February 29, 1996 in Nation/World

Cuban: U.S. Knew Planes Would Be Shot Down ‘The Fbi Is Calling Roque What He Truly Is - A Liar’

Knight-Ridder
 

Juan Pablo Roque, Cuban double agent or Cuban-American double defector, was paid $6,722.40 by the FBI to secretly funnel information about the humanitarian group Brothers to the Rescue, the FBI said on Wednesday.

But the agency denied Roque’s assertions - broadcast around the world Wednesday - that it knew at least three days before Saturday’s attack that Cuban MiGs would destroy Brothers planes flown near Cuban waters.

“The fact is that if we had known that two or three planes were going to fly over Cuba, we would have tried to stop them,” said Paul Philip, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Miami office.

“The FBI is calling Roque what he truly is - a liar.”

Philip said the FBI’s last contact with Roque came last week. Roque began serving the agency in 1993. Philip said the FBI had noble motives for paying Roque to deceive Brothers.

“This information was used to prevent citizens of the United States from embarking on what is clearly a dangerous mission,” Philip said, referring to flights near Cuban waters.

Four Brothers fliers were killed Saturday when Cuban MiGs destroyed two single-engine Cessnas in what U.S. officials said was international airspace.

During the interview on the Cable News Network, Roque said he was not a Cuban spy. He said he grew weary of “living in the belly of the beast,” meaning South Florida’s Cuban-American community. He said Brothers “wanted martyrs” and “got them.”

During the interview from Havana, Roque said the FBI knew in advance that the planes would be attacked.

“FBI agent Oscar Montoto tells me on Feb. 21, ‘Don’t go on that mission because they are gonna knock you out of the sky,”’ Roque told CNN reporter Lucia Newman. “…The U.S. government knew they were going to shoot them down.”

Nonsense, said the FBI.

“There was no mention of any Cuban plans to shoot down Brothers to the Rescue aircraft or any other aircraft during this last weekend or at any other time,” Philip said. “Moreover, there was no mention of any flight plans for the Brothers to the Rescue this last weekend.”

The agency does have an agent in Miami named Oscar Montoto. Philip defended Montoto and the rest of his staff.

“My troops did nothing wrong,” Philip said. “I am very proud of them.”

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