Al-Qaeda, Colombian Drug Ring Accused By U.S.
By Dialogo December 21, 2009Three alleged al-Qaeda members arrived in New York to face charges of trying to set up a drug trafficking ring in Africa on behalf of Colombia's leftist FARC guerrilla group, officials said. "Today's allegations reflect the emergence of a worrisome alliance between al-Qaeda and transnational narcotics traffickers," US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "As terrorists diversify into drugs, however, they provide us with more opportunities to incapacitate them and cut off the funding for future acts of terror." The men are accused of contacting undercover informants in Ghana who were posing as members of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Latin America's longest-standing guerilla outfit. The men said al-Qaeda could provide protection for the transportation of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from West Africa through North Africa and ultimately into Spain. They also allegedly discussed the possibility of kidnapping foreign nationals to "raise money for the cause," the Justice Department said in a press release. "These narco-terrorists do not respect borders and do not care who they harm with their drug trafficking conspiracies," said Drug Enforcement Agency Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart. "Working with our narcotics law enforcement partners in Ghana and across the globe, DEA is making unprecedented progress in dismantling illicit drug networks in western Africa and around the world, and putting the criminals who operate them behind bars, where they belong." Ourmar Issa, Harouna Toure and Idriss Abelrahman were charged with one count of narco-terrorism conspiracy, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison, and one count of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.