Humberto Fontova

"I'm proud of the path of Osama bin Laden,” gushed Ilich Ramírez Sánchez from a French prison in 2002. Ramirez was also known during the 1970’s as "Carlos the Jackal," and “The World's Most Wanted Terrorist." In 1967 Ramirez-Sanchez was an eager recruit into Cuba's "guerrilla" (terror) training camps started by Che Guevara in 1959. "Bin Laden has followed a trail I myself blazed,” he continued during an interview with the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat. “I followed news of the September 11 attacks on the United States non-stop from the beginning. I can't describe that wonderful feeling of relief!"

“We will bring the war to the imperialist enemies’ very home,” raved Carlos the Jackal’s idol and spiritual mentor (Che Guevara) in his Message to the Tri-Continental Conference in 1966, “to his places of work and recreation. The imperialist enemy must feel like a hunted animal wherever he moves. Thus we’ll destroy him! These hyenas are fit only for extermination. We must keep our hatred (against the U.S.) alive and fan it to paroxysm!”

Fortunately, on Nov. 17 1962, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI foiled the “war” Castro and Che had planned for us “hyenas,” in some of our favorite “places of recreation.” On Saturday morning, November 17th, 1962, FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. took on "all the trappings of a military command post," according to historian William Breuer.

As well it might. The night before an intelligence puzzle had finally come together. The resulting picture staggered the FBI men. And these had served at their posts during WWII and the height of the Cold War. They'd seen plenty. Now they had mere days to foil a crime against their nation to rival Hideki Tojo's, including the Bataan Death March.

The agents and officers were haggard and red-eyed --but seriously wired. Like hawks on a perch they'd been watching the plot unfold, sweating bullets the whole time. It was nearing time to swoop down on Fidel Castro and Che Guevara’s agents, busy with a terror plot that would have made Bin Laden drool decades later.

Alan Belmont was second to J Edgar Hoover at the time. Raymond Wannall headed the Bureau's Intelligence Division. That nerve-jangling morning both were in Belmont's office just down the hall from Hoover’s. Both were burning up the telephone lines to their agents in New York. On one phone they had Special Agent John Malone who ran the New York field office. On other lines they talked with several carloads of FBI agents slinking around Manhattan. These were keeping a touch-and-go, but more or less constant, surveillance on the ringleaders of the Cuban terror plot.


Humberto Fontova

Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.