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Hostages snatched from FARC in daring raid

By See-Dubya  •  July 3, 2008 05:06 AM

FARC’s ace in the hole is their stable of 700 hostages. Oops, make that 685–after an impossibly gutsy helicopter rescue by the Colombian Army freed 15 of their most high-profile prisoners, including the three Americans I mentioned back here.

How do you convince the FARC to get in a helicopter with you and turn over their most valuable hostages? Why, pretend you’re a trustifarian NGO, of course:

It emerged that commandoes had managed to trick the rebels into handing over the hostages.

A government agent managed to infiltrate the rebel group, apparently earning their trust, paving the way for the rescue.

Undercover Colombian commandoes flew to the jungle camp in a civilian helicopter, claiming to be from a fictitious non-government organisation.

They claimed they had orders to fly the hostages by helicopter to a camp to meet with rebel leader Alfonso Cano.

“The helicopters, which in reality were from the army, picked up the hostages in Guaviare and flew them to freedom,” Mr Santos said.

It’s like Clear and Present Danger meets Beverly Hills Cop. They even had the Colombian commandos dress up in Che Guevara T-shirts.

The helicopter was piloted by intelligence officers dressed as leftist sympathizers. Betancourt said the hostages thought they were being picked up by some kind of international humanitarian organization to be taken to the FARC high command.

“Our hearts broke. More captivity. Another transfer,” [Rescued hostage Ingrid] Betancourt said in a dramatic press conference minutes after embracing her mother.

She and the others were handcuffed as they boarded the helicopter, which she described as “humiliating.” Once they were airborne, everything happened so fast Betancourt missed it.

It was then that she saw {FARC prison commandant] Cesar, who had treated her so cruelly for so many years, was naked and blindfolded on the floor.

No word whether there was a banana in his tailpipe.


Seriously, though, this is great news, and it’s one more blow to the rapidly collapsing FARC.

Kudos to President Uribe for staying the course, and avoiding the easy temptation of legitimating the FARC through their negotiations.

Oh, interesting detail from the Telegraph’s report about the FARC, in case you are discussing them with a sympathizing lefty: Those three American hostages were the lucky ones.

The three men were part of a five-man crew of a spy plane that was taking pictures of drugs crops and guerrilla camps in February 2003.

The plane crash-landed in rebel territory and within minutes the Farc were on the scene. The two other crew members, a Colombian and another American, were killed by the Farc as they were too injured for the march into captivity.

Here’s a video of Ingrid Betancourt’s press conference.

Keep hunting the FARC down.

UPDATE: A friend e-mailed to point out one brilliant psy-op advantage of this exercise–now the FARC will suspect every trustafarian in a Che T-shirt as a potential double agent!

{Post by See-Dubya}

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Categories: BBC, colombia, Jamil Hussein