REPORT: Obama Administration prepared to release convicted terrorists–but only after the election

Media outlets in Latin America are reporting that the United States is likely to release two convicted Colombian terrorists, but only after the November 6th Presidential Election.

Colombian newspaper El Espectador (The Spectator) reported on October 19 that the United States and Colombia are in “advanced” talks about releasing Ricardo Palmera and Nayibe Rojas Cabrera to Colombia where they would likely be  freed.  To our knowledge, no U.S. media outlet has reported on any of this as of yet.

Ricardo Palmera, who is best known by his nomme de guerre “Simón Trinidad” is a high-ranking rebel leader and former finance director of the leftist Colombian insurgent terrorist organization FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forced of Colombia), which is responsible for thousands of kidnappings and murders in Colombia, including businessmen, politicians, women, children, and even a female presidential candidate.

On February 13, 2003 the FARC extended its terrorist activities to America when its guerrillas shot down an unarmed single-engine plane carrying American Vietnam Veteran and Bronze Star recipient Thomas Janis, three other Americans, and a Colombian official over a remote, FARC-controlled region of Colombia. Janis was conducting anti-narcotic intelligence work at the time and despite surviving the crash, he and the Colombian were cowardly shot execution-style by FARC guerrillas. The three other Americans aboard the plane were held hostage for five years in gruesome conditions under orders by Trinidad.

Trinidad was eventually caught and extradited to the United States where he was tried and convicted for his role in conspiring to kidnap and hold the three Americans as hostages. During the trial, witnesses testified how he ordered the kidnapping of any American visiting Colombia. A former FARC guerrilla member who was called in as a witness in the trial described it the following way:

The instructions given to us [by Simón Trinidad] is that any gringo tourist, official, or whatever, should be kidnapped. None could be allowed to escape.

He is currently serving a 60-year sentence at the Florence ADX US Penitentiary, which houses federal inmates who are deemed the most dangerous and in need of the tightest control.

Despite a terrorist past that has cost the lives of American citizens and countless Colombians, Trinidad and another high-ranking FARC terrorist and convicted drug trafficker Nayibe Rojas Cabrera are currently being seriously considered for release by the Obama Administration presumably at the urging of the Colombian government, which is naively trying to arrive at a peace agreement with the terrorist group.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has largely abandoned his predecessor Alvaro Uribe’s hard-line (and effective) policy of hunting down the FARC, and has instead opted for sitting and negotiating with the terrorist group (read: appeasing).

The FARC has since seized the opportunity to demand Simón Trinidad’s release and participation in the negotiations as a condition to make any headway. In fact, earlier this month, the FARC officially designated the terrorist Trinidad as one of the group’s chief negotiators with the Colombian government for “peace talks” that were set to begin in Oslo a few days ago.

As such, it appears President Santos has been applying pressure on Washington to release the terrorist Trinidad to appease the FARC in hopes of making progress during their so-called “peace talks,” which in the past only served to embolden the terrorist group.

According to the El Espectador article:

[Trinidad’s] return would occur in the second half of November and the idea, El Espectador has learned, is that if the peace talks with the FARC make progress and achieve concrete agreements toward demobilization, Simón Trinidad would  become the first [high-ranking FARC official] to be allowed to reinsert himself in [Colombia’s] political process…

Essentially, the idea is that the Colombian government would grant the terrorist Trinidad a reprieve of his past crimes to return to Colombia without penalty, become active in politics and perhaps even run for office.

This is terrorist appeasement at its worst. But what is more shocking is that the Obama Administration would participate in this appeasement by even so much as being open to the possibility of releasing these two terrorists–but only after the election!  Specifically, El Espectador reports:

Indeed, Barack Obama’s administration has made it clear that it will not make a decision until after the presidential elections in his country, scheduled for November 6. However, a recent statement by Secretary of State for Latin America, Roberta Jacobson, sheds some light on the matter: “It would have to be a topic of discussion with the Government of Colombia as it develops,” she told the newspaper El Tiempo without denying nor confirming whether Washington will allow the repatriation of Trinidad.

A separate newspaper from Ecaudor El Comercioadds that Jacobson said that no U.S. official will either confirm or comment on any negotiations taking place with the Colombian government for now.

Apparently Russia isn’t America’s only adversary that stands to benefit from Barack Obama’s increased flexibility after the election.

Here are .pdf files of the original El Espectador and El Mercado articles in Spanish.

**UPDATE 10/28/2012**

The post above was published on the morning of October 24th.  Several hours after it made the rounds, the Colombian newspaper Terra reported the following:

United States Ambassador [to Colombia] in Bogotá Michael McKinley has denied that the Administration of Juán Manuel Santos has requested the transfer of the FARC guerrilla Ricardo Palmera, alias Simón Trinidad so that he may participate in the peace talks in Havana.

However, this statement by the US Ambassador to Colombia somewhat contradicts a previous statement given by US Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America Roberta Jacobson as reported by Colombia’s El Tiempo.

The El Tiempo article published on October 18 reports that she refused to confirm or deny that the Colombian government had requested the transfer of the FARC terrorist, but instead says that, “…our talks are in the very preliminary stages.”

So, if the Colombian government hasn’t formally requested terrorist Simon Trinidad’s transfer, then what are the nature of those “preliminary talks?” And why did she not want to initially confirm or deny that a request for his transfer had been made by the Colombian government?

Despite the denials, there is reason to believe that the administration of Colombian President Santos has in some way or another requested the transfer (read: release) of the FARC terrorist Simon Trinidad, or at least brushed the topic with US officials.

Santos’ approval among Colombians has slipped considerably since being elected due in large measure to the country’s deteriorating security situation.  However, since announcing peace talks with the FARC, his approval has improved.  According to Reuters:

The peace talks helped lift Santos’ approval ratings at a time when he was being slammed by critics, like former boss Uribe, who said security had deteriorated considerably, raising the possibility he would be unable to seek a second term.

However, as I mentioned previously, the FARC have demanded Simon Trindad’s release and participation in the peace talks as a condition for any headway in those negotiations. As such, if Santos hopes to build on his recent spike in approval among Colombians, he needs to end those “peace talks” with the FARC successfully, which largely depends on the release of the terrorist Simon Trinidad.

His administration may not have officially requested that US officials release Trinidad (yet), but based on Santos’ current political circumstances and previous statements by Assistant Secretary of State Jacobson there is reason to believe that at the very least there have been “preliminary talks” on the matter.

Here are .pdf files of the original Terra and El Tiempo articles in Spanish.