---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2001 13:48:45 -0800
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Golden State terrorists
Golden State terrorists
Southeast Asia's most wanted are living large in the LA area
by l Berkowitz
What do Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, the Philippines, Iraq, and Garden Grove and
Long Beach, California have in common? They all appear to be harboring
terrorists of one stripe or another. If President Bush is steadfast in his
belief that "if they [countries] fund a terrorist, they're a terrorist. If
they house terrorists, they're terrorists," look out California!
Randy Gould, editor of the e-zine The Oread Daily, facetiously asked in the
November 26 edition, "Will the US bomb California? Can we expect Special
Forces on the ground in Orange County?"
Garden Grove? Long Beach? Home to terrorists? That's right. During the past
year, Time magazine and several other mainstream publications have
identified organizations -- with home offices in the Golden State -- that
are plotting coups, planting bombs in other countries and raising money for
more of these activities. And they're not your usual Cuban exile groups.
Two organizations -- the Long Beach-based Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF),
and the Garden Grove-based Government of Free Vietnam (GFV) -- are finally
drawing some attention from the U.S. government these days.
Cambodia's California connection
In early January, Time-Asia reported that on November 24, 2000, "some 70
rebels armed with assault rifles and rocket launchers -- and wearing
matching Cambodian Freedom Fighters T-shirts -- attacked government
buildings in downtown Phnom Penh." Within an hour, the raiders were crushed
by local authorities "but the fire-fight killed at least four people and
terrified a nation still recovering from civil war."
The Long Beach, California-based Cambodian Freedom Fighters was founded and
is led by Chhun Yasith, a 44-year-old American citizen whose family fled to
the U.S. in 1982. When Yasith isn't organizing the overthrow of the
Cambodian government he is an accountant by trade. Although the attack
failed to ignite the masses, Yasith told Time-Asia that it succeeded in
establishing his group as a force to be reckoned with. "We're definitely
going to try again," he said. "There will be more operations. It won't be
Shortly after the failed attack, Yasith told the LA Weekly why the group
resorted to armed violence against the Cambodian regime. "I did many
nonviolent demonstrations in 1995 and 1996," he said, "but it is not
workable. We will never change the nature of the communist dictatorship with
rallies. Communists are like cows. When you talk to cows, they don't
The Cambodian Freedom Fighters, who claim to have 500 members in the U.S.
and up to 20,000 supporters in Cambodia, have an office in Long Beach,
where, according to the LA Weekly, there are more than 50,000
Cambodian-American residents. According to its web site the group, legally
registered with the Secretary of State of California, aims "to fight against
communist[s] to protect the interests of Cambodian people." The web site
points out that: "CFF has not recognized and will not recognize the current
government who was born out of an election fraud and brutality, [and] gave
immunity to the former Khmer Rouge Leaders who were responsible for the
deaths of two million Cambodians instead of bringing them to justice. We,
our children and later generation, [can] neither afford to stand by nor
allow the dictators to continue their destructions to our homeland. CFF
works and stands . with all classes of the Cambodian National Armies under
one color to free our country from communist dictatorship." (CFF can be
contacted at: CFF USA-CB Office: 2728 E. 10th Street, Long Beach, CA 90804
Tel. (562) 433-9930, Fax (562) 433-7490).
In late June, BBC News reported that a Cambodian court had sentenced three
U.S. citizens -- two in absentia -- to life in prison resulting from the
November 2000 attack. The court also sentenced 27 Cambodians to sentences
ranging from three years to life.
What has been the response by the Cambodian government? Given the climate
generated by the president's war on terrorism, the U.S. government can't
turn its head while the CFF plots more mayhem. Or can it? Prime Minister Hun
Sen's government in Cambodia, has called in the U.S. to extradite Yasith.
"We expect that America will recognize one standard for justice, not two,"
said government spokesman Khieu Kanharith. The U.S. State Department
responded that it "strongly deplores and condemns" the attacks and will seek
to prosecute those involved. BBC News reports that the FBI has been
investigating the group but has not yet issued a report. (For more on the
political background of Yasith and CFF activities, see "Fighters, Leader
Mired in Mystery" at the Bank of Thailand web site.)
Visions of Vietnam
The Government of Free Vietnam (GFV) is another outfit using its offices in
Southern California to raise money to overthrow the government of Vietnam.
According to research by The Oread Daily, the Garden Grove, Ca.-based GFV
"consists of former South Vietnamese soldiers and leaders living in the
U.S., Europe and Southeast Asia. The group has created training camps in the
jungle along the Thai-Laotian border near Vietnam" where it claims to have
trained some 100,000 supporters. It has a budget of about $1 million a year.
Nguyen Huu Chanh is the 51-year-old head of GFV. Chanh immigrated to the
U.S. in 1982 and is, according to the November 27 Time Asia, "Vietnam's
most-wanted terrorist, a globe-trotting rabble-rouser sought by police in
his homeland and in the Philippines, where three of his associates were
recently arrested with bombmaking materials." Over the past three years the
GFV is "suspected in half a dozen attacks on Vietnamese targets in Europe
Time Asia: "Earlier this month, U.S. federal agents arrested Free Vietnam
operative Vo Van Duc, 41, for involvement in a failed June attempt to blow
up the Vietnamese embassy in Bangkok with two fertilizer bombs." Duc was
charged in Los Angeles in mid-November with "conspiring to use a weapon of
mass destruction abroad and he could face life in prison." Chanh claims that
Duc was acting on his own but in August, Chanh "openly bragged to Time of
having planned several past incidents, including one foiled in 1999, when
authorities in southern Vietnam arrested 38 people with explosives and plans
to blow up national monuments."
Responding to the arrest of Duc, Vietnam's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan
Thuy Thanh commented, "the U.S. and all governments should have a consistent
attitude to terrorist activities."
The Oread Daily also reported that GFV's pre-September 11 "raids in the
Philippines resulted in the arrests of several suspected terrorists."
According to authorities in Manila, the Vietnamese exiles and their Japanese
cohort "planned to bomb the Vietnamese Embassy to coincide with Vietnam's
National Day. But far beyond the aborted bombing, the group was reportedly
involved in a bigger plot to wreak chaos in Metro Manila."
Police also seized an "improvised explosive devise with a booster detonating
cord and components..." at a GFV apartment in Manila. GFV claimed it was
their "liaison office" in the Philippines. "It is not a terrorist cell as
suspected by the press. The seizure described by the police [included] bags
of ammonium nitrate, rolls of wires with improvised blasting caps, a 12-volt
battery, relays, cellular phones, etc. . technical material which have been
used solely in research for possible upcoming operations in Vietnam."
According to Time, neither Yasith of Cambodia Freedom Fighters, nor Chanh of
the Government of Free Vietnam are "feeling heat" from the U.S. government.
Time reports that "Yasith spends his nights making calls to Thailand and
Cambodia, marshaling his 'secret army,' confident that U.S. authorities are
winking and looking the other way." Yasith confidently told Time that,
"They've never given me a red light. That means there's a green light."
Whether the U.S. government really has any intentions of trying to stop
these groups remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the governments of Cambodia and
Vietnam will continue to press the Bush Administration to do the right
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