Many of us might not know that on Dec 18th 2009, The DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart and the United States Attorney Preet Bharara, announced that there was arrests of three individuals, under the suspicion of drugs and terrorism charges.
Oumur Issa, Harouna Toure, and Idriss Abelrahman, all arrived in the Southern District of New York to face charges of conspiracy to commit acts of narco-terrorism and also conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organisation.
The charges they face stem from the defendants alleged agreement to traffic cocaine though the West and North Africa, under the intent to support three terrorists organizations, being Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Columbia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia or FARC).
These three organisations have been designated by the United States Department of State as Foreign Terrorist Organisations.
Strangely enough these charges are the first time that associates of Al Qaeda have been charged with narco-terrorism offenses.
The suspects were arrested in Ghana back in December 16th 2009, by request of the United States, they were then transferred into the custody of the United States and transported to the Southern District of New York.
DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart said about the arrests, “Today’s arrests are further proof of the direct link between dangerous terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda, and international drug trafficking that fuels their violent activities.” “These narco terrorists do not respect borders and do not care who they harm with their drug trafficking conspiracies.
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.”
United States Attorney Preet Bharara spoke saying, “Today’s allegations reflect the emergence of a worrisome alliance between Al Qaeda and transnational narcotics traffickers. 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.” “We will continue to work with our partners at the DEA, in Ghana, and around the world to meet the threat narco terrorism poses to our national security.”
The Al Qaeda and AQIM were founded in 1989, and is a terrorist organisation with it’s main mission is to attack the United States. Al Qaeda works on it’s own, and through other terrorist organisation that operate under it.
AQIM, which is formerly the Salafist Group for Preaching Combat (GSPC) was founded in the late 1990’s under the assistance of Usama Bin Laden.
Ayman Al Zawahiri, a high ranking member of Al Qaeda, and also a close associate of Bin Laden, announced on September 11, 2006, that the GSPC had joined the Al Qaeda and called for “our brothers of the GSPC to hit the foundations of the Crusader alliance, primarily their old leader the infidel United States.”
This all according to a Complaint unsealed in the Manhattan federal court.
The FARC had since 1964, been an International terrorist group who dedicated themselves to the violent overthrow of the democratically elected Government of Columbia.
To reach it’s goals the highly structured and organised military group, engaged in narcotic trafficking as a financial mechanism and eventually evolved into the worlds largest supplier of cocaine.
The FARC, over the last five years had directed violent acts against US persons and commercial property and had even directed the kidnapping and murder of US citizens and attacks on US interests in order to dissuade the States from disrupting its cocaine manufacturing and trafficking activities.
Issa, Toure and Abelrahman, stated their association with Al Qaeda and also their ability to transport cocaine through West Africa and through North Africa. They also mentioned their ability to give options of routes such as through Algeria and Libya or through Algeria and Morocco. Even suggesting the possibility of kidnapping foreign nationals to raise money for the cause.
The charges they face of narco-terrorism conspiracy, carry a minimum sentence of 20 years, and a maximum of life in prison.
The charges contained in the complaint are also merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.