Family Security Mattersby Jim Kouri
The Bush Administration's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Peter Pace, warned members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that members of radical Islamic groups were active in South America recruiting and training terrorists. Yet, the Democrat-controlled Senate ignored Gen. Pace's warning.
Three suspected al-Qaeda associates who were apprehended in West Africa by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents during an international anti-drug operation, were extradited to New York and appeared in federal court in Manhattan earlier this year, according to reports obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police's Terrorism and Narcotics & Dangerous Drugs committees. The operation confirms the suspicions of terrorism experts that al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups are involved in narcotics trafficking to fund their terror operations.
The suspects -- Oumar Issa, Harouna Toure and Idress Abelrahman -- were charged with conspiracy to commit acts of narco-terrorism and conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization after they allegedly agreed to transport as much as 1,000 kilos of cocaine. Allegedly, the drugs were earmarked for western European countries and the United States.
The cocaine interdiction and arrests occurred along the traffickers' favorite route through West Africa to North Africa that serves as a launch point for export to Europe. The suspects were taken into custody after an intense undercover investigation in which informants and agents posed as Colombian narco-terrorists who claimed they shared hatred for the United States with the African suspects.
According to the NACOP report, Colombian drug kingpins use the same transshipment techniques in Africa that they've successfully used in Latin America. The Colombian traffickers utilized al-Qaeda's protection services in order to make certain shipments arrived at their destinations.
DEA officials report that in this case they were able to infiltrate the drug operation during the negotiations phase. The undercover DEA agents and informants indicated they were associated with the Colombia terrorist group FARC and could protect the shipment from West Africa to North Africa and ultimately to Spain.
Issa, Toure and Abelrahman claim to be from Mali, but their nation of origin is yet unknown.
Created in 1964, the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) is structured as a paramilitary organization, with approximately 10,000 armed guerillas organized into seven â€œblocs,â€ 68 numbered â€œFronts," nine named â€œFronts,â€ and four urban â€œmilitias.â€
The FARC is dedicated to the violent overthrow of Colombiaâ€™s democratically elected government and has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State. The FARC finances its terrorist activities through narcotics trafficking and kidnapping for ransom, including the kidnapping of Americans and other foreign nationals.
During the Bush Administration, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Peter Pace warned members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that members of radical Islamic groups were active in South America recruiting and training terrorists. Yet, the Democrat-controlled Senate ignored Gen. Pace's warning.
Today, Terrorist-sponsoring nation Iran is increasing its presence in Latin America, and Hezbollah, a terrorist organization it sponsors, is making inroads in drug trafficking in Colombia, according to American Forces Press Service's spokesperson Donna Miles in a press statement to Chief of Police Magazine, a publication of the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
Navy Admiral James G. Stavridis told the House Armed Services Committee that he shares the concerns of Defense Secretary Robert Gates about Iranian activity in Central and South America.
Iran has opened six embassies in the region during the past five years and is promoting Islamic activities in the region, according to Miles' report.
"That is of concern, principally because of the connection between the government of Iran, which is a state sponsor of terrorism, and Hezbollah," Stavridis told Congressman.
"We see a great deal of Hezbollah activity throughout South America, in particular," he said. Much of that activity takes place in the tri-border area of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, and in the Caribbean, an area previously pinpointed by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace (USMC-Ret) in a similar congressional hearing.
Stavridis noted in his written statement that the Pentagon supported a Drug Enforcement Administration operation in the tri-border area last August that targeted a Hezbollah-connected drug trafficking organization.
Two months later, officials from the US Southern Command supported another interagency operation in which several dozen people were arrested in Colombia for ties to a Hezbollah-connected drug trafficking and money laundering ring.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.