement overthrew the Batista regime in Cuba and declared his country a Socialist nation allied with the Soviet Union -- the principle enemy of the United States at the time -- many Cubans opposed to Castro flocked to the United States. Many of these refugees and exiles were wealthy businessmen who were committed to overthrowing the Castro regime. The anti-Castro opposition by Cuban exiles took different forms, some of them advocating dialogue or diplomatic opposition, while others taking a hardliner position, engaging in militant activities (Garcia, 1998). The Cuban exile organizations known as Alpha 66 and Omega 7 were among the latter, resorting to violent activities inside and outside the United States, attacking persons and installations belonging to the Castro government and its allies as well as those in the United States who were sympathetic to dialogue with Cuba. These two organizations got involved in domestic and international affairs in a violent manner and their activities therefore meet the criteria of both domestic and international terrorism.
United States defines terrorism as a violent act "or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State" and involves intimidation and coercion of a civilian population; influencing "the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion"; and affecting "the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping." The definition of international terrorism stipulates that such acts "occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished," while domestic terrorism pertains to terrorist acts that "occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States" (U.S. Code). The activities of both Alpha 66 and Omega 7 meet these criteria, and therefore both of these organizations could be charged with domestic and international terrorism for their violent activities within and outside the United States. Some of the attacks by Alpha 66 and Omega 7 targeted foreign diplomats in the United States, which technically falls into the category of both domestic and international terrorism.
Omega 7 was a violent Miami-based anti-Castro terrorist organization, founded by Eduardo Arocena on September 11, 1974. The group's name derived from the fact that there were originally seven members from various anti-Castro factions. Their total number is believed to have never been more than twenty. According to the FBI Investigation, the group was supported by the Cuban Nationalist Movement [CNM|, a larger anti-Castro group with greater resources available and responsible for a car-bomb assassination of Orlando Letelier, a former Chilean Ambassador to the United States. Omega 7 primarily operated in New Jersey, New York, and Florida areas. They mostly targeted Cuban diplomats or any individual, business, or organization that had links to the Communist government of Cuba. Omega 7 resorted to bombings, assassinations, shootings, and their "terrorist attacks were usually well-planned and flawlessly executed." Some members of Omega 7 received CIA training in "demolition, intelligence, and commando techniques" and were veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. Combined with the resourced provided to them by wealthy Cuban exiles, Omega 7 members' expertise in militancy gave them "an almost unlimited potential for terrorist activity" (U.S. Department of Justice, 1993; Prieto, 2009, p. 121).
After Arocena was arrested in 1983 by the FBI, the organization's structure and power significantly weakened. In the following years, many members of Omega 7 were arrested and plead guilty to conspiracy to destroy the property of a foreign government, while Arocena admitted to being the leader of the organization and provided the FBI with information on the group's plans to assassinate the Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations Raul Roa-Kouri and Cuban Interest Section in the U.S. Ramon Sanchez Parodi. According to the FBI, Omega 7 was also involved in narcotics trafficking but has not been involved in any attacks since then (U.S. Department of Justice, 1993; Prieto, 2009, p. 122).
Alpha 66 was also formed by Cuban exiles and some early members included veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion. The organization was formed in Puerto Rico in 1961, and unlike Omega 7, Alpha 66 directed most of its attacks against Cubans and Cuban facilities in the Cuban territory. They were also responsible for attacking Soviet and Polish ships and facilities (Prieto, 2009, pp. 123-5). The group has lived in a safe haven in Miami, Florida, and is responsible for a wave of attacks and bombings in the area. The early members of Alpha 66 were left-wing militants who fought against the Batista regime, but through their opposition to Castro, later members shifted toward the right. In 1976, law enforcement agencies were forced to act against many anti-Castro terrorist groups, including Alpha 66. In a Senate hearing committee on terrorism in the Miami area, Miami Police Lieutenant Thomas Lyons accused Alpha 66 of international terrorism and asked for resources to shut the group down. The hearing also implicated Alpha 66 in "secret membership, international backing and supposed links to the CIA" (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1976).
Omega 7 and Alpha 66 were two of many militant anti-Castro groups operating in the United States. These organizations had differences in their ideological inclinations and the methods they believed needed to be used to overthrow Castro and therefore operated separately. However, members of each group were sympathetic to the activities of the other's members. For instance, Raul Ramon Sanchez, a former member of Alpha 66 and the leader of the Democracy Movement, refused to testify against Omega 7 members in mid-1980s and served in jail for four years. Sanchez described a member of Omega 7 who participated in a bombing in New York City a "friend," and explained his support for various anti-Castro groups: "I cannot condemn somebody who is willing to risk his or her life for the well-being of other people, even if I disagree with the method they are employing." Sanchez also added that he would not condemn anyone landing on the Cuban land with weapons to engage in activities against the Castro regime (Landau & Smith, 2001, p. 6).
Omega 7 could never recover from the FBI offensive that arrested their leader and several members in the mid-1980s and has become dysfunctional. Alpha 66 is still active, and according to the Cuban National Assembly report, members of Alpha 66 tried to land on the coast of Villa Clara Province in Cuba in April of 2001. They were spotted by the Cuban coastguard troops and opened fire. Alpha 66 members were detained and taken prisoner by the Cuban forces (Ludlum, 2009). The ability of such terrorist organizations to operate freely in the Miami area and carry out periodic attacks against Cuban representatives and facilities attests to the tacit support they still receive from the U.S. government. Omega 7 and Alpha 66 has had a complex relationship with the U.S. Government. From the very beginning both organizations were formed with the support of the CIA but law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, have cracked down on these organizations on several occasions.
Alpha 66 and Omega 7 were formed in response to Bay of Pigs fiasco, and since the United States agreed with the Soviet Union after the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 that it would not invade Cuba, the U.S. government switched to clandestine support for anti-Castro militant groups. The CIA formed a cozy relationship with both Alpha 66 and Omega 7, sometimes helping these organizations with logistical support or just turn a blind eye to violent acts of these organizations that targeted civilians (Iadicola & Shupe, 2003, p. 285). According to Didion (1987), Miami in 1960s became a recruiting and operational-staging center for the CIA, which at one time employed 120,000 agents many of whom were Cuban exiles. The CIA owned the third largest navy in the Western hemisphere, consisting of a fleet of small boats, as well as airline companies that were used by Cuban exiles for terrorist activities against Cuba. The CIA also had "boat shops" and "gun shops," and owned "hundreds of pieces of Miami real estate, residential bungalows maintained as safe houses, waterfront properties maintained as safe harbors" and as many as "fifty five other front businesses" that were often at the disposal of organizations such as Alpha 66 and Omega 7 (pp. 90-1).
While the intelligence and clandestine U.S. agencies supported Alpha 66 and Omega 7, domestic law enforcement agencies, including the police in New York, New Jersey, Miami, and the FBI regularly targeted members of anti-Castro terrorist organizations. The FBI's cracking down on Omega 7 and members of Alpha 66 signaled to these organizations that their violent activities within the national boundaries of the United States were not welcome. In response, Alpha 66 and Omega 7 often viewed the FBI…[continue]
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