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[Reference:   binder part 7 ]

U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Washington D.C. 20535

May 16, 1990


            For information of recipients, the Terrorist Research and Analytical Center (TRAC) is producing a continuing series of short, informative articles on a variety of topics relating to FBI terrorism investigations.  The following addresses a series of bombings in Florida and the issue of anti-Castro terrorism.

            Since May, 1987, the Miami, Florida metropolitan area has been the site of at least 25 bombings or attempted bombings.  Fifteen attacks have been directed against similar targets, i.e., persons or businesses with alleged sympathies or ties to the Government of Cuba.  The 15 bombings have involved the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mostly pipe bombs.  Some bombing components have been positively linked through forensic analysis.  Only one of the 15 bombings has been claimed - by the Organization Alliance of Cuban Intransigence (or Intransigent Cubans) (AIC) - and is listed as a terrorist incident by the FBI.  Of the remaining 14 bombings, 12 have been designated as suspected terrorist incidents.

            Despite the lack of explanatory communiques for the attacks, it is apparent from the chosen targets that anti-Cuban Communism is the principal issue behind the bombings.  These attacks are not the first of their kind committed to further the goals of anti-Castro Cubans; rather, they are a continuation of a long-standing fight against the Communist Government of Cuba.  Ever since the late 1950s, when the first exiles escaping the Communists on Cuba arrived in the United States, there has been almost constant anti- Castro Cuban activities in Florida and elsewhere.  Various groups were organized among the exiles.  Although some of these groups have been no more than social organizations, others were comprised of militants who sought to overthrow the Castro regime through violence.  This resulted in bombings, assassinations and other acts of violence against pro-Cuban Communist targets.  Through the years, different groups emerged to either claim credit or be held responsible for the acts of terrorism.

            The attacks by militant anti-Castro Cubans initially involved armed incursions by land or sea onto the Cuban mainland, but by the middle of the 1960's, individuals or businesses in the United States began to be increasingly targeted  One of the early leading anti-Castro Cubans was Orlando Bosch Avila, a Cuban national, who arrived as an exile from Cuba in 1960.  He was the leader of the anti-Castro group, Revolutionary Recovery Insurrection Movement (MIRR).  In June, 1965, he and four others were arrested near Orlando, Florida, with 18 aerial bombs, small arms and ammunition.  These munitions were allegedly to be used by Bosch and his associates to bomb targets in Cuba.  Bosch claimed at the time of his arrest that his group had already conducted two aerial attacks against Cuba; however, this information could not be corroborated.  All of the defendants were later acquitted of charges that they had conspired to violate the Munitions Control Act.

            By January, 1968, Bosch had organized a militant activist group called Cuban Power, although he still maintained the leadership of MIRR.  In January, Cuban Power claimed credit for the bombing of a B-25 cargo plane at the Miami International Airport.  This was followed by other attacks claimed by Cuban Power.  Some of these attacks, however, were not committed by Bosch's group.  There were two factions of Cuban Power, neither aligned to the other.  Bosch controlled one faction, while the other was led by another Cuban militant, Hector Cornillot.

            Bosch's group did not commit another act until May, 1968, when it claimed to have bombed a British freighter in Key West, Florida, and a Japanese freighter in Tampa, Florida.  Bosch's faction, furthermore, sent cablegram extortion messages to the following heads of state:  Harold Wilson (Great Britain); Gustavo Ordaz (Mexico); and Francisco Franco (Spain).  These leaders were warned that attacks would be conducted against their countries' ships and planes unless trade with Cuba was stopped.  The cablegrams were signed:  "Ernesto, General Delegate of Cuban Power."  Communiques were also issued by "Ernesto" claiming credit for the bombings in January and May, 1968.  It was later determined that Orlando Bosch was Ernesto.

            Between January, 1961 and May, 1968, more than 30 violent acts were either claimed by or attributed to Bosch.  These included bombings, armed incursions and aerial attacks against targets in Cuba, Panama and the United States.  In the summer of 1968, Bosch claimed to have placed 36 pounds of explosives against the hull of a British freighter, the "Lancastrian Princess."  The explosives were recovered.  They had been attacked to the ship's hull by chains.  The explosives were part of a 300-pound supply which had been provided to Bosch in an FBI operation.  Bosch also indicated that he had placed explosives on six other freighters belonging to Great Britain and Japan; however, this could not be verified.

            On September 16, 1968, an attack was conducted against a Polish vessel, "Polanica," in Miami Bay, with a 57 millimeter recoilless rifle.  Less than a month later, Bosch and eight others were arrested and charged with this assault.  They were also charged in connection with the mailing of extortion letters to the three heads of state and with conspiracy to damage ships of foreign registry.

            Bosch was convicted of the charges against him on November 15, 1968, and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.  On December 15, 1972, he was released on parole from the United State Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois.  In April, 1974, he left the United States for South America in violation of his parole.

            Bosch's arrest and departure from the United States did not end the anti-Castro terrorism.  In late 1974, another militant, anti-Castro group, Omega 7, was founded by Eduardo Arocena.  His reason for organizing this group was his belief that the anti-Castro movement was not active enough in seeking the violent overthrow of the Castro Government.  The membership of Omega 7 was drawn from the (Jose) Marti Insurrectional Movement, an anti-Castro group.

            During an eight-year period beginning in 1975, Omega 7 members were reportedly responsible for between 30 and 50 bombings and two assassinations.  The exact number of these attacks cannot be determined because other anti-Castro groups, such as the Cuban Nationalist Movement (CNM), issued false claims of credit on behalf of Omega 7 which confused law enforcement.  Omega 7-claimed acts occurred in the New York City metropolitan area, the Miami metropolitan area, and Washington D.C.  Among these acts were attacks against individuals sympathetic to or businesses dealing with Communist Cuba, Cuban Government interests, and interests of other countries dealings with Cuba.

            Omega 7 was neutralized when Arocena was arrested during July, 1983, in Miami.  He had in his possession automatic weapons and bombing paraphernalia.  He was convicted on a 25-count indictment which included charges of first degree murder, Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) violations and bombing and explosives violations.  More than a dozen Omega 7 members or their associates were also charged and convicted, mostly on criminal contempt violations for failure to testify before a Federal grand jury.  Two Omega 7 members cooperated with Federal prosecutors.  A third, Jose Ignacio Gonzalez, fled the country before he could testify.  He remains a fugitive and is believed to be in Guatemala.

            Arocena was sentenced to a term of life in prison plus 35 years.  Prison sentences for other convicted Omega 7 members ranged from four to nine years.  In 1984, Arocena was also convicted in two trials on charges involving weapons violations, bombings and conspiracy.  He was sentenced to an additional 20 years' imprisonment to run concurrent with his earlier sentence.  Furthermore, in 1986, three Omega 7 members, Pedro Remon, Andres Garcia and Eduardo Fernandez, each of whom had been sentenced previously to 5 years' imprisonment on contempt charges, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to murder a foreign official and conspiracy to bomb or destroy property of a foreign government.  Each received a 10-year prison sentence.

            Of the Omega 7 members who were imprisoned, only four - Arocena, Garcia, Fernandez and Ramon - remain in jail.  All of the others have been paroled.  Omega 7 has never been able to recover from these arrests.  Even after those who were imprisoned were released, the group was not reestablished to the extent that it had been.  Perhaps the fact that the leader, Arocena, remains in custody has had some bearing on this.

            The last act that was claimed by Omega 7 was in May, 1983, several weeks before Arocena was arrested.  No additional anti-Castro styled bombings are known to have been committed until May, 1987, when the current series of attacks began.  The Cuban anti-Communist movement, to be sure, had not lain dormant during this four-year period.  The Omega 7 arrests eliminated neither the anti-Castro feelings nor the radicals who saw violence as their only recourse.  The arrests, however, did temper, albeit for a short period, the violent activities of the radicals.

            Because reasons for an attack were given in only one instance, it is not known why bombings began anew in May, 1987, or what event, if any, triggered them.  Since the initial targets were freight forwarding companies, thorough which goods are transported to Cuba via third countries, one possible motive might be to force these companies to stop.  It is also not presently known whether all of the attacks are interrelated and are the result of efforts of one group, or if they are alike solely because of the general nature of the target - anti-Castroism - and are being committed by more than one group.  Before this can be determined, there are many differences and similarities which need to be considered regarding targets, victims and modus operandi.

            Of the 13 attacks which appear to be anti-Castro in nature and which have been designated as either terrorist incidents or suspected terrorist incidents, nine involved the use of pipe bombs, of which one failed to detonate.  They are as follows:

             -- May 1, 1987, a pipe bombing at Cubanacan in Miami;

             -- May 2, 1987, a pipe bombing at Almacen El Espanol in Hialeah, Florida;

             -- May 25, 1987, a pipe bombing at Cuba Envios in Miami

             -- July 30, 1987, a pipe bombing at Machi Community Services in Miami;

             -- August 27, 1987, a pipe bombing at Va Cuba in Hialeah;

             -- January 2, 1988, a pipe bombing at Miami-Cuban in Miami;

             -- May 3, 1988, a pipe bombing at the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture in Miami;

             -- May 26, 1988, a bombing at the residence of the executive director for the Institute of Cuban Studies in
                                         Coral Gables,  Florida, claimed by the AIC;

             -- September 5, 1988, a pipe bombing at Bela Cuba in Miami;

             -- September 18, 1988, a bombing intended for a leader of the Reunion Flotilla, a group which advocates that all persons
                                                   should be able to enter or leave Cuba as they please, in      Miami;

             -- February 24, 1989, an attempted pipe bombing at Almacen El Espanol in Miami;

             -- March 26, 1989, a bombing at Marazul Charters in Miami; and

             -- September 10, 1989, a bombing at Super Optical in Hialeah.

            Of the 12 successful bombings, 11 occurred either during the late evening or early morning hours, between 10:20  p.m. and 3:45 a.m.; the most recent attack occurred at 5:50 a.m.  Although some of the bombings have specifically targeted residences, there have been no deaths or injuries as a result.

            None of the pipe bombings were claimed, and no prior warning calls were received.  Only one of the other bombings was claimed, and in another, targeting a leader of the Reunion  Flotilla, there was a warning call but no claim of credit.  These two attacks were unlike any of the other bombings in that private residences were targeted.  In the other attacks, businesses and in one case a museum were targeted.

            The first six bombings have been positively linked through forensic analysis.  Toolmarks on the six devices are identical, indicating that the same tool was used to construct them.  Tests have not been completed on the remaining pipe bombings.  It has not been determined if they are identical to the first six.  The first six pipe bombings are also similar in that the targets were Cuban freight forwarding companies.  The other pipe bombings are similar to the first six attacks in that Cuban businesses were attacked.  In all of the pipe bombings, the targets involved pro-Communist Cuban interests.

            In addition, forensic analysis has not been completed on the remaining four explosions.  Therefore, it has not been determined whether they are similar in construction to one another or to the first six pipe bombings.  Two of these attacks were against targets similar to those of the pipe bombings, (Cuban businesses).  But two were completely different in that residences were targeted and one of these was claimed.

            On May 25, 1988, a bomb detonated at the home of the executive director of the Institute of Cuban Studies in Hialeah, Florida.  A telephone caller to a Spanish language radio station claimed credit for the bombing on behalf of the AIC.  This bombing was the eight in the series that began in May, 1987.  The other attack against a residence occurred on September 18, 1988.  The intended target was the residence of a leader of the Reunion Flotilla.  On September 17, a telephone call to the residence advised that a bombing would occur and that a certain individual would be responsible.  On September 18, a bomb exploded.  However, it was at a residence with an address similar to but different from the one at which the warning call was received.  A telephone caller later claimed that the wrong building had been bombed.  The person whose name was given as being responsible was found not to have been involved.

            Several suspects have been identified in the current wave of bombings.  However, because of the differences in the targets and in the types of bombing devices used, it is not known if the same individuals or group is responsible for all of the attacks.

            Furthermore, there are some indications, that the bombings may have connections to earlier anti-Castro militants.  The one recent bombing that was claimed by AIC, for example, was reportedly committed on behalf of Orlando Bosch.  Bosch, following his flight to South America in 1974, became involved in another anti-Castro group.  In 1976, he was arrested by Venezuelan authorities for his involvement in the bombing of a Cuban airliner in which 73 people died.  Bosch spent 11 years in prison during which he was twice tried and acquitted for this crime.  He was released in August 1987.  Three months later, he applied for permission to enter the United States but was denied a non-immigrant visa.  Nevertheless, on February 16, 1988, he arrived in Miami, Florida, without entry documents and was arrested by the U.S. Marshals on a warrant based on his 1974 parole violation.  He served three months in prison.

            Following his release on May 16, 1988 Bosch was rearrested by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and given notice that the U.S. Government considered him excludable.  His parole into the United States was also denied by the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida.  Because he posed a flight risk, he was ordered detained until a decision could be reached on his deportation.  On May 25, 1988, the AIC-claimed bombing occurred.  The caller who claimed credit stated that if Bosch was not released within a specified time, reprisals would be taken against the INS district director in Miami.  On June 2, 1988, the day after Bosch legal efforts to effect his release from custody were denied, the AIC threatened to bomb the Miami INS office if Bosch was not released.

            On this same date,  a letter was received by a Spanish language newspaper in Los Angeles.  The letter states that the group had  bombs and grenades and that the group had already committed eight bombings in Miami.  No connection however, could be found between this letter and the Miami bombings.

            The Orlando Bosch issue was given as the motive for only one of the attacks, but it may be a factor of greater significance.  U.S. Government efforts to deport Bosch have been decried by a number of his supporters, including militants such as Ramon Sanchez, an Omega 7 member, who had been convicted and imprisoned in 1984.  Threats of violence have been made against FBI and INS offices should the Government's efforts to deport Bosch be successful.  Sanchez's open support for Bosch, as well as his past propensity for violence, have caused law enforcement to look into any involvement that h or any other Omega 7 members may have with these bombings.

            The Bosch deportation issue cannot account for all of the bombings as it (the issue) did not become a factor until after seven bombings had occurred.  The bombings initially may have been influenced by the paroling of Omega 7 members, such as Ramon Sanchez.  The attacks may have been committed to show that the militant anti-Castro movement had not been destroyed despite the Omega 7 arrests and Arocena's continued imprisonment.

            If all of the bombings are the responsibility of one group, the Bosch issue may have been seized upon as a means to expand the group's activist base by attracting militant Bosch supporters.  If more than one group is responsible for the attack, the second group may have been influenced by the seven successful bombings within a year.  It may also be possible that some of the bombings are being committed by pro-Castro forces as a means of bringing adverse publicity to and law enforcement efforts against anti-Castro factions.

          What has become apparent is that the bombings will not likely end until there no longer exists a reason for them to continue.  Arrests may cause the bombings to cease temporarily, but it will not cause them to stop entirely.  The history of the militant anti- Castro movement has proven this.  The issue behind the attacks is so emotional a topic that it remains largely unchanged even after 30 years.  And there is no reason to suspect that it will cease to be an issue as long as the status quo remains.  It therefore behooves law enforcement to continue efforts to apprehend those responsible for the attacks, but at the same time, not lose sight of the fact that eventually bombers will return as long as Castro is in power or Cuba remains communist.

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