Castro and Che’s Foiled (and Forgotten) 9/11

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A little perspective: For their March 2004 Madrid subway blasts, all 10 of them, that killed and maimed almost 2,000 people, al-Qaeda used a grand total of 100 kilos of TNT. Castro and Che’s agents planned to set off five times that explosive power in the three biggest department stores on earth, all packed to suffocation and pulsing with holiday cheer on the year’s biggest shopping day. Macy’s get’s 50,000 shoppers that one day. Thousands of New Yorkers, including women and children—actually, given the date and targets, probably mostly women and children—were to be incinerated and entombed.

At the time, the FBI relied heavily on “HUMINT” (Human Intelligence.) So they’d expertly penetrated the plot. One by one the ringleaders were ambushed. The first and most important  was named Roberto Santiesteban and he was nabbed while walking down Riverside Drive. As the agents closed in, Santiesteban saw them and –took off!  And as he ran, Santiesteban was jamming paper in his mouth and chewing furiously.

But six FBI agents were after him, all fleet of foot themselves. Finally they closed the ring and “triangulated” the suspect. Santiesteban fell, raging and cursing, flailing his arms and jabbing his elbows like a maniac. They grabbed his arm and bent it behind his back just as he was reaching for his pistol.

While this group got their man (and a vigorous workout), another FBI squad had the much easier task of arresting a couple named Jose and Elsa Gomez-Abad  as they left their apartment on West 71st Street. These two gave in without a struggle. The FBI speculated that as many as 30 others might have been in on the plot, but these were the head honchos. Had those detonators gone off, 9/11 might be remembered as the SECOND deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Santiesteban and the Gomezes belonged to the Castro-Cuban Mission to the U.N., and plead “diplomatic immunity.”  Other plotters belonged to the New York Chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, an outfit that became MUCH better known a year later on that very week.

“We greeted each other as old friends!” (Jimmy Carter describing his visit with Fidel Castro last month.)

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  • Chezwick_mac

    Though I was just a toddler when it happened, I've never heard of this event in my life. Seems to me it was an act of war. Wasn't Kennedy under any pressure to retaliate?

    • ajnn

      Perhaps that was the motivation for thre 'bay of pigs' effort.

  • StephenD

    Apparently, back then when I was a grade school kid, America didn't need to be convinced with publicized foiled terror plots to know we have real enemies in this world that would see us destroyed. Only now these enemies understand that they can effect as much damage stealthily and prey on what they see as our weakness; our sense of fair play and respect for all peoples and faiths. Sometimes it seems our biggest enemy…is ourselves.

  • M Dennis

    Actually they were guerrillas, not terrorists. Colombia has used that same tag to divert US funds meant for social and economic development into strictly destroying the FARC. And the US has brought actions like this upon themselves through their ruthless and blind attempts to achieve economic hegemony through the exploitation of the weak. Good on Che and Fidel.

    • ajnn

      'guerillas', 'commandos'; they still do not have the legal or moral right to target women and children with incendiaries and tnt in department stores.

      Have you no shame ?

    • Jerseyman

      My but aren't you the convinced little red doper diaper baby. You must be very sad that it's come down to North Korea and Cuba, and Cuba's red regime won't outlast the castro boys.

      • NSTahl

        Sure it will, after a fashion. Fidel and Raul's kids run family enterprises from (primarily) Italy ans Spain. The Castro Commercial Empire will line on.

    • LindaRivera

      You believe it is good for Che and Fidel to make war on innocent men, women, children and babies.

      If you were a victim or one of your family members were a victim of Che and Castro's terrorist attacks, would you still say it was good of Che and Castro?

    • Andrew Whitehead

      M. Dennis, you are a coward. Why are you here and not in the front lines of the Great Proletariat Army, defending the the fatherland? Kill women and children; you are the worse kind of coward.

  • furian

    Dennis, they were terrorists! Pigs that needed to be put down like any rabid dog in your yard. It is amazing anyone would support Che after his brutal legacy of murder and torture. Or Castro, who has subjugated his own people and kept them poor and broken spirited. You are a feeble minded evil human being that deserves the same fate as they do.

  • Lady_Dr

    Cannot help but wonder if the rot in the Democrat party had already begun. as I sit here wondering why we didn't invade Cuba, kill the Castros and their followers, and put our foot down. But Kennedy, who looks like a real leader compared to what the Dumbocrats now offer – was not very strong or confident. Too bad Nixon didn't become president in 1960 while he was still strong, confident, and conservative instead of the RINO he was to become as president.

    • ajnn

      JFK was a bit of a 'paper tiger'. Good media relations, very bright staff; but, in the end, he was himself not a strong-minded and committed leader of our nation.

  • Ben

    I notice this article makes no reference to the Bay Of Pigs, which was an act of Terrorism against Castro's Cuba. Hmmm, like for like eh?

    • jerseyman

      Ben, it was an act of rebellion by Cubans who weren't content to see their Island paradise become a palm tree gulag. War is confronting your enemy openly, with weapons in hand, uniformed and if I dare say, like a man.

      Terror, is when you murder innocents, in an attempt to gain political advantage by the horror induced in civilians by vicious atrocities.

  • Ben

    'An act of rebellion by Cubans who weren't content to see their Island Paradise become a palm tree gulag'.
    Erm, no it was an act by CiA trained exiles that got paid a lot of money by the United States to go and attack Castro's regime.
    Apart from when the Castro's first came to power, there has been little in the way of atrocities actually. The highest was in the 1960s when they removing those enemies of the state but lets not forget the Americans were doing exactly the same thing against innnocent people like the Rosenburgs. Since the 1960s there has not been any sort of Genocidal act in Cuba apart from those the United States wish to make up because they have no influence there.

    And I'm not even getting into the disgusting assassination attempts by the CiA over the years that would be seen by some people as acts of terrorism.

    • Ghostwriter

      Unfortunately Ben,the facts are different from the story you're peddling. Both Khrushchev's memoirs that were published in the 1970's and the Venona codes that were released in the 1990's prove that the Rosenburgs were guilty as charged. As for Castro,what has happened was that he turned Cuba into one of the most repressive societies on earth. Hundreds have died trying to flee and hundreds more are imprison for speaking out against the regime. Also,I think that more than a few Cubans would have celebrated the death of Fidel Castro if he were killed by the CIA.

  • Ben

    They were guilty of conspiracy against the state, just the same as those that Castro killed were. That doesn't make either party guilty in my eyes (simply a different opinion). If you condemn one, you have to condemn the other.

    And please don't talk about hundreds in prison when the American have Gitmo on the other side of the island, which is such a lovely place.
    To be honest, I don't think you can say that about Cuba at all. They want reform but they don't necessarily want to get rid of the Socialist system.

  • Ben

    Are you seriously censoring comments now?

    Btw, no-one really cares about Cuba and their 'repressive regime' apart from the Americans and thats only because you lost it.

  • Ben

    Actually, I'll leave this year. I can't be bothering arguing with the bias American right-wing.

  • Ben

    here* I'm tired. But respect to you and this mag. Just would rather not read this bias stuff :).

  • Ben

    Also, I seriously doubt the validity of these claims. Especially since the CiA was at this timing planning ways to disgrace the Castro regime through operation Northwinds.

    • myleslman

      Ben you are either watching too many oliver stone movies, or you're a romantic coward in love with terror.

      I agree with Lady Dr., Nixon would have struck back at castro. Had he done so, Cuba wouild be a far better place today. And when fidel takes his place in hell, Cuba will recover from his tyranny, and the world will be a better place.

  • Ben

    Look up Operation Northwoods for those of you uneducated. Go on, I dare you.
    That is the painful hypocrisy of the U.S Governments policy against Castro's Cuba, A perfectly legitmate and internationally recognised government.

  • Ben

    James Bamford summarizes Northwoods as follows:

    'Operation Northwoods, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Bertstare and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war.'

  • Ghostwriter

    Why are you defending Fidel Castro? He is one of the most evil men on earth who sends anyone who opposes him to jail. I'll never understand why there are people like you out there.

  • Ben

    Why do you defend your own government that had plans to kill your own people and blame it on Castro?
    I am not defending him per se, he has done some rather nasty things but some good too, like ALL politians. But the hypocrisy and bias that comes from the U.S States regarding Castro is astounding.

  • Ben

    Possibly. That shouldn't be up to the U.S to decide though. As much as you think domestic policy in Cuba is disgusting, I personally think U.S foreign policy has been disgusting since the Second World War.

    Yeah let's arm Osama Bin Laden against the Russians! That worked well didn't it. :P

  • Ariel

    osama is a criminal Fidel y el Che are heroes of lLatin America.
    osama is just a pure criminal who received his military training from us the USA.
    very different situation!!!!