Colombian Intelligence Files Show DAS Trained Paramilitaries

News from Colombia | on: Tuesday, 18 October 2011

It is well known that the DAS intelligence service passed information on trade unionists and human rights activists to paramilitaries, and that the DAS was also heavily involved in spying upon political opponents of the Uribe regime. However, new documents obtained by the Colombian weekly, Semana, show “a pattern of behaviour linked to state and organised crime” that illustrates the penetration of this institution by corruption and paramilitarism. According to Semana, the newspaper obtained a DAS database of thousands of entries dating from between 2005-2010. The documents include details of secret missions, mission reports, information on legal and illegal intelligence activities, files detailing counter-intelligence carried out on the investigations into DAS activities and the results of internal lie detector tests. The newspaper then took the most interesting of these and corroborated them with sources. Those that could not be corroborated will not be published.

The most sensational of the revelations is that the DAS was involved in training paramilitary groups in explosives, the use of artillery and on ‘security’ in exchange for payment by paramilitary bosses. In another case DAS agents were involved in the 2005 car-bombing of then-Senator German Vargas Lleras. DAS agents provided the explosives and one of his DAS bodyguards was also involved. The attack was blamed on the FARC guerrillas and the investigation filed as ‘resolved.’

DAS agents were also heavily involved with paramilitaries, narcotraffickers and emerald dealers in another part of the country. According to Semana “the close relationship between leaders and agents of the DAS with members of this alliance of paras [paramilitaries], narcos and emerald dealers” is highly significant. One DAS agent provided security to narcotraffickers in the town of Villavicencio. Others took payment in emeralds which they then sold.

According to Semana some of the agents involved in these activities were even rewarded by the DAS. One agent who had been involved in training paramilitaries was later sent on a mission to train security personnel in an unidentified Central American country paid for by a European embassy.

The DAS was originally established under the dictatorship of Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, when it was known as the SIC (Colombian Intelligence Service), and charged with hunting down communists and combating subversion. It was renamed DAS in 1960, but its activities remained much the same and it remained under direct Presidential control. Although President Santos has said that he will disband the DAS the question remains what will happen to the agents themselves. Many are set to be integrated into other state institutions, such as the Procurator General’s Office, others will no doubt find their way into the new intelligence service. Even if it is assumed that the disbanding of the DAS successfully deals with the issue of paramilitarism and corruption, given DAS links to the military and police, and evidence of the relationship between them and paramilitaries, the surfacing of this evidence must raise questions over the extent of paramilitary and criminal connections within the military as a whole.

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