A man stepped forward as an organizer of the attack, saying that it was perpetrated by a group of deserters from the Venezuelan army and others. In an exclusive interview with CNN, he recounted how they prepared for the attack and provided the video of the mobile phones of their drones, explosives and practice flights in the agricultural campaigns of Colombia.
"We have tried every peaceful and democratic way to end this tyranny of democracy," he told CNN on condition of anonymity, referring to Maduro's regime. "We have friends who are in custody, tortured. This was a difficult decision."
He also acknowledged that the attack could have killed innocent civilians along with their target. "It was the risk we had to take," he said. "We care about this as the Venezuelan people are always the ones who feel the consequences."
The self-proclaimed interim president of Venezuela, his opposition leader Juan Guaido, told CNN that he disapproved of the attack.
"Those options are not good," he said. He added that he suspected the attack had been organized. "I think it was something internal, done by the government, that ends up making them look like victims."
National security adviser John Bolton said the morning after the attack that it could have been falsified to provide the Maduro government with a "pretext", perhaps for a crackdown. However, since then, US officials have informed the intelligence according to CNN that they believe it was a real attack gone wrong.
Chaos in Caracas
In the August 201
While Maduro was addressing a military parade on Avenida Bolivar, one of the capital's main arteries, the sound of an explosion suddenly dispersed civilians and soldiers alike. State cameras and social media at the event have captured fragmented images of mass confusion – smoke rising above the city, a formation of scattering soldiers, bodyguards jumping to protect the president.
Only later would the story have been put together: two small drones flying over the event they had exploded. Neither was close enough to inflict lethal damage, although seven members of the Venezuelan National Guard were injured. A unharmed Maduro later said he thought the explosions were artifice fires.
Later, dozens of people were arrested while Venezuelan officials launched an investigation to see who had orchestrated the apparent attack. Some have been tortured, activists say, while others on the list of government suspects remain at large. Maduro also accused extreme right-wing activists and the Colombian government, which denied any responsibility.
The organizer of the attack told CNN that Colombia was not involved. He said the drone attack was orchestrated by a group of deserters from the Venezuelan army, with the goal of assassinating Maduro.
The attacker claimed to have met several US officials three times after the attack. "Later, they organized three meetings that I guess was to gather information to study the case, but it did not go further," he said.
"They wanted to get information and then we asked for things in return. They took notes on this, and we asked if they would be able to help, then they simply left with their notes and never appeared again."
A spokesman for the US State Department refused to comment on the alleged meetings, but said: "Our policy is to support a peaceful transition in Venezuela." CNN has not found evidence that the meetings took place.
The plan was thwarted by the guards who caused the drone explosion prematurely, says the attacker. The cell phone signal blockers that protect the president suddenly came back, causing the explosions.
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