In a long speech on Monday evening, Maduro said a continuing “terrorist attack” on Venezuela that caused him to send 25,000 reservists to the coast. He showed pictures that appeared to show the two arrested Americans in a lineup, one of which was forced by a kidnapper to physically bow his head.
US officials and the mainstream Venezuelan opposition led by Juan Guaidó have no connection to the operation, which was said to involve several dozen men, most of whom were defectors of the Venezuelan military who had lived hand to mouth in Colombia camps. emphatically disputed. Former Venezuelan National Guard officer Javier Nieto Quintero and former U.S. Army Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, head of a Florida-based company that provides paid strategic security services, released a video on Sunday that marked the start of Operation Gideon “Announced and Venezuelan soldiers were asked to join them.
Goudreau confirmed in an interview with the Washington Post that two Americans with a force of approximately 60 men and six Venezuelans were captured on Monday. He identified the Americans as Aaron Barry and Luke Denman. One of the leaders of the operation, former captain Antonio Sequea, was also captured.
The Americans, Goudreau said, were former Special Forces members he had known for years and who had joined the operation as “overseers”
Goudreau, who released the operation on Sunday, said he provided false information to try to protect the workers who were still at risk. He said on Sunday that his armed forces had already come to Venezuela by land and water.
But on Monday, he said that Barry and Denman were in a boat off Venezuela’s Caribbean coast on Sunday when Maduro’s government intercepted another ship of the operation. He confirmed the Maduro government’s allegation on Sunday that eight people had been killed and two captured by Venezuelan forces who had apparently been warned of their arrival.
Goudreau said the Americans spent six nights at sea with six former Venezuelan military personnel. They ran out of gas and Goudreau tried to secure a ship from Aruba to “extract” them, he said. He said the last time he spoke to the crew was around midday on Monday before he learned of their capture.
The US government “should get involved and try to get these people back,” said Goudreau. “You are American. They are ex-green berets. Come on.”
US officials who have charged Maduro with terrorism offered a $ 15 million premium for information that led to his arrest or conviction, and imposed severe sanctions on his government. They did not comment on the alleged arrests. US officials have distanced themselves from the operation on Sunday, questioning both its accuracy and legality.
The Colombian authorities and the mainstream opposition led by Guaidó – the president of the National Assembly, recognized by the US and more than 50 other nations as Venezuela’s legitimate leader – have said that the operation has been infiltrated by Maduro loyalists. Maduro’s senior officials spoke about the planned operation for weeks before it started on Sunday.
“I don’t think everyone involved worked for the dictatorship,” said a senior opposition official who spoke anonymously on internal issues. “I think most of them tried to do something for the right reasons, but at an important level, it leaked out.”
Maduro suggested this on Monday.
“We knew everything,” he said. “What they ate, what they did not eat. What they drank. Who funded them? We know that the US government considers this to be [U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration] Business.”
The DEA denied any involvement in the operation on Monday.
The senior opposition official said he had “high security” that the two Americans had actually been captured. Guaidó issued a statement Monday demanding that Maduro “respect” the human rights of people “captured in the past few hours”. He did not specifically mention the arrest of Americans.
Goudreau was stationed in Iraq with Berry and Denman in 2010, an active soldier who served with all three in the 10th Special Forces Group but was not stationed with them. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
While the 10th group is headquartered in Colorado, the men in their selective company served Charlie within the 1st battalion based in Germany, the soldier said. The company is responsible for direct counter-terrorism measures across Europe, but has deployed many times in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A woman who said she was a cousin of Berry said she hadn’t heard of his capture. A voice message left for Denman’s specified number was not returned. Goudreaus and Berry’s apparent involvement in the failed operation didn’t shock many Green Berets they knew, the soldier said, but it was surprising that Denman, a casual guy, was participating.
The biggest surprise in the Green Beret community, the soldier said, was that everyone could be so confident in the mission.
Goudreau “had it clear in his head that” Yes, I can do it, “said the soldier.
Maduro offered a popular report on the capture and claimed that the patriotic fisherman helped in the operation against the “terrorists”. Maduro called Goudreau a “liar” and called on the US government to silence: “The US government still hasn’t said a word about the terrorist attack.”
A person familiar with the events provided the post with photos that were said to have been taken by Maduro’s forces and showed one of the captured Americans shirtless and lying on the sidewalk, arms tied behind his back.
Diosdado Cabello, a senior government official from Maduro, tweeted a video that allegedly shows one of the Venezuelan men arrested in Chuao on the Caribbean coast on Monday. The son, identified as Adolfo Baduel, the son of a detained military officer, replies to a uniformed interrogator in the back of a van. His hands are tied behind his back.
“They say they work with advisers to the President of the United States,” said Baudel.
“Who is the President of the United States?” the interrogator asks.
“Donald Trump,” replies Baduel.
Faiola reported from Miami. Horton reported from Washington.