U.S. Charges Dutch FARC Member and 17 Other Guerrillas
By Dialogo December 16, 2010
On 14 December, a U.S. court formally charged the Dutchwoman Tanja Anamary Nijmeijer and seventeen other Colombian FARC guerrillas with the kidnapping of three Americans, freed in 2008 together with former political leader Ingrid Betancourt.
Nijmeijer, who is thirty-two years old, is the only European woman to have enrolled in the FARC’s ranks since the founding of the guerrilla group in 1964.
Nijmeijer joined the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2002, according to the Colombian authorities.
A grand jury in the U.S. capital charged her, together with her seventeen colleagues, with kidnapping Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howes and holding them for more than five years, until they were rescued by the army, together with Betancourt, on 2 July 2008, the Department of Justice announced in a statement.
The Dutch guerrilla was part of the group that was with the FARC’s top military commander, Jorge Briceño (alias ‘Mono Jojoy’), when he died during a bombardment by the Colombian army, on 22 September, according to intelligence reports.
Her body has not been found, and the Colombian authorities affirm that they do not know her whereabouts.
The U.S. indictment affirms, among other details, that the three Americans were occasionally moved to Venezuelan territory by the FARC in order to escape army harassment.
It also affirms that the kidnapping victims “were taken to a meeting in 2003 with several senior members of the FARC’s Estado Mayor Central (Central General Staff), who told the Americans that their continued detention as U.S. citizens would assist the FARC’s goals by increasing international pressure on the government of Colombia to capitulate to the FARC’s demands.”
Gonsalves, Stansell, and Howes were captured in February 2003, when their small plane crashed in the jungle, in FARC territory.
The guerrillas immediately executed two of the five survivors of the accident: the pilot Thomas Janis, also an American, and a Colombian sergeant, Luis Alcides Cruz.
The other three were held under “barbaric conditions” in the jungle, the text affirms.
Colombia has already extradited to the United States one FARC guerrilla who participated in the kidnapping of Betancourt and the Americans, although the country’s Supreme Court later refused to extradite two other members of the FARC.
The extradited guerrilla, Ricardo Palmera, alias “Simón Trinidad,” was sentenced to sixty years in prison in Washington, a penalty to which Nijmeijer and her acolytes could also be sentenced.