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Cablegate: Colombian Defense Ministry Sours On Israeli Defense Firm

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #3483/01 3352100
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O R 012059Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1292
INFO RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0272
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 0805
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0003
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

S E C R E T BOGOTA 003483

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/01
TAGS: MARR MCAP MOPS PREL PGOV PTER IS PE PM CO
SUBJECT: COLOMBIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY SOURS ON ISRAELI DEFENSE FIRM

REF: A) BOGOTA 715; B) PANAMA 831

CLASSIFIED BY: William R. Brownfield, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(A),
(B), (D)

SUMMARY

-------

1. (S/NF) General Oscar Naranjo, Director of the Colombian National
Police (CNP), told the Ambassador on November 24 that Defense
Minister Gabriel Silva was souring on the Defense Ministry's
relationship with Israel. Naranjo said that the CNP's relationship
with retired Israeli Major General Yisrael Ziv and his firm Global
CST had been a "disaster." Naranjo said he understood Ziv was
trying to make inroads in Panama and Peru -- and that he had shared
his concerns with authorities in Panama and would do the same with
Peru if asked. He noted that Silva overruled Colombian Armed
Forces Commander General Freddy Padilla's decision to purchase
Israeli UAVs. Government of Colombia (GOC) officials described
their experience with Global CST under the "Strategic Leap" process
as mixed. End Summary.

MOD SOURS ON GLOBAL CST
-----------------------

2. (S/NF) CNP Director Naranjo told the Ambassador on November 24
that Defense Minister Silva was souring on the Defense Ministry's
relationship with Israel. Naranjo said that the CNP's relationship
with retired Israeli Major General Yisrael Ziv and his firm Global
Comprehensive Security Transformation (Global CST) had been a
"disaster." Naranjo said he had provided this negative feedback to
Panamanian authorities upon their request. He indicated that Ziv
was now also trying to sell his services to Peru. If Naranjo is
asked by Peruvian authorities, he will share the same warning with
them.

GOC DECLINES UAV PURCHASES
--------------------------

3. (S/NF) Naranjo told the Ambassador that in a sign of this
growing dissatisfaction, Minister Silva had recently overruled
Armed Forces Commander Padilla's decision to purchase Israeli
unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In late July 2009, Padilla had
commissioned a delegation of Colombian military officers to travel
to Israel to research possible acquisition of an
Israeli-manufactured Hermes-450 UAV system. (Comment: This
represents another sign of what is reported to be a distrustful and
distant relationship between Minister Silva and General Padilla.
End Comment.)

4. (S) GOC officials have expressed security concerns about Global
CST in the past, and found it difficult to work with a private firm
on national security matters as they were prevented from sharing
USG intelligence with them. In February 2008, CNP sources reported

that a Global CST interpreter, Argentine-born Israeli national Shai
Killman, had made copies of classified Colombian Defense Ministry
documents in an unsuccessful attempt to sell them to the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) through contacts in
Ecuador and Argentina. The documents allegedly contained high
value target (HVT) database information. Ziv denied this attempt
and sent Killman back to Israel.

ROLE IN STRATEGIC LEAP
----------------------

5. (S) Colombia's defense cooperation with Israel cooled during the
1980s and 1990s, when some Israeli mercenaries reportedly helped
train paramilitary forces in Colombia. Over the last two years,
Embassy officers visiting the MOD and Colombian military have
observed an increased presence of Israeli advisors. Beginning in
December 2006, Colombia's Ministry of Defense engaged Global CST to
help the GOC conduct a strategic assessment of the internal
conflict (see ref A). General Ziv was a personal acquaintance of
then-Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos.

6. (S/NF) The Global CST assessment focused on defeating the FARC
and other internal terrorist and criminal organizations by 2010,
but also included an evaluation of external threats including
Venezuela and Ecuador. The MOD spearheaded the exercise --
originally named the "Strategic Leap" -- which was approved by
President Uribe in February 2009. The Strategic Leap was
subsequently rebranded as the National Consolidation Plan (PNC).
Colombian officials have described their experiences with Global
CST under the Strategic Leap planning process as mixed. Former
Colombian Vice Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzon told us that
many of Global CST's programs and recommendations -- which carried
a heavy consulting fee -- were already being implemented by the
USG.

COMMENT
-------

7. (S) Over a three year period, Ziv worked his way into the
confidence of former Defense Minister Santos by promising a cheaper
version of USG assistance without our strings attached. We and the
GOC learned that Global CST had no Latin American experience and
that its proposals seem designed more to support Israeli equipment
and services sales than to meet in-country needs. Global CST was
not transparent with us, and tried to insert itself into our
classified discussions with the GOC. Given the GOC's experience
with Global CST, it is no surprise that the Defense Ministry is
pulling back from them and warning neighbors that their deals are
not as good as advertized. End Comment.
BROWNFIELD

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