“Already facing allegations that Muslim extremists have obtained Venezuelan identity documents, President Hugo ChÃ¡vez has put the country’s passport agency in the hands of two radicals — one a supporter of Saddam Hussein.” So says the Miami Herald. (Thanks to rru.)
“Hugo Cabezas and Tareck el Aissami were appointed last month as director and deputy director of the Identification and Immigration Directorate, in charge of border controls and issuing passports and national ID cards. The agency also works with electoral authorities on voter registration. . . .
“Allegations that ChÃ¡vez’s leftist government issued ID documents to Islamic radicals surfaced most recently in the newsweekly U.S. News and World Report. ‘Venezuela is providing support — including identity documents — that could prove useful to radical Islamic groups,’ the magazine reported last month, quoting senior U.S. military and intelligence officials.
“ChÃ¡vez has strongly denied previous opposition allegations of links to Islamic radicals and leftist guerrillas from neighboring Colombia. Following the U.S. magazine’s report, he accused the U.S. ‘extreme right’ of trying to justify his ouster by ‘anything: an assassination, a coup d’etat, an invasion.’ . . .
“ChÃ¡vez was the only head of state to visit Hussein in recent years — in 2000. He bitterly opposed the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and tried to have a postwar Iraqi delegation banned from OPEC meetings. . . .
“Born in Venezuela of Syrian parents, El Aissami is the son of the president of the Venezuelan branch of Hussein’s once-ruling Baath Party, and nephew of Shibli Al Aissami, a top-ranking Baath Party official in Baghdad whose whereabouts are unknown.
“Tareck El Aissami’s father, Carlos, defended him in an interview with The Herald as an outstanding student and said he was not a member of the Baath Party.
“In an article the father wrote after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and showed to The Herald, he called President Bush ‘genocidal, mentally deranged, a liar and a racist,’ and al Qaeda’s leader ‘the great Mujahedeen, Sheik Osama bin Laden.'”