More on the links between South American drug traffickers and AQIM

An excerpt from DW:

Alexandre Schmidt, spokesman for the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) told journalists in November the mysterious flight had originated in Venezuela, fuelling allegations that Venezuela supports terrorism and drugs trafficking. Venezuelan officials question the assertion. But critics of President Hugo Chavez, pointing to his support of the FARC, charge that widespread corruption reaching into the highest echelons of government facilitates Venezuelan involvement in drugs trafficking. "Chavez may not be involved, but he certainly looks the other way. None of his aides have been removed from office," Ariel Segal, a Lima-based expert on Venezuela, told Deutsche Welle.

The arrest in of the three operatives of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the al Qaeda affiliate in West Africa, further heightens concern about the Islamists’ links to Latin American traffickers. The three Mali nationals arrived in New York on December 18 after being arrested by authorities in Ghana as a result of a four-month long sting operation in which two paid DEA informants posed as FARC representatives. The three men appeared in court on the day of their arrival to be charged with narco-terrorism conspiracy and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

They are the first al Qaeda operatives to have been captured by the US in a drug trafficking plot in Africa. They told the undercover DEA informants, according to court documents, that they could protect major Latin American shipments of cocaine in the Sahel and transport the drugs by truck through the desert and finally to Spain. They said they would charge up to 7,000 euros ($10,000) per kilogram.

Read it all.

Before: Drug trafficking: More on Air AlQaeda, Venezuela-Sahel: international net of drug trafficking and terrorism.

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Drug trafficking: More on “Air Al-Qaeda

More on the connection between South America and the Sahel, a Saharan desert region:

According to UN reports, nearly 60 percent of the cocaine sold in Europe transits through weak West African states such as Mali, Niger, Mauritania, and Guinea Bissau – a flow of cash and contraband that undermines the credibility of each country’s ability to govern itself.

As many of these same countries are now becoming a haven for a shadowy group calling itself Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), there are growing concerns that Islamist radicals and Latin American drug cartels may be working together, both to enrich themselves and to weaken the law enforcement capability of those West African states.

“At this point Al Qaeda in the Maghreb seems to be nothing more than just facilitators, but more and more we see evidence of them working together,” says an official for the US military at the Africom command center in Stuttgart, speaking on background. But it is safe to assume, the official adds, that Al Qaeda “is profiting from the drug trafficking trade going through its areas” of the Sahara.

A 2008 Department of Homeland Security report, obtained by Reuters, warned of a growing fleet of rogue aircraft – at least 10 aircraft including executive jets, twin-engine turboprops, and aging Boeing 727s, crisscrossing the Atlantic. The DEA also told Reuters that all aircraft seized in West Africa had departed Venezuela.

When it comes to traffickers use of planes between West Africa and Latin America, US military experts say there is a clear potential threat to American security. “We know what those planes are carrying across the Atlantic to Africa. But what goes back [on those planes] to [Latin] American shores?” says one US military official. “You know what the condition of the [US] southern borders are. You see the beginning of a process of thought.

via Air Al Qaeda: Are Latin America’s drug cartels giving Al Qaeda a lift? – Yahoo! News.

Yes, this should worry US. And it should worry Europe, specially Spain and France, already menaced by AQ, precisely because of their links with the region.

Also, Chávez has a link with FARC narco-terrorist group as it’s been widely proved (more). So, has he any connection with these flights?

Spain: Italian Prosecutors’ report showed AQIM recruitment

El País (Translation T&P, being un update on this story):

Spain is the last ring of Salafism in Europe“. This appears written in a confidential report of the Italian Prosecutor’s office from 2001 and sums up the huge spread of this Islamist group in the country. This same group has kidnapped 3 volunteers in Mauritania.

A group funded and formed by recruits belonging to different cells and their supporters in Spain. A group which has its more productive and comfortable European basis in Spain, after France.

Last reports sent to Spanish Government by the National Inteligence Center (CNI), the General Police and Civil Guard Information Office point out that Spain is a “recruitment ground” and “constant source of funding” of AQIM (Al-Qaeda for an Islamic Maghreb). There are around 30 open investigations now in Spain about Islamist terrorism which have this group as their target.

The author of this Italian report about Salafism explained how since the late 90s, the leaders in Europe of the Hassan Hattab’s cells, the then leader of the Salafist Group for the Preaching and Combat (GSPC), ended up taking refuge in Spain, attracted like a magnet.The members of AQIM that kidnapped Alicia Gómez, Roque Pascual and Albert Villalta since Nov 29th, have a lot of “brothers” that are now waiting to be judged or imprisoned for belonging to this “organization”, according to Penitentiary Institution’s sources. Most of them are Algerians, but there are also Moroccans and Tunisians. Continue reading

Venezuela-Sahel: international net of drug trafficking and terrorism

Following the news of 4 European (3 Spanish and 1 French) volunteers kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in Mauritania and taken then to Mali, I posted about the UN denouncing that international drug trafficking is financing terrorist groups in the Sahel, a Saharan region. In its Mauritanian and Mali zones is where AQIM has now its headquarters after being expelled from Algerian coasts. The link shows a connection with Bolivarian Venezuela:

The United Nations says the discovery of a crashed plane in Mali carrying cocaine from Venezuela has revealed a link between drug trafficking and terrorism.

The head of the UN drugs agency, Antonio Maria Costa, has warned that a sub-Saharan region of Africa, known as the Sahel, has become a new centre for drug trafficking, and the trade is helping to fund rebels and militant groups.

The BBC reports the wreckage of a Boeing 727 was found in Mali last month with up to 10 tonnes of cocaine from Venezuela on board.

via Radio New Zealand News : Stories : 2009 : 12 : 10 : Link revealed by UN between drug trafficking and terrorism.

More on the links between Chávez and terrorism: Venezuela’s new Continental Bolivarian Movement: 15 Minutes on Latin America @ Fausta’s Blog.