Overview: Cuba was designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982 because of its long history of providing advice, safe haven, communications, training, and financial support to guerrilla groups and individual terrorists. This designation was rescinded in 2015. Cuba maintains close and collaborative ties with designated state sponsors of terror such as Iran and North Korea. The Cuban regime continues to host ELN leaders associated with now-defunct peace talks to reside in Cuba, despite Colombia’s repeated requests for their extradition. Cuba also continues to harbor multiple fugitives who committed or supported acts of terrorism in the United States. The U.S. Department of State certified Cuba as “not cooperating fully” with U.S. counterterrorism efforts for 2019, the first such certification of Cuba since 2015.
2019 Terrorist Incidents: There were no terrorist attacks in Cuba in 2019.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Citing peace negotiation protocols, Cuba refused Colombia’s request to extradite 10 ELN leaders living in Havana after that group claimed responsibility for the January 2019 bombing of a Bogota police academy that killed 22 people and injured 87 others. On October 11, Colombia filed extradition requests for ELN leaders Victor Orlando Cubides (aka “Pablo Tejada”) and Isreal Ramirez Pineda (aka “Pablo Beltran”) with the Cuban government, which has pointedly not responded. Though Cuba’s government denies allowing ELN members to plan terrorist attacks from its territory, fugitive ELN terrorists continue to live in Havana, shielded by the Cuban regime, while ELN members continue to attack, kidnap, and murder in Colombia.
In addition to ELN terrorists, there was credible reporting that FARC dissidents who abandoned the peace process in Colombia traveled to Havana to seek the regime’s support. On July 28 during the closing remarks of the Sao Paolo Forum in Caracas, Nicolas Maduro stated that Iván Márquez and Jesús Santrich – former FARC leaders who fled Colombia after abandoning the peace process and announced a return to terrorist activities – were both welcome in Venezuela. Cuba is a key supporter of Maduro’s narco-regime and is an active participant in maintaining Maduro’s authority.
Cuba also harbors several U.S. fugitives from justice wanted on charges of political violence, many of whom have resided in Cuba for decades. For example, the Cuban regime has refused to return Joanne Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur, a fugitive on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List, who was convicted of executing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster. Cuba also has refused to return William “Guillermo” Morales, a fugitive bomb maker for the Armed Forces for National Liberation (FALN), who is wanted by the FBI and escaped detention after being convicted of charges related to domestic terrorism; Ishmael LaBeet, aka Ishmael Muslim Ali, who received eight life sentences after being convicted of killing eight people in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1972 and hijacking a plane to flee to Cuba in 1984; Charles Lee Hill, who has been charged with killing New Mexico state policeman Robert Rosenbloom in 1971; and Ambrose Henry Montfort, who used a bomb threat to hijack a passenger aircraft and fly to Cuba in 1983. Cuba is also believed to host or have hosted U.S. fugitive terrorists Catherine Marie Kerkow and Elizabeth Anna Duke. The Cuban government provides housing, food ration books, and medical care for all of the fugitives residing there.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Cuba is a member of the GAFILAT. Its FIU, the Dirección General de Investigación de Operaciones Financieras, is a member of the Egmont Group. There were no significant updates in 2019.
Countering Violent Extremism: Cuba conducted no CVE efforts in 2019.
International and Regional Cooperation: Cuba is an inactive member of the OAS and is not a member of NATO or the OSCE.