Friday, December 18, 2009

Selling Drugs to Fund Terror: al-Qaeda Linked to Cocaine Trafficking

Selling Drugs to Fund Terror: al-Qaeda Linked to Cocaine Trafficking
Three men linked to al-Qaeda arrested in Africa by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents following a cocaine sting operation have been extradited to New York and are slated to appear in federal court in Manhattan today, according to federal sources.

Shabab militia patrol Bakara Market in Mogadishu in this Oct. 2009 file photo. Three men linked to...
(Abdurashid Abikar/AFP/Getty Images)
The arrests confirm the suspicions of the DEA that al-Qaeda is providing protection for narcotics traffic and using the proceeds "to facilitate terror operations," federal sources said. Oumar Issa, Harouna Toure and Idress Abelrahman will be charged with narco-terrorism conspiracy and conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization after allegedly agreeing to transport cocaine shipments as large as 1,000 kilos.


According to DEA officials, the cocaine sting was orchestrated along a route through West Africa to North Africa that serves as a gateway for transshipment to Europe. The men were arrested after an investigation in which informants and agents posed as Latin American narco-terrorists who shared anti-American interests with the men.

Issa, Toure and Abelrahman claim to be from Mali, sources say. The operatives who conducted the sting posed as members of the Colombian revolutionary group FARC.

According to the unsealed criminal complaint, a confidential source met with Issa and Toure in Ghana in Sep. and Oct. The source, using the cover of a Lebanese radical, told Issa he represented FARC and that "the Colombians were very sympathetic to 'the cause.'"

The source then met with Toure, who said he could transport cocaine from Ghana through North Africa to Spain. "Toure also described his strong relationship with the al-Qaeda groups that control areas of North Africa," said the complaint. "Toure stated that he has worked with al-Qaeda to transport and deliver between one and two tons of hashish to Tunisia," and also cooperated with al-Qaeda in human trafficking. He also allegedly told the source that he could work with al-Qaeda to arrange kidnappings for ransom. Toure said that "our friends, the radicals and the Muslims" would guarantee the transport of a shipment of cocaine through the desert. "Toure clarified that the 'military people' were al-Qaeda," according to the complaint. Toure then produced Abdelrahman as a member of the militia that would guard the contraband on its trip.

Terrorists, Crooks Allowed to Keep FAA Pilot's Licenses
Citing ABC News Report, Senators Call for Investigation of TSA Vetting Process
Dec. 18, 2009
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has asked the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Inspector General to investigate why suspect individuals – including terrorists and drug kingpins – have been able to retain their Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot's licenses.

Fernando Zevallos Gonzalez, called the "Al Capone of Peru" by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency....
(ABC News Photo Illustration)
In a letter to DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner, the senators cited media reports, including an ABC News investigation, that questioned the ability of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to purge the FAA's aviation list of individuals posing a threat to transportation security.


In one high-profile case reported by theBlotter, a well-known drug boss named Fernando Zevallos Gonzalez was able to keep his U.S. aviation license despite being on a "black list" of foreign drug kingpins since 2004.

The Blotter also reported the names of two other men tied to drug trafficking and two convicted arms traffickers who still had their licenses as of Oct. The New York Times revealed that individuals charged or convicted of terrorism-related crimes were also able to retain their FAA licenses. While some of the individuals named in the ABC News and Times reports have since been stripped of their licenses, others have not, according to Safe Banking Systems (SBS), the New York computer security firm that first uncovered the suspect cases.

"These reports are disturbing, and suggest that people who are believed to pose security threats to our nation continue to have ready access to aircraft and airport facilities," the letter to Skinner states. The letter is signed by senators Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex., ranking member of the committee; Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security; and Jim DeMint, R-S.C., ranking member of the subcommittee.

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