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Fidel Castro ‘knew of plot to kill John F. Kennedy’

                        

Fidel Castro may have known in advance about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald, a retired CIA officer has claimed.

According to Brian Latell, the agency’s former national intelligence officer for Latin America, a senior aide to the Cuban dictator was ordered to listen for “any little detail, any small detail from Texas” three hours before the president was shot dead on November 22, 1963.

The aide, Florentino Aspillaga, was stationed in a communications building next to Castro’s family home in Havana and spent most of his time listening for CIA radio signals.

But on the day of the assassination he was ordered to drop his usual surveillance of CIA communications, according to Mr Latell. Aspillaga was said to have been told “the leadership wants you to stop your CIA work, all your CIA work”, and to have been given specific instructions to focus only on Texas.

In 1987, Aspillaga became the most valuable defector from Cuba’s DGI intelligence service. He then told the CIA about the events in Cuba on the day of the assassination, but the information was never made public, according to Mr Latell.

Mr Latell, now a senior research associate at the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies, obtained the information from Aspillaga after interviewing him for a new book about Castro’s intelligence operations.

According to the book, Castro’s Secrets: The CIA and Cuba’s Intelligence Machine, Aspillaga told his CIA debriefers: “Castro knew. They knew Kennedy would be killed.”

Mr Latell also writes that Oswald was refused a visa to visit Cuba at the country’s embassy in Mexico, and promised to shoot Kennedy to show he was a true revolutionary. The book says: “Fidel knew of Oswald’s intentions and did nothing to deter the act.”

The author told The Miami Herald: “I don’t say Fidel Castro ordered the assassination, I don’t say Oswald was under his control. He might have been, but I don’t argue that, because I was unable to find any evidence for that.

"But did Fidel want Kennedy dead? Yes. He feared Kennedy. And he knew Kennedy was gunning for him. In Fidel’s mind, he was probably acting in self-defence. Everything I write is backed up by documents and on-the-record sources."

The book also claims that five months after the assassination, Castro admitted that Oswald had threatened to kill Kennedy during his visit to the Cuban embassy in Mexico. Castro was said to have made the admission in a conversation with an FBI spy, Jack Childs.

Childs reported to his FBI handlers that Castro had described how Oswald “stormed into the embassy, demanded the visa, and when it was refused to him headed out saying ‘I’m going to kill Kennedy for this!’”

Another defector from Cuban intelligence, Rodriguez Ladera, said the Cuban embassy in Mexico was a centre for spying operations against the US and anything that happened there was reported to Castro. He said: “It caused much comment concerning the fact that Oswald had been in the Cuban embassy,”

CIA wiretaps also revealed that Cuban intelligence already had detailed knowledge of Oswald’s background in the hours immediately after the Kennedy shooting, the book said

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