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PostCOLOMBIA: Terrorists, Drug dealers, etc. (Ronald Hilton, USA, 04/27/02 3:58 am)
There is a whole underworld, consisting of terrorist networks, drug dealers, marxists, and front parties, of which most of us know little. Figuring out their existence, range, and interconnections is a complex intelligence job. Congress discusses these matters in closed sessions, but here is a Reuters report on a public statement: "The Irish Republican Army (IRA) has operated as part of an international terror network that trained Marxist guerrillas in southern Colombia, a US House of Representatives committee said on Tuesday after a nine-month investigation. In a preview of its report, the House Committee on International Relations said the IRA, along with Iranians, Cubans and possibly members of the ETA Basque separatist group, had been training the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Washington has labeled the FARC - leftist rebels heavily involved in the drugs trade who have waged a 38-year-old war against Colombian authorities - a "terrorist" organization. "It is likely that in the former FARC safe haven, these terrorist groups had been sharing techniques, honing their terrorism skills, using illicit drug proceeds in payment and collectively helping to challenge the rule of law in Colombia," the committee said in a release on its website. The panel said the developments in Colombia illustrated the potential threat of drug-financed terrorism and organized crime of a global reach. The committee launched an investigation after three suspected IRA members were arrested in Bogota on 11 August and charged with training FARC rebels. They were traveling with false passports and had spent weeks in the demilitarized enclave controlled by the FARC. The preview of the committee's findings was released on the same day Irish nationalist Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams declined an invitation to attend a congressional hearing on the alleged IRA links to the Colombia guerillas. Adams said he feared his attendance at the US hearing could be used to destabilize the Northern Ireland peace process, and that he had received legal advice his presence could prejudice the men's trial. The Irishmen, who face up to eight years in jail, deny being members of the IRA. "Colombia is a potential breeding ground for international terror equaled perhaps only by Afghanistan, and the IRA findings are the strongest among these global links because of the arrests of the three Irish nationals and the accompanying evidence," the international relations committee said".
A message to Colombians at Stanford expressed anger at what a Colombian felt were insults ridiculing the plight of his country. I would like to assure Colombians that this is exceptional. Most of us feel a deep sympathy for Colombians, whose suffering we understand and whose feelings we share.