For those of you coming late to the party, I started with this first post on a quick look at some of the strangeness in the JFK plot and then went on to do a run-down of the basic woes of the Caribbean and Latin America with respect to terrorism and such. And this post picks up as a continuation of that second post. So less rigorous first just to get an initial scope-out and then the rundown of which this is a continuation.
Now where did I leave off?
Ah, yes, with Suriname, criminal Shaheed "Roger" Khan, also known as "Short Man," and the fact that Suriname and Guyana are 'safe havens' for criminals and terrorists. This was just shortly after the US Government being a bit stunned that a series of raids it led for Columbia against FARC was wider in scope than they thought it actually was. And stammered about saying how the US knew far more about FARC and its interconnections to other terrorist organizations than the mere locals! Hey, I get *that* from the US Government, too, on how well they spend my tax dollars...
So, before I wander back up to Trinidad and the radical groups there, it is time to take out the scissors to the idea that FARC is all out there, on its own, unconnected to anyone. To do that I will use the cluebat that just keeps on swinging - Ralf Mutschke, Interpol's Assistant Director, Criminal Intelligence Directorate and his 13 DEC 2000 written testimony presented to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, looking at the spread of oranized crime from the Balkans, Russia and Eastern Europe:
Strategic Alliances between Crime Groups: the Colombian NexusThis amount of traffic in narcotics and other goods means there is a ripe opportunity for terrorist organizations to get their very own steady flow of funds via control of a portion of the traffic. Hezbollah, indeed, has been fingered for being in the region and the backers of Islamic terrorism in Argentina, Brazil and Panama. This is further backed up by the 2004 trial that I have referenced before from ttgapers citing a Trinidad Express article:
The strategies devised by Colombian drug cartels merit a discussion in further detail. Over the years, these criminal entities have formed numerous alliances with other criminal groups in order to extend the scope of their illicit business. Their rational, and, incidentally, highly successful strategic decision making has led to providing them with a more global reach. The presence of terrorist groups in the area explains the obvious link between drugs and the arms trade in that region.
Generally speaking, the formation of alliances can be viewed as a response by a particular firm or company to overcome its own limitations. With the emergence of global markets, alliances are becoming a necessity for almost any business. Each firm has something that the other needs or wants, such as knowledge of a certain market or an established distribution network. Drug cartels, although an illegitimate business, are forming alliances with other organized criminal groups around the world to extend their operations and conquer new markets.
In order to smuggle their illicit products into the U.S., Colombian drug cartels began forming alliances with Mexican groups, who have a well-developed smuggling infrastructure for transporting drugs across the vast border with the United States. As Mexicans began to charge more for their services, Colombians established relationships with various Dominican, Jamaican, Puerto Rican, and African-American groups which act as smugglers and retailers for Colombian wholesale cocaine. Colombians have also formed an alliance with some of the Nigerian drug trafficking groups based on product exchange. In the early 1990s, Nigerian groups supplied heroin to Colombian drug traffickers in exchange for cocaine. Colombians were able to develop their own heroin market, while Nigerians started selling cocaine in Western Europe. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, an important alliance was formed between Colombian drug cartels and the Sicilian Mafia. Since the cocaine market in the U.S. was saturated, and because cocaine could be sold with higher profit margins in Europe, Colombians wanted to enter the European drug market. The Cosa Nostra’s well established heroin network was easily applicable to cocaine. In addition, the Sicilians had an excellent knowledge of European conditions and were able to neutralize law enforcement officials through bribery and corruption more effectively than the Colombians. From the Sicilian perspective, the alliance with Colombians was an opportunity to regain part of the market that had been lost to Chinese heroin traffickers. In recent years, South American drug cartels have been forming alliances with East European/Russian Organized Crime Groups in order to support and diversify their operations. East European groups have offered drug cartels access to sophisticated weapons that were previously not available. Helicopters, surface-to-air missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, and even submarines are on the drug cartels’ "shopping list." The East European groups provided new drug markets in Russia, the former Soviet Republics, and Eastern Europe, while consumption was decreasing in the U.S. In 1993, Russian police intercepted a ton of South American cocaine which had been shipped to St. Petersburg by one Russian crime syndicate working with a Colombian drug cartel. In another example, a Russian crime leader was arrested in January 1997 in Miami by U.S. agents for the exportation of cocaine from Ecuador to St. Petersburg (Russia) and then to the United States. In exchange for these services, drug cartels pay for transactions with high quality cocaine. East European/Russian crime syndicates and corrupt military officers are supplying sophisticated weapons to Colombian rebels in exchange for huge shipments of cocaine. Although the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) receives most of the arms, some of them are distributed to Hezbollah factions.
The financing of the two main terrorist organizations operating in Colombia, namely the FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN), originates from several sources, with the most important one being the drug trafficking. A "tax system" ran by FARC collects $20 USD for each kilo of base cocaine produced, $30 USD for each kilo of crystal, and $2,500 USD for each use of a landing strip. Approximately 61% of FARC's operational area is also an area for cultivation and production of cocaine. The guerrilla members also protect the laboratories belonging to the narco-traffickers and this protection is provided in exchange for financial compensation. The largest amount, approximately $515 million dollars, was raised by Colombia's oldest guerrilla organization, FARC. The smaller National Liberation Army earned approximately $380 million dollars. These groups raised approximately $910 million dollars from abductions, extortion and drug trafficking in 1997. In the last four years, these groups’ earnings soared by 130%, which surpasses the combined incomes of Colombia's seven largest firms. Since 1996, the UNHCR estimates that more than 800,000 people have been displaced in Colombia as a result of guerrilla warfare. In an attempt to negotiate peace with guerrilla groups, the Colombian government granted the ELN a demilitarized zone in the northeastern provinces of Antioquia and Bolivar in April 2000. This is the second guerrilla safe-zone created in Colombia. The FARC’s own demilitarized zone, which lies in the jungles in the south, was created in 1998.
In the South American context, it is also worthwhile to mention Peru and Argentina. Like Colombia, Peru is combating guerrilla groups in the Andean jungles. The main guerrilla group is the "Sendero Luminoso" (Shining Path), led by Oscar Ramirez, also known as "Comrade Feliciano." In order to finance their operations and terrorist attacks, they often resort to drug production and smuggling. In May 1997, a joint action by the Peruvian military and police resulted in the capture of several leaders of the Shining Path. The Shining Path operates in the Apurimac valley, the second largest coca growing area in Amazonia. The increasing poverty in the region allows the guerrilla group to recruit young people between the ages of 14 and 18 and enlarge the scope of their activities. The rebels suffered a setback in their operations, however, when one of their leader, Oscar Ramirez Durand, was arrested in 1999.
It appears that Argentina is becoming a major money laundering center for organized criminal groups from Colombia and Mexico, and recently there appears to be activity from various East European/Russian organized crime groups. Since Argentina does not yet have an anti-laundering body, the total amount laundered annually is not known. According to a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an estimated $6 billion dollars are laundered in Argentine banks each year. According to the Argentine federal police, approximately $5 billion came from Paraguay to be laundered in 1998. Allegedly, the money is usually channeled "through front companies in Uruguay, then through banks in the Caribbean, and finally to Europe and the United States".
Finally, the area called the "Triple Border", where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet is known for arms trafficking, vehicle theft, counterfeit currency, forged documents, as well as for being a refuge for Latin American, Lebanese, Russian, Chinese, and other criminal and terrorist organizations. It is not clear if the Hezbollah figures among these terrorist groups, but Islamic fundamentalists are suspected of having committed two terrorist attacks in Argentina : in 1992, a car bomb destroyed the Israeli embassy building in Buenos Aires and in 1994 another car bomb attack was directed against the "Mutual Association". These investigations are still ongoing and Interpol channels have been used for the exchange of information in the framework of these cases. To provide an idea of the scope of criminal activity in this area, a former President of the Brazilian Central Bank stated in 1999, that approximately $18 million USD are laundered daily in the banking agencies of the city of Foz de Iguazu (Brazil), a city which is located in this region.
The main smuggling routes to Europe originate in Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Cocaine is concealed in containers and shipped to Rotterdam (The Netherlands), Barcelona (Spain), Genoa (Italy), and the ports of some Baltic states. In addition, small boats transport cocaine from South America to Spain, where drugs are transferred aboard Spanish fishing boats. Lastly, an air route exists between West Africa and Europe. However, Spain continues to dominate as the main entrance point for Colombian drugs into Europe. In 1998, more than 31% of all cocaine seizures in Europe occurred in Spain. On August 2, 1999, the Spanish authorities seized ten metric tons of Colombian cocaine on a Russian-owned ship southwest of the Canary Islands. This shipment was the largest cocaine seizure carried out by European police. In addition, 200 kilograms of heroin were confiscated.
What appears to be the "forecast" for South America? In the northern tier - Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru - drug trafficking will continue to dominate along with insurgence of the guerrilla groups. The abundance of drugs and oil in the region, as well as guerrilla activities, is a dangerous mixture for political stability.
U.S. on Jamaat trail - Muslimeen member gives evidence about group's gun, drug-running operationsYes, an individual gets into the US, gets false documents, smuggles cocain and uses the proceeds to get a compatriot to buy guns to smuggle back to Trinidad. Lovely how that works, isn't it? And this brings us back to Trinidad and Jamaat al-Muslimeen (JaM). Now as I have already been *over* them a bit, lets start branching out to their offshoots! You can't seem to get a group of religious extremists centering around a charismatic figure then, suddenly, you get others disagreeing with the figure and setting up their *own* even more extreme group.
Sunday, August 15, 2004 - 03:05 PM
The John Doe witness is said to have told US authorities of a Muslimeen connection to a terrorist cell in Karachi, Pakistan, and of criminal jobs assigned to him by the Muslimeen hierarchy, including gun smuggling, drug trafficking and the payment of laundered funds to key members of the Mucurapo Road organisation.
He told of being directed to rendezvous with a key lieutenant in Brooklyn, New York, and of the latter providing him with false US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) documents and a social security card.
According to US sources, John Doe also testified about a key lieutenant of the Muslimeen supplying him with smuggled cocaine which he, in turn, sold to dealers in Connecticut. He is said to have returned almost all of the proceeds of the drug sale to his Muslimeen contact in the US and other high-ranking members of the group, keeping only a small fraction to cover his expenses.
The John Doe witness, who is said to have had some involvement in the May 30, 2001 failed attempt to smuggle a shipment of machine guns and assault rifles into this country, told US investigators of a Muslimeen plan to take possession of some of the weapons for the group's private use. He is also reported to have been privy to discussions relating to a Muslimeen plan to sell the rest of the weapons to the underworld. Transcripts of taped telephone conversations show a key Muslimeen official detailing plans to sell the AK-47 rifles in Trinidad for US$4,000 apiece.
Small, who has challenged legal efforts to extradite him to the US to stand trial on gun-running charges, was identified by co-conspirator in the aborted arms deal, Keith Andre Glaude, as the consignee to the shipment of 60 AK-47s and Mac-10 machine pistols with silencers, which was intercepted en route to Trinidad by US undercover agents in Fort Lauderdale.
Glaude, a former close associate of Small and another T&T national resident in the US, told investigators of the Muslimeen plan to ship the weapons cache to Trinidad concealed in a shipment of hollowed out furniture.
US agents, who lost track of the guns used in the 1990 uprising, report that the planned method of transportation for the arms cache in 2001 was almost a blueprint of the one used for the April 1990 shipment, which had its origins in Broward County and involved weapons concealed inside a stack of hollowed out plywood.
The guns used in the attempted coup were readily traced to international gun-runner and Muslim prayer leader Louis Haneef who collected them in a two-month buying spree during October and November of 1989. The money to buy the guns had been washed through BCCI, the Luxembourgh-based bank linked to drug smuggling, money laundering, Mid-East terrorism and covert CIA operations.
US authorities following Haneef's paper trail found US$18,000 worth of Bank of Bahrain-issued US Visa travellers cheques signed by Bakr and deposited in Haneef's bank account. Each cheque was good for US$1,000. Both the 1990 and the 2001 weapons shipments involved the use of a storage facility in Ft Lauderdale.
Since their 1992 release from prison on treason and murder charges, 48 members of the 114 original coup-makers, including Bakr, have been charged with a series of offences ranging from murder, through attempted murder and conspiracy to murder, to kidnapping, extortion, narcotics trafficking, armed robbery and possession of arms and ammunition.
Several of their members, including Paul Julien aka Abdul Qadir, have been linked to a series of bloody murders, among them the June 22, 1995 assassination of former Attorney General Selwyn Richardson.
Lawmen found fingerprints and other evidence linking Qadir, a Libyan-trained bomb specialist, to the Richardson murder. Qadir and Curtis Felix, aka Kedar, were reportedly brought in on a $200,000 contract by notorious crime figure Imran Ali to kill the former NAR minister for an unnamed client.
Richardson took six bullets at point blank range in the driveway of his Cascade home. Four days later, Qadir, who was being sought by the police in connection with the Richardson murder, was discovered slumped over the steering wheel of a green Mazda 929, registration PAX 4283, on the shoulder of the Solomon Hochoy Highway. The car was registered to Annisa Abu Bakr, one of Bakr's four wives. Qadir had been shot through the head, execution-style.
Waajihatul Islaamiyyah (WI)
And just *why*, praytell, should we pay attention to this lot?
To answer that lets take a look at a bit found at a trinidad news forum on the leader of WI:
LOCAL police officers have seized several computer files from Umar Abdullah related to the activities of his organisation, Waajihatul Islaamiyyah (The Islamic Front) and its connections with several radical international Muslim groups.Yes, a follower of radical Islam trying to set up an Islamic State in Trinidad & Tobago (TT), just like the Taliban had in Afghanistan. So this fellow, Umar Abdullah (aka Omar Abdullah), seems to have some basic counter-intelligence capability and does his best to erase direct contacts while putting out more generalized support for al Qaeda and bin Laden. His words are more than just bluster, however, as over at the Oil & Gas Journal Newsletter - December 23, 2002 - volume 100, issue 52, we get this little number:
Abdullah, a Princes Town-based fundamentalist Muslim, has been identified as the man being sought by US and British intelligence in connection with reported threats to American and British interests in Trinidad and Tobago.
Two months ago, he was held at a routine police roadblock in Rio Claro and several computer files and documents were found in his car.
The Express learned that the files were seized and Abdullah was interrogated by two Special Branch police officers. The files reportedly contained information on the United States, Israel and Britain and several articles written by Abdullah condemning these countries and advocating military action against them by Muslims.
Abdullah was reportedly taken from the Rio Claro Police Station by Special Branch officers to an internet cafe where he was ordered to download the information from the computer onto a diskette.
However, the Express understands that several key documents relating to the links between Waajihatul Islaamiyyah and international Muslim groups, possibly including Al Qaeda, Hamas, Jihad and Jama Islaamiyyah, were deleted before it could be downloaded onto the diskette.
Following the incident, Abdullah was charged with driving the car with false licence plates. He was subsequently fined for the offence.
FBI, CIA and British SAS agents are currently here investigating reports about plans to attack US and British interests in this country. Abdullah's organisation is suspected as the group behind the plans.
U.S. Embassy officials said yesterday they had "no comment" to make on the matter, while British High Commission's public relations officer, Phillip Everest, said the High Commission was in "touch with local security authorities". He would not comment further on the matter.
Senior police officials said yesterday Abdullah is a "well known fundamentalist" and confirmed that he is under constant surveillance as he "falls under the category of people who the police like to know about".
Abdullah's organisation openly supports Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, the Taliban and a Jihad (Holy War) against the US and its allies. Through its monthly newsletter the group has made several calls for the establishment of an Islamic State in Trinidad and Tobago.
Yesterday Police Commissioner Hilton Guy said statements made by Abdullah about setting up an Islamic state were not enough to justify a sedition charge against him.
Abdullah's two houses, one at Chaguanas and the other at Princes Town, have been raided several times by police in search of arms and ammunition.
Government DevelopmentsThat is not a natural gas pipeline, but LNG transport ships. LNG is Liquified Natural Gas.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO'S security forces are on high alert following threats from an Islamic fundamentalist group to American and British energy interests in the Caribbean twin-island nation.
Reports out of the country's capital say its security forces have unearthed a plan by a group called Waajihatul Islaamiyyah (Islamic Front), led by Umar Abdullah, to attack US and British interests in Trinidad and Tobago. It is believed that the group has links with Al Qaeda. Officers from the UK's Secret Service along with the US Central Intelligence Agency and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation are on the island investigating the matter.
Firms from both the US and UK have invested billions of dollars in the Caribbean nation, most of which is in the energy sector. Numerous major oil and gas companies operate there, and it is a key country particularly for BP PLC and BG PLC.
It is understood that Trinidad and Tobago's intelligence officers intercepted a cellular telephone conversation in which Abdullah was heard planning to strike American interests on Dec. 22. Apart from energy interests, he allegedly discussed an attack on the US embassy in Port of Spain.
Frank Diaz, head of Trinidad's Special Branch, the security arm responsible for intelligence gathering, said that authorities have been following Abdullah for 3 years. Abdullah is known to US authorities who have assembled a dossier on his organizations.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who also chairs his country's National Security Council, has refused to talk about the matter, saying he does not discuss national security matters publicly.
Trinidad and Tobago is a key supplier of natural gas to the US, particularly New England.
As in: under pressure until liquefied.
As in: floating bomb that is already a fuel-air explosive.
To see why *that* is a threat we head on over to the Institute for Analysis on Global Security and their Energy Security document of 15 NOV 2004:
Radical Islam and LNG in Trinidad and TobagoWhy, 19 SEPT 2001 is just after 9/11... coincidence? But even behind that, notice the use of Piracy to support terrorism and Piracy is an Act of War. And LNG tankers are a one-stop shop for the WMD-wannabe terrorist group: gaseous fuel kept in liquid state that is highly under pressure that, when ruptured, can disperse the contents and explode, sucking in oxygen as the explosion expands and sending out a forceful and long lasting shockwave as it does so. FAE bombs, in the military parlance, are known as "Daisy Cutters". Or a similar Massive Ordinance Air Burst bomb (MOAB)... although I do believe an LNG tanker would make that seem like a matchhead.
Over the past several years, maritime attacks have become more violent, more frequent and clearly more organized. It is believed that militant groups, particularly in South East Asia, are practicing hijacking ships for their possible use as weapons. Of all types of vessels oil and chemical tankers are perhaps the most attractive targets for terrorists. These vessels are manned by smaller crews and loaded with volatile substances that could potentially cause significant damage. According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) attacks against tankers are growing at an alarming rate.
While all eyes are placed on the area surrounding the Malacca Straits, the world oil bottleneck, and on the Indonesian coast off Aceh, very little attention is placed on the U.S. underbelly of the Caribbean and the softer targets in the region closest to America's back yard: Trinidad, Venezuela and the Bahamas. These Caribbean countries are among the short list of natural gas producing countries and liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) exporters. Trinidad and Tobago alone account for 80% (1st quarter 2004) of all U.S. LNG imports, up from 68% in 2002. Therefore, any incident involving an LNG tanker along the Caribbean routes could harm not only U.S. energy security but also the economies of the Caribbean islands, affecting tourism and other industries.
LNG and Tanker Terrorism
U.S. Department of Energy figures paint a bleak picture for U.S. dependence on imported energy in the coming decades. Existing well heads in the U.S. are being depleted while demand for natural gas is expected to rise 2% a year. Imports from Canada, whose own energy demand is increasing, are projected to pick up some of the burden. But Canada's gas demand is growing faster than expected, also due to the gas intensive process of converting tar sands to crude oil, and thus its ability to export gas to the U.S. is being diminished. The U.S. will therefore be required to import more of its gas in LNG form from Nigeria, Sao Tome, Trinidad, Venezuela and the Persian Gulf. Today 2% of total gas usage in the U.S. is derived from LNG. By 2010 this figure is likely to grow to 10%.
LNG terminals and tankers present potential targets for terrorists. In the pre-9/11 world LNG tankers were considered among the safest ships at sea. These tankers are still as safe as is possible for a vessel of this nature today. But this statement is only valid if one pre-supposes that terrorists do not want an easily attainable weapon of mass destruction. The potential for mass casualty maritime suicide terrorism has changed our perceptions of safety at sea especially when it comes to lean crewed LNG tankers and other PCG (Petro/chemical/gas) and ships. With maritime terrorists currently combing the world for ways to make their message reach as wide an audience as possible, LNG tankers could be their perfect mass casualty weapon.
Islamic fundamentalism in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is a beautiful country in the Southern part of the Caribbean. It is in fact the southernmost of the Caribbean islands and the last island before Venezuela. It is one of the most affluent of the Caribbean islands with, for several years, the highest foreign direct investment per capita in the entire western hemisphere except for Canada. The home of tourism, steel band, calypso and carnival is unfortunately also the home of one of the first attempts at violently establishing a modern Islamic extremist state in the region after the attempted Islamic coup in July 1990. 15% of the island's population is Muslim.
The group responsible, Jama'at al Muslimeen under the control of Imam Yasin Abu Bakr, is alive and thriving in Trinidad. Congressional testimony of Major General Gary D. Speer, Acting Commander in Chief U.S. Southern Command to the House Appropriations Committee on International Relations, Subcommittee on Foreign Operations in April 2002 stated: "The recent bombing outside the U.S Embassy in Peru preceding President Bush's visit is indicative that other domestic terrorist groups pose threats to the United States elsewhere in the hemisphere. These include, but are not limited to, the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in Peru and the Jama'at al Muslimeen (JAM) in Trinidad and Tobago."
Other groups active on the island are Waajihatul Islaamiyyah (The Islamic Front) and the Jamaat al Murabiteen. The Waajihatul Islaamiyyah group openly supports Osama Bin Laden, al Qaeda and Jemmah Islamiyyah, the organization behind the Bali beachfront bombing that killed close to 200 people. It has issued statements that it intends to set up an Islamic state and described itself as a revolutionary ideological movement. Their press releases include the following statements: "With our weapons we are going reach you. We will reach you where you sleep, we will reach you where you take your baths, we will reach you where you take your meals and have your drinks, and even a glass of water you hold in your hand to drink may not be safe." It added: "Don't for one second think you will be victorious. You feel you fight and kill us but you only fight shadows cast by the Qur'an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Your faith is in your hands-choose how it ends."
There have been other leads back to Trinidad as part of the global crackdown on terrorism. In March 2003, federal investigators announced publicly that they were searching for Adnan El'Shukri-Jumah, an American man named by a top al Qaeda operative as a trained terrorist. El'Shukri-Jumah had returned home to visit relatives in Georgetown during Ramadan 2001. He was traced to Trinidad and Canada but was lost enroute. The Sun-Sentinel reported that investigators were following up leads that El'Shukri-Jumah's father, Gulshair El'Shukri-Jumah, taught at the Darul Uloom Institute and Islamic Training Centre in Pembroke Pines, U.S. and suspicion turned to the Darul Uloom in Cunupia, Trinidad a 45-minute drive from Trinidad's capital, Port-of-Spain. The two schools shared the same name and the connections between El'Shukri-Jumah and the arrested al Qaeda operative led investigators to examine the likelihood them being part of a network for training and financing terrorists. Investigations into the connections were inconclusive.
On September 19, 2001 a man with ties to the Jamaat alleged to be linked to bin Laden pleaded guilty in a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, federal court to unlawful possession of a machine gun. Insight Magazine reported "Federal officials say that Keith Andre Gaude, who was detained in a U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) sting operation, came to Florida to buy as many as 60 AK-47 assault rifles and 10 MAC-10 submachine guns with silencers."
In October 2002, Trinidad immigrant Shueyb Mossa Jokhan was sentenced to "nearly five years in federal prison for a terrorist bombing plot," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The report said that Jokhan pleaded guilty to "conspiring to bomb electrical transformers and the Israeli Consulate in Miami." The plan reportedly was "hatched in a Florida mosque" and involved a Pakistani immigrant who recruited Jokhan for the attack.
In December 2002, Insight Magazine found further evidence that al Qaeda and two other Middle East terrorist groups had allegedly established operations and leading a holy war against U.S. and British interests from Trinidad and Tobago. "Umar Abdullah is "leading a group called the Islamic Front," believed to be "smuggling AK-47s, Tech-9s and Glocks" into the island country. It is believed that Abdullah may have fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union during the 1980s, and operates "in solidarity with al Qaeda and the Taliban" and is "maintaining relations with [the Palestinian terrorist groups] Hamas and Islamic Jihad." All these incidents indicate a growing presence of Islamist fundamentalism in the part of the world where America's LNG comes from. Without question there is concern that the significant presence of U.S. and British petroleum companies in the oil-rich nation provide easy pickings for terrorists. Local opinion is that this is the reason U.S. and British counterterrorism experts are on the island.
Now the linkages from Umar Abdullah become a bit clearer and even more radical: bin Laden, al Qaeda, Taliban, Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas/Islamic Jihad. It is Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas/IJ ties that I looked at when Rep. Steny Hoyer recently went to Egypt to meet up with some members of MB there, apparently looking for 'moderate terrorists'. Globalsecurity gives us a view of Hamas and its funding, which I will excerpt:
HAMAS receives funding from Palestinian expatriates, Iran, and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab states. Some fundraising and propaganda activities take place in Western Europe and North America. As of 2003 US intelligence sources estimated that the militant Palestinian group Hamas had an annual budget of 50 million dollars, raising much of that money through its reputation as a charity. Despite its notoriety worldwide as a terrorist group, many Palestinians see Hamas as a charitable organization that builds schools and hospitals and steps in where the Palestinian Authority has failed.Hamas is a distributed funding enterprise, concentrated in the Palestinian territories, but radiating outwards as an all source funding organization. Here I must again emphasize that the irregular, person-to-person and informal banking and money exchange networks tend to thwart the sophisticated banking networks due to the nature and type of activity that is seen by them. I went over that in this post, but suffice it to say that the Arab/Middle Eastern hawala system has its various counterparts for other populations, in particular the Peso Exchange System. Utilizing small value transfers over a period of time or dispersed amongst multiple accounts and yet all having quick access to them, allows for such transactions to get lost in the noise of the regular banking system and not show up *at all* in the informal ones.
The Hamas organization is also operating in European countries and the United States, mainly among the Palestinian population, by conducting fundraising (through charity associations and foundations - Dawa activity). Some of the funds received are channeled to finance terrorist activity in Israel, and other monies are intended for the funding of Hamas civilian activity. The United States is seeking to bankrupt Hamas by undermining its reputation as a charity.
It is not possible to separate the Dawa activities conducted for humanitarian purposes from the direct and indirect funding of terrorism: All the monies flow into a common fund, and are then channeled to the relevant activities, in accordance with needs and in coordination with the functions of the organization in the territories and abroad. The monies are transferred using the following means: bank transfers, moneychangers, private money services, unofficial networks for the transfer of funds and "unsuspecting" assistants. Thus, in view of the great difficulty in tracing the source of the money, its address and the motives behind the transfer of funds, it is essential that a strict and vigilant approach be adopted towards the entire fundraising network, operating within the framework of Dawa activity.
Even worse is the ability of such organizations in the Caribbean to smuggle not only narcotics, but terrorists into the US. In testimony given to the House of Representatives on 25 JAN 2000, Steve Emerson cited this as yet another means to get into the US:
In addition to false documents, alien terrorists and their support operatives frequently engage in immigration benefit fraud. One of the most glaring examples would be asylum fraud. All one has to do is show up at a US port of entry, even without documents, utter the two magic words "political asylum," have any moderately truthful sounding story and one is likely to be processed in - at least temporarily. The tightening of the asylum process over the past couple of years has helped - but, be a fraudulent asylum claimant showing up at a very busy Point of Entry such as JFK Airport or Miami International Airport - and you are likely to remain in detention for only a short time before you are paroled out to (hopefully) appear at a later hearing! If a name (real or false) does not appear in any of the lookout systems and the applicant merely has an alleged "friend" to stay with in the US, then parole from detention is most likely. Of course, it goes without saying, terrorist aliens so released seldom show up again - and the INS, because of serious manpower shortages and conflicting priorities, rarely pursues such absconders. Of course, any number of other immigration fraud schemes abound - marriage fraud, other familial relation fraud, naturalization fraud, work visa fraud (H-1 and L-1 and "E" status - as used by Islamic Jihad officials Ramadan Abdullah Shallah and Bashir Nafi), investor fraud and religious worker fraud.That is why "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" will not work: the Government Bureaucracy has no interest nor PAY in enforcing the laws. But do note that individuals that get *into* the US using the narcotics route do not go through any port of entry, so individuals like those that show up from Islamic radical groups in the Caribbean have multiple ways to get into the US: standard port of entry if their group is not on the State or Treasury list or they are not on either, personally, human smuggling routes through Mexico and Canada, and narcotics smuggling via light aircraft and ships. That is why groups like JaM and WI are a threat: their connection to false passports and documents (or even *real ones*) allow them to shift individuals into the US 'under the radar'.
Smuggling of alien terrorist operatives - apart from the noted utilization of false documents: alien terrorists use established alien smuggling pipelines across both the US-Mexico and US-Canada border. Maritime smuggling along the coasts, particularly via the Caribbean as well as East and West Coast seaports, occurs. How easy can it be for a terrorist operative to bribe his/her way onto a freighter destined to a busy US seaport, and simply be hidden aboard the vessel until Customs and INS have done their routine inspections, then to simply disembark the vessel?
The issue of classified evidence in immigration proceedings is now under assault by editorialists in the media and from some members of Congress. What they forget is that these proceedings are administrative in nature - not criminal - and such evidence, in spite of all the recent hoopla, is only rarely and very selectively utilized. Deportation proceedings ultimately result in a person being removed from the US - not sentenced to prison (as in criminal proceedings) - even though aliens may be detained while those proceedings go forward. As such, it should be remembered that aliens detained hold their own cell keys -all they have to is simply agree to be deported and they can be free - just not in the US. Moreover, Congress itself approved of the Classified Information Procedures Act, in which classified information can be introduced in criminal trials without releasing this information to the defendant.
Unfortunately, too many senior INS managers do not recognize the critically important role INS enforcement branches, particularly the Investigations Division, can and should play in the counter-terrorism and national security arena. These are officials at both the HQ and field levels. INS has but a small contingent of agents dedicated to this work - and, often those do not receive the recognition and support from higher management they should. INS should have at least a hundred field agents assigned to these missions - at least the same it has assigned to Organized Crime Drug Task Force efforts - but in fact INS has less than half that assigned to counter-terrorist efforts in the field. I have been told that it is not unusual for very senior INS officials - especially at headquarters (who should know otherwise), when the topic of counter-terrorism arises in senior staff meetings, to state, "that's the FBI's responsibility" and "what does INS have to do with that"! Certain key, senior INS managers fail to even understand and recognize the very statutes within the Immigration and Nationality Act they are charged with enforcing!
I have previously looked at the testimony of Janice L. Kephart before the House Judiciary Committee on 08 JUN 2006, and will now look at one individual who basically utilized this informal system to commit terrorism in the US:
John Lee Mohammad in Antigua and Baruba. John Lee Mohammed, the U.S. citizen responsible for 10 fatal shootings and 3 other near fatal shootings during a terrorist-style spree in the autumn of 2002, had financially survived prior to coming to the United States by selling forged U.S.-accepted travel documents—driver’s licenses and birth certificates.The idea that radical Islamic groups could do this is not only well within the realm of comprehension, but, due to the lax nature of many Nations for records establishment, extremely easy to do. This now gets us back to the other, major individual cited by the FBI and wanted for questioning in regards to the JFK plot who had *also* gotten into the US for *years* on fraudulent documents: Adnan El-Shukrijumah.
Muhammed brought Lee Boyd Malvo and his three children into the United States under false names, and in at least 20 incidents forged or stole identities for clients, secured air travel, and provided documents in order to secure their travel to the United States. In some cases, he charged as much as $3,000. He forged documents for Lee Boyd Malvo’s mother when she deserted her son, but when he was not paid, Malvo essentially was kept as collateral.
With simply a birth certificate or baptismal record and a driver’s license, Mohammed’s clients, covered by the Western Hemisphere Exception for travelers from North, South or Central America or the Caribbean (but for Cuba), could easily pose as American citizens or citizens of one of the covered nations, and enter the United States.
After the Task Force created by the Attorney General of Antigua and Baruba released its Final Report in December 2002, the GAO released two 2003 studies about the ease of being admitted into the United States with counterfeit birth certificates and driver’s licenses from Canada, Mexico, Jamaica and the Bahamas, this Committee held a hearing on the topic.
The ease of fraudulent entry using something other than U.S. passports for those claiming U.S. citizenship was not limited to Muhammed and his clients.
Ms. Kephart spends quite some time on him and what she had to say is worth a gander, to say the least:
Born in Saudi Arabia, Adnan El-Shukrijumah, aka “Jafar the Pilot,” has spent 15 years in the United States (mostly in South Florida), speaks fluent English, and has been employed as a teacher."Jafar the Pilot", who's father lived in Florida according to a report cited by Caribepundit. Having passports from TT, Guyana, Saudi Arabia, Canada. And here is some of what his friend Imran Mandai was up to, as seen by James W. Ziglar in testimony to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon The United States on 26 JAN 2004:
El-Shukrijumah trained with Jose Padilla to partner in the dirty bomb plot, helicopter plots, and the New York and New Jersey financial infrastructure plots discovered in the summer of 2004. A Department of Homeland Security document quoted in Newsweek states that “KSM has identified Adnan el-Shukrijumah, a Saudi born permanent U.S. resident alien, as an operative with standing permission to attack targets in the United States that had been previously approved by Osama Bin Ladin.”
FBI Director Robert Mueller called him “a trained operative who poses an operational threat to the United States” who the FBI considers to be armed and dangerous. In late 2000 or early 2001, El-Shukrijumah was under investigation for his relationship to Imran Mandhai, convicted in Florida of conspiring to bomb a National Guard armory, power stations, Jewish businesses, and Mount Rushmore prior to 9/11. Mandhai was associated with Hakki Cemal Aksoy, convicted in 2002 for firearms violations and asylum fraud and in whose apartment bomb making manuals and notes were found.
El-Shukrijumah had previously applied for naturalization, but the INS interior enforcement office in Miami noticed that the application was fraudulent. The INS agents working the case met with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami, and even discussed seeking a search warrant for El-Shukrijumah’s residence. Without further information linking El-Shukrijumah to terrorist activity, the matter was dropped.
As an LPR, El-Shukrijumah easily traveled to and from attended training camps in Afghanistan, where he was most likely schooled by Ramzi Binalshibh, famous for his role as emissary between KSM and 9/11 ring leader Mohamad Atta. El-Shukrijumah is a skilled bomb maker and a Florida trained pilot, and authorities have found a document that ties him (via one of his aliases) to the Oklahoma flight school where Zacarias Moussaoui trained. He may have been friendly with Atta as well, as I describe an immigration officer’s witnessing of receiving a request for help with travel documents in May 2001 from El-Shukrijumah on behalf of Atta and likely another 9/11 pilot in 9/11 and Terrorist Travel. According to Attorney General John Ashcroft, El-Shukrijumah “scouted sites across America that might be vulnerable to terrorist attack.” In addition to surveilling high-profile targets in New York’s financial district, El-Shukrijumah surveilled the Panama Canal.
Back in the United States, he was also involved in an aborted plot with Jose Padilla to blow up apartment buildings in the United States. He was also likely Padilla’s first partner in the dirty bomb plot, but differences between them ended the joint venture. There are also reports that El-Shukrijumah attempted to procure radioactive material from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. In March 2004, El-Shukrijumah attended a terrorist summit in Pakistan and met with a number of key al Qaeda members, including Abu Issa Al-Hindi, Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, and Mohammed Babar. IN past months he has been spotted in Mexico. He reportedly met with members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang (known as MS-13) in Honduras, although Interpol denies the existence of evidence of such a meeting. In September 2004, the Aviation and Security Association reported, “An alert airline crewmember saw and then confronted a suspicious acting person at Kansai International Airport in Japan. El Shukrijumah was this suspicious person.” However, law enforcement was not notified.
Reporting indicates that since El-Shukrijumah fled the United States after 9/11, he has tried to get back into the United States using various passports. He has a Guyanese passport, but may also hold passports from Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Trinidad. However, unless authorities made a decision to permit Shukrijumah his freedom for law enforcement or intelligence reasons, or know that he did manage to enter the United States on one of these passports undetected and law enforcement knows about it, I do not place much credence in these reports.
In 2001, information was developed that Imran Mandhai, a Pakistani national and lawful permanent resident of the United States, was plotting to destroy electrical facilities in South Florida by placing bombs at transformer and electrical substation sites. Additional plot discussions involved whether to target the Israeli Consulate in Miami, a military reserve facility, or a hospital and other locales in Tallahassee, Mandhai was arrested in February 2002 for administrative violations relating to sabotage and terrorist activities after admission to the United States. Evidence included a videotape of Mandhai identifying and handling shoulder-fired rocket launchers, AK-47s and AR-15s. He and a co-conspirator were charged with conspiracy to destroy property by fire and explosives, and solicitation to commit a crime of violence.Yes, I am sure just a terrorist 'wannabe' that was doing the logistical casework and scouting out sites to attack and exsamining how to actually use and utilize weapons of war. One who put forth that attacking a Nation's power grid is important before invasion and is also disruptive in and of itself. More worrying is the citation of trying to get cooperation with the international gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). The MIPT Terror Knowledge Base gives an overview of them here, and points out the endemic nature of the gang and its widespread population making it difficult if not impossible to eradicate. And as a Landed Permanent Resident of the US, having actual and official US documents and supplementing them with other documents allows him pretty wide travel as seen with the incident in Japan.
So with that side trip to a globe trotting terrorist from al Qaeda, lets now look a bit more at what else there is in the Caribbean to deal with. Coming from a Jamestown article on the JaM trial comes this quick stop on the other groups around TT on 09 MAR 2006:
A key aspect of radical Islam in Trinidad is the Afro-Trinidadian character of organizations such as the Jamaat al-Muslimeen and its numerous offshoots, which include the Wajihatul Islamiyyah (Islamic Front), Jamaat al-Murabiteen (The Almoravids), and Jammat al-Islami al-Karibi (Caribbean Islamic Group).Thus the number of groups is relatively high, given the small area of TT, but they do represent a minority of a minority and when they splinter off they become minor factional groups. As seen with WI, that does not mean they cannot pose a threat. While there are very few, beyond Abu Bakr, that have deep ties with the Middle Eastern/Arab radical Islamic groups, that does not mean that such groups are not interested in TT or the Caribbean basin in general. The ability to get ready access to Latin American Nations, hop borders to escape police, and also utilize Piratical tactics does demonstrate a long-term concern for the US.
Significantly, the above-mentioned groups are led by former protégés of Abu Bakr who parted ways or were expelled from his Jamaat. Abu Bakr's prosecution is unlikely to lead to the end of the Jamaat al-Muslimeen, or the radical current among Afro-Trinidadian Muslim groups in Trinidad more generally, at least in the near-term.
Al-Qaeda in Trinidad?
Trinidadian and international sources often point to the presence of al-Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations in Trinidad and Tobago with the potential to threaten U.S. interests in the Caribbean Basin and Latin America. Due to its lucrative energy reserves and its strategic placement in the Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela, and Muslim minority, part of which has a history of resorting to political violence, many observers believe that Trinidad represents an attractive target for groups such as al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda's documented successes recruiting Muslim converts elsewhere, including Afro-Caribbean converts, is also a point of concern.
The tendency of groups such as Jamaat al-Muslimeen to resort to violence against the state and its rivals and to engage in criminal activities has also led some to worry about the influence of radicals such as Abu Bakr and their potential to collaborate with international terrorist organizations with broader agendas.
In reality, the brand of Islamist radicalism found in Trinidad has so far remained a strictly Trinidadian phenomenon stemming from a narrow fringe of the Muslim community, essentially an outgrowth of the fractured body politic that characterizes Trinidadian politics. The ethnic divide between Trinidad's African and East Indian communities that transcends sectarian affiliation, in addition to the rivalry between the tiny Afro-Trinidadian Muslim minority and Trinidad's influential East Indian Muslim community in particular, goes far in explaining the trajectory of the movement.
Given this background, there is little evidence to suggest that groups such as Jamaat al-Muslimeen or its offshoots in Trinidad represent ideal allies for al-Qaeda, although their documented role in extensive crime should be of concern.
Now for some updates on the individuals involved in the JFK plot!
From 03 JUN 2007 at Bloomberg:
Russell Defreitas, a 63-year-old former Evergreen Airlines cargo worker, was arrested on June 1 in Brooklyn, said New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Defreitas is a U.S. citizen and native of Guyana, a former British colony in South America.Still at large? Well, that is the normal course of affairs in the region, isn't it?
Defreitas, who was alleged to have used his knowledge of the airport to describe its security measures, was arraigned before a Federal magistrate and ordered held until a bail hearing on June 6, said his attorney, Andrew Carter Jr. The lawyer declined further comment.
Held in Trinidad
Abdul Kadir, a former member of Guyana's parliament and Kareem Ibrahim, a man from Trinidad, are being held in Trinidad and will be arraigned there tomorrow, said Assistant Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Greg Andres.
U.S. law enforcement officials didn't release the ages of Kadir and Ibrahim or say if they had been assigned lawyers for their court appearance. Abdul Nur, a citizen of Guyana, is at large in Trinidad or Guyana, authorities said.
From Trinidad & Tobago Express we get this excerpt to add into the mix on 03 JUN 2007:
The two men arrested in Trinidad on Friday, Kareem Ibrahim and Abdul Kadir, are both imams of Shia mosques here and in Guyana respectively.Anyone keeping track of Islamic terrorism will have noted that the actual sect or branch involved does not, necessarily, determine which group is backing another group. Iran's backing of al Qaeda in Iraq and Lebanon, as examples, show that they are more than willing to fund those they disagree with on a limited basis.
A third man, a Guyanese known as Abdul Nur, also a Shia, is on the run and believed to be hiding here.
The United States has issued arrest warrants for all three.
Sources from the Police Special Branch say they are in the "process of trying to determine whether Ibrahim has links to radical Shia groups in the Middle East based on information passed on to us the FBI."
FBI agents are in Trinidad investigating this and other aspects of the case involving Ibrahim and Kadir.
Local police say they were informed by their US counterparts that unlike previous terror plans that involved Sunni Muslims with Al Qaeda links it is the first time that a plot of this kind involving Shias has been uncovered.
From Barbados Nation News on 03 JUN 2007 there is a little to add:
Kadir was arrested around 11 a.m. on Friday at Piarco Airport trying to board a flight to Venezuela, while Ibrahim was held around the same time at his mosque in Tacarigua.Which is pretty much it on the updating part. I am sure that more will come to light over time, as a number of these individuals are of interest as is any connections between them and more established terrorist and/or organized crime syndicates.
Kadir was heading to Iran via Venezuela for an Islamic conference.
Up to yesterday, both men were being questioned by the Special Branch and FBI officers.
The FBI also visited the Jamaat al Muslimeen yesterday as Ibrahim is said to have visited the mosque on "occasion". Ibrahim is not a member of the Jamaat nor affiliated to the Mosque.
Paul confirmed that there was no information linking the Jamaat to the plot.
Ibrahim, 56, is the imam of one of the two leading Shia mosques in Trinidad. He is a father of five.
Still no confirmation of things from the first post and digging isn't getting more. So time to let this simmer, for a bit, although there are *plenty* of outward links that should be tracked down.