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.
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