‘Venezuela is a cradle of terrorism,’ member of underground resistance group tells i24NEWS
JHONN ZERPA (Venezuelan Presidency/AFP)
In an exclusive interview with i24NEWS, a member of Venezuela’s underground resistance group "The Flannel Soldiers Movement" or "National Movement of Soldiers in Shirts"claimed that the Venezuelan government has collaborated with members of various terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah, to threaten dissidents.
Speaking to i24NEWS from an undisclosed location, Gregory aka “Capi”, also revealed that the clandestine group receives its funding in part from exiled Venezuelans abroad and affirmed that President Nicolas Maduro and other high ranking government officials are in the group’s cross hairs.
The ‘Flannel Soldiers Movement’ emerged around 2014 with the aim of uniting elements opposed to President Nicolas Maduro’s iron rule. The mysterious group has ties to former law enforcement official Oscar Perez, who led an aerial attack on governmental buildings in Caracas in June 2017 and was killed by Venezuelan security forces a year later.
The group also claimed a drone attack targeting Maduro as he gave a speech at a military parade in Caracas in August 2018 live on national television.
“The brothers in arms who participated in that operation were part of the movement, mainly active and retired soldiers, and reserve personnel who acted under their legitimate faculties to recover democracy in a country run by criminals,” Gregory told i24NEWS of the failed attack.
Gregory claimed, however, that the drone attack had been intended to send a message to the government, and was not an assassination attempt.
“We tried to show they are vulnerable...We are not assassins like them,” he said.
Gregory claimed that the government “hides behind terror groups and paramilitaries” calling Venezuela the new “cradle of terrorism” in Latin America.
Gregory charged that Hezbollah, Spain's Basque separatist group the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), the Colombian guerilla group Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) and “other irregular groups” exist in the country and are used by state officials to intimidate dissidents.
“These so called ‘collectivos’ have explosives training...and have an operations
centered in the lower class districts west of Caracas,” Gregory claimed.
“How many terrorists with Venezuelan diplomatic passports have been arrested in different countries?” Gregory asked rhetorically. “The world knows that Venezuela is a potential danger...because it is currently the cradle of terrorism where they are training terrorists to attack different countries.”
Gregory and the rest of the Flannel Soldiers Movement claim to be working to “recover freedom” in a country languishing under Maduro’s iron rule.
“The system that is oppressing us has many flaws. We have proved that and they are vulnerable. There are many people that are internally collaborating with us which seek to recover freedom,” Gregory told i24NEWS.
He revealed that the movement is largely self-funded, though it does receive partial support from exiled dissidents abroad.
“Much of our work is self-funded. Many of us remain without cars or homes. We’ve sold what little we had in order to dedicate ourselves to the fight because we all want to recover what is ours,” he said.
“The people who have collaborated do so given their own commitment, they are part of the movement,” he adds.
“The biggest power against this tyranny -- which is the pivotal support for this struggle -- is the power of the exiled ones,” Gregory explains.
Gregory concludes with a warning to the Maduro government, which is set to remain in power for another six-year term.
It involves the group’s alleged secret information about the killing of Oscar Perez, one of the underground movement’s leaders who they say was executed by the national army and not in a shootout with government forces as they claim.
“I can tell you we have probes of the El Junquito Massacre which will be revealed before the public,” Gregory tells i24NEWS, referring to the deadly clash and alluding to documents, witness testimony, and photographic material the group claims to possess.
Some of this material is published in this article for the first time.
Damian Pachter is i24NEWS's Spanish show anchor and correspondent. Follow him on Twitter.
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