Suspects In Murder Of Environmental Activist Trained At Controversial U.S. Facility

Two military officers charged in the assassination of award-winning environmental activist Berta Cáceres attended the School of the Americas, an infamous U.S. institute that provides counterinsurgency training. A new investigation from the Guardian says her murder had all the markings of a “well-planned operation designed by military intelligence.”
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    HONDURAS — The Murder of environmental activists has reached unprecedented levels throughout Latin America – and nowhere is this more pronounced than in the Central American nation of Honduras. Since Honduras’ government was overthrown in 2009 in a coup backed by the Clinton-led State Department, the industry-friendly government that came to power is cracking down local activism by any means necessary.

    Over 120 Honduran activists have been killed since 2010, making the small nation the world’s deadliest place to protect the environment. Berta Cáceres, one of the slain activists, was the winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. However, her international prestige and recognition did not prevent her from being gunned down in her own home last year.

    While NGOs and analysts have largely pointed at the Honduran government and its political elite as having played a role in Cáceres’ death, a new investigation published by the Guardian has found that the nation’s U.S. trained special forces have been directly linked to her brutal murder. Citing leaked court documents, the investigation found that Cáceres’ assassination was an extrajudicial killing planned by military intelligence specialists.

    Eight men have been arrested in connection with Cáceres’ death, including one active-duty and two retired military officers. Two of them – Maj. Mariano Díaz and Lt. Douglas Giovanny Bustillo – were trained at the infamous School of the Americas.

    The School of the Americas (SOA) is a military training school for Latin American soldiers located at Fort Benning, Georgia. Initially founded in 1946 in Panama, the school soon grew into what former Panamanian President Jorge Illueca called the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.”

    Since its establishment, the SOA has trained more than 64,000 Latino soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, psychological warfare, interrogation tactics and torture techniques. The school was expelled from Panama in 1984 and relocated to Georgia. In 2001, it underwent a “cosmetic” name change and is now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).

    A guest instructor debriefs students from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School after a field training exercise. (U.S. Navy photo)

    A guest instructor debriefs Latin American students from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly known as the School of the Americas) after a field training exercise. (U.S. Navy photo)

    Though the U.S. military insists that SOA/WHINSEC is dedicated to preserving human rights, the training manuals used at the facility tell a different story. In 1996, bowing to public pressure, the Pentagon reluctantly released training manuals that had been used at SOA. The manuals expressly advocated torture, extortion, blackmail, and the targeting of civilian populations.

    The numerous crimes committed by SOA and WHINSEC graduates throughout Latin America are also well-documented. In Colombia alone, U.S. assistance was considered a factor in a total of 5,763 extrajudicial killings that took place in the nation from 2000 to 2010.

    The decades-old saga of SOA alumni returning to their homelands to attack and suppress their own people is playing out again in Honduras. Most of the eight people detained in connection to Cáceres’ murder have ties to either the Honduran military or Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) – the company behind the Agua Zarca dam, which Cáceres opposed at the time of her death.

    DESA itself has extensive military and government links. Its president, Roberto David Castillo Mejía, is a former military intelligence officer, while its secretary onced served as justice minister. Bustillo, one of the men trained at SOA and now suspected of murdering Cáceres, was DESA’s head of security from 2013 to 2015.

    All of these factors, when considered together, strongly suggest that someone at DESA may very well have ordered Cáceres’ execution.

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    • James Wherry

      Here’s what Crapatio doesn’t want you to know about his Iranian buddies.

      “Iran Builds New Terror Centers As US Stalls On Terrorist Designation”
      By Capital Flows, May 23, 2017

      Wes Martin, Colonel (Retired) Wes Martin served as the first senior antiterrorism officer for all Coalition Forces in Iraq.

      It is heartening that the Trump Administration is considering officially designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” (FTO). For several years, a faction of the IRGC, the Qods Force, has held this title. That its parent organization has eluded designation by the U.S. State Department defies logic, especially considering the Government of Iran has long since been recognized by the U.S. as the number one nation-state sponsor of terrorism. It is high time to reflect this reality in policy; with every day that the U.S. stalls, a sophisticated training corps run by the IRGC churns out a new batch of elite fighters aimed at destabilizing the region and sowing terror worldwide.

      This past month, the leading Iranian opposition group, MeK, exposed fourteen terrorist training camps being run in Iran by the IRGC. Compared to the ad-hoc Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) training programs of the 1960s and 70s, these state-of-the-art IRGC training camps could be hailed as the “Ivy Leagues of terrorist education.”

      Supporting this objective, the IRGC shows signs of ramping up full-spectrum terrorist training. The curriculum includes religious indoctrination, bomb making and emplacement, suicide bombing, assassination, kidnapping, fundraising, black market opportunities, basic structure-engineering, avoiding detection from law enforcement, sleeper cell operations and everything else possible to destroy western civilization. The IRGC is already benefiting from fifteen years of battle-damage assessments of attacks on and by American forces in Iraq. Furthermore, the Iraqi army has passed on to the IRGC all the training it received from the American military.

      Unlike typical academia, graduates of the IRGC School of Terrorism will not walk down the aisle, accept their diplomas, and go out on their own into the world to find employment. Their permanent employer will be the government of Iran. Whether they are sent to combat to further enhance their skills or be placed into sleeper status until activation at a later date, only death will release them from their contractual obligations.

      Just as the PLO trained terrorist operatives from other nations, such is the function of these IRGC operations. The ultimate battlegrounds in the War on Terrorism will be Western Europe and North America. Avenues of approach have already been embedded through porous borders and covert extremist plots. Attacks will become more complex, more deadly, and will involve multiple cells attacking several targets at the same time.

      As the senior antiterrorism officer for all coalition forces in Iraq, I witnessed the advanced technology the Qods Force and the IRGC was providing to our Shia and Sunni adversaries. Because Iran totally subscribes to the concept of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” we were on the receiving end of research and development coming out of Iran’s weapons laboratories.

      In light of this overwhelming threat, many wonder why the State Department continues to stall on an official terrorist designation for the IRGC. Unfortunately, the Department’s track record shows that its FTO list has become more as a political tool than an accurate portrayal of threats to the United States and its citizens. Case and point is the on-going willful failure to assign terrorist status to Iraqi rebel cleric Moqtada Sadr’s Mahdi
      Army despite the overwhelming evidence that his organization killed hundreds of American service members in Iraq and pledges to kill more.

      State Department finally recognized that Iran was advancing its nuclear weapons development program when Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), the primary resistance organization to Tehran’s religious fundamentalists, exposed the covert operation to the world. Instead of condemning the regime, State Department’s solution was to negotiate. For a promise from Iran to cease the nuclear development operations, the Obama Administration agreed to eases sanctions and release $150-billion in frozen assets.

      Lifting of the sanctions was a political victory for Iran. Pressure from the Iranian population was reduced and Tehran proved its ability to out-negotiate Washington. The $150-billion windfall has been quickly put to use. Iran has been able to provide more funding and weapons to the civil wars in Syria and Yemen. The nuclear weapons research has not stopped in Iran any more than it stopped in North Korea following its nuclear weapons negotiations with the Clinton Administration.

      Terrorist organizations determine when and where they will attack. They only have to be successful part of the time. As subjects of the attacks, we must continuously keep our defenses up. As proven by previous administration’s failure to properly address the rise of ISIS, denying the intensity of a problem allows it to grow. It is time for President Trump to mandate that the State Department designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard
      Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, and to treat it accordi

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    • tapatio
    • tapatio

      School of the Americas
      (Now: Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation)

      Backyard terrorism

      SOA Watch

      The School Of The Americas Is Still Exporting Death Squads

      School of the Americas Morphs Into US Training Industrial Complex

      Terrorist Training Camp – Fort Benning, Georgia

      CIA and School of The Americas

      As Rumsfeld Calls For Action Against “Schools That Teach Terrorism”
      We Take A Look At the School of the Americas, What Many Critics Call the
      “School of Assassin

    • Guy

      The school of the Americas is more appropriately called “the school of assassins”.

    • Bob Beal

      I just sent this to my U.S. Representative:

      Dear Rep. Hurd:

      Do you see a problem here?


      “Over 120 Honduran activists have been killed since 2010, making the small nation the world’s deadliest place* to protect the environment. ..

      “…Cáceres’ assassination was an extrajudicial killing planned by military intelligence specialists.

      “Two of them…were trained at the infamous School of the Americas…a military training school for Latin American soldiers located at Fort Benning, GA.”


    • tapatio