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February 2017

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South American drug cartels target GCC

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http://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/crime/south-american-drug-cartels-target-gcc

Narco-terrorists have established routes through West Africa to emerging markets in the region and Asia.

The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from suspected heroin overdose may have thrown the spotlight on drugs, but narco-terrorism is the larger concern for security agencies around the world, including the UAE and other GCC countries.

A leading security expert has revealed that Latin American cartels entrenched in Africa are eyeing the GCC for supplying and trafficking in narcotics. They also seek to launder their dirty money from the drug trade in the region as the zero tax regime aids their operations.

Narco-terrorism refers to the nexus between drug cartels, transnational criminal organisations and terrorist groups.

“In the last 10 years, drug cartels from South America have increased their presence and operations in West Africa to secure the movement of drugs (mostly cocaine) to markets in Europe, and the emerging markets in Asia and the Middle East,” said Johan Obdola, President of the International Organisation for Security and Intelligence, which advises governments on how to tackle the scourge.

Latin American drug cartels and terrorist groups, including Colombia’s Farc rebels, Mexican drug organisations like ‘Zetas’ and El Chapo Guzman are actively involved in Africa, mainly in West Africa. He said these cartels were hoping to establish themselves in the Middle East and Asia.

“We are identifying the new routes that narco-terrorist groups are developing and operating between South America — specifically Brazil and Argentina — to the GCC region, mainly Qatar, with ramifications in the UAE,” said Obdola, a former Venezuelan police commissioner, who now lives in Canada.

He said these organised groups were already in “their second stage of their operations”. They are keen to use the UAE as a hub for drug trafficking and money laundering. The bigger concern was that they were working on all fronts to establish a demand for their products in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, he said.

“Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Currently, Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago are nations where well-organised narco-terrorist groups are developing their routes to the GCC region and Asia,” he said.

Last week, Colonel Saeed Al Suwaidi, Director-General of the UAE’s Federal Anti-Narcotics Agency in the Ministry of Interior, said 11 tonnes of narcotics were seized in 2013. The Ministry of Interior also said assets and money of those involved in the sale of drugs and associated with money laundering would be confiscated.

There is no evidence that the banned Muslim Brotherhood is benefiting from the drugs trade, but Obdola added that Al Qaeda was spreading its tentacles in Latin America. “There are confirmed operatives in Brazil, Colombia and other nations, including some countries in Central America (Honduras and Mexico). Al Qaeda members are also doing business with Colombian drug cartels and the Farc rebels.”

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Hezbollah and other groups are increasingly active in Latin America and Mexico, and cocaine trade is a very important financial support.

Obdola said the GCC and UAE have two main fronts in the fight against narco-terror emerging from Latin America via Africa, and from Afghanistan.

“The narcotics industry, with the involvement of organised criminals, drug cartels and terrorist groups are establishing a strategically sound alliance for financial and even political gain,” he said.

Latin American drug networks are structured for money laundering and local consumption of drugs based on demand. These cartels also have the discreet ability and financial heft to spark off corruption and infiltrate private corporates, and transport, logistics, and security units.

Investments are made in real state, front businesses, transportation and other sectors as well.

The UAE police and security agencies have done good work in the areas of enforcement and intelligence to counter the illegal drug trade. They are engaging with communities to gather local intelligence and are also working with agencies globally to provide the best response against the phenomenon.

allan@khaleejtimes.com

The Latin American connection

Amira Agarib

Security officials in the UAE have confirmed the South American link to narcotics smuggling and established crime in the region. Lieutenant-General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of Police and Security in Dubai, speaking to Khaleej Times, said there has been an increase in drug-related activity from Latin America where traffickers exploit Africans and Asians, including women.

According to Dubai Police statistics, there has been an increase in smuggling of cocaine and heroin from Latin America to Africa, GCC and other countries via the Dubai International Airport. The drugs haul represents 75 per cent of all drug seizures at Dubai Airports.

“Drug traffickers not only break anti-drug laws but also laws governing financial institutions. It’s an established network where they rope in local criminals and anti-social elements — bribery and blackmailing are common in their modus operandi,” he said.

Investigations have shown that drug traffickers are actively targeting countries facing political unrest to channel their illegal substances. He said youth unemployment has become a concern and many young people are taking to drugs to escape from their misery.

“People are exploited because of their circumstances by these large cartels who use closer geographical locations, porous borders and lack of effective legislation to promote drugs.”

“There is a relationship between international drug smuggling and the growth of money laundering which is then channelled into other nefarious activities,” Lt-Gen Khalfan said. He called it a vicious cycle where high demand for substances led to increased production which, in turn, creates more markets.

author

Allan Jacob

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Indonesia Tracks, Freezes Terrorism Funds from Overseas

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http://www.benarnews.org/english/news/indonesian/terror-funds-12302015163812.html

Indonesia’s Financial Transaction and Analysis Center (PPATK) claims it has tracked about 5 billion rupiah (U.S. $365,000) in money sent to Indonesia from sources in Australia for use by terrorists.

The center joined forces with its counterpart in neighboring Australia, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) to uncover the illicit flow of cash destined for terrorist cells in Indonesia, according to Agus Santoso, deputy director of the PPATK, the Indonesian anti-money laundering agency.

“Through our cooperation, we found a link of the flow of funds between suspected terrorist networks in Indonesia and Australia,” Agus told BenarNews on Wednesday.

Some of the funds were collected from Australian citizens who were not aware that their donations would be used to support terrorists, he said.

PPATK chairman Muhammad Yusuf said Australian donors were told that the funds would go toward a foundation or to aid an individual starting a business.

“From their perspective, they are providing humanitarian assistance, not funding terrorist activities,” Yusuf said.

PPTAK also reported that it had frozen 26 bank accounts valued at more than 2 billion rupiahs (about U.S. $152,000) in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions against terrorism that require all member states to freeze assets related with al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Because of these efforts, the 36-member Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) in June removed Indonesia from its blacklist of countries that did not adhere to the implementation of U.N. resolutions along with its own recommendations.

“What PPATK is doing is following the money flows and the results of our analysis aid Densus 88 as it tracks suspected terrorists,” Agus said, referring to Indonesia’s elite police counter-terrorist unit.

According to Agus, terrorist networks operate businesses ranging from chemical stores, herbal medicine shops, car showrooms to bookstores.

“The funds generated from the businesses may not necessarily directly be used to support terrorist-related activities but, in tracking several layers, we can see that the funds are allegedly used to support terrorism,” he said.

Generally, terrorist groups use the money to buy weapons and explosives, conduct training and pay for living expenses of widows and families of slain terrorists, Agus added.

Need to be careful

Jakarta-based terrorism expert Rakyan Adibrata, however, said Indonesia should be careful that it did not freeze accounts established to provide humanitarian assistance in conflict zones such as in Syria or Iraq.

“Some humanitarian groups have to spend time and make contact with radical groups or insurgents because they conduct humanitarian operations in the area of where radical groups exist,” Rakyan said. “But if it is clearly related to terrorism, such accounts deserve to be frozen,” he said.

High terrorist threat

The revelation of the alleged financial pipeline for terrorists came nine days after Indonesia and Australia announced a joint agreement to share intelligence in combatting terrorism.

Information from Australian federal police also helped Indonesian authorities recently arrest nine suspects, including some with alleged ties to the Islamic State (IS) extremist group. According to Indonesian police, the suspects were plotting year-end terrorist attacks in Indonesia.

The nation has since been put on a high state of alert.

In 2015, police prevented nine terror plots and arrested 74 people linked to terrorist activities, said National Police Chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti.

In his year-end report issued on Tuesday, Badrodin said that cases against 65 of those in custody were on-going, but nine suspects were released because of lack of evidence.

Since 2000, police have tracked down about 1,000 suspected terrorists, he said. Of that total, 299 offenders have been sentenced, three were executed, 12 people killed themselves in suicide bombings, and 104 were killed during the raids.

Because of the continued funding to support alleged terrorist activities, police expect such threats to remain high in 2016.

El Cártel de Sinaloa y las FARC trafican drogas al Medio Oriente

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https://dialogo-americas.com/es/articles/el-cartel-de-sinaloa-y-las-farc-trafican-drogas-al-medio-oriente

Los grupos de narcotráfico de América Latina también están lavando millones de dólares de sus ganancias en los países del Medio Oriente
Julieta Pelcastre | 11 abril 2014
Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), el Cártel de Sinaloa, Los Zetas y otras organizaciones delictivas transnacionales de América Latina trafican grandes cantidades de drogas a los Emiratos Árabes Unidos (EAU) y a otros países del Medio Oriente, según el Teniente General Dhahi Khalfan Tamin, subjefe de la Fuerza Policiaca de Dubai.

Los grupos de narcotráfico de América Latina también están lavando millones de dólares de sus ganancias en los países del Medio Oriente, dijo Nestor Rosanía, director del Centro de Estudios en Seguridad, Defensa y Asuntos Internacionales (CESDAI) de Colombia.

Los traficantes de drogas de México, Colombia y otros países están buscando nuevos mercados para las drogas, comentó Raúl Benítez, analista de seguridad de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).

Los cárteles de drogas buscan nuevos mercados

Para maximizar sus ganancias, los traficantes de drogas mexicanos y sudamericanos siempre están en busca de nuevos mercados, señaló Benítez.

“Las organizaciones delictivas colombianas están buscando mercados y rutas seguras porque los cárteles mexicanos ya no son confiables como intermediarios, desde que el gobierno mexicano los ha enfrentado ocasionándoles fuertes golpes”, afirmó el analista de seguridad.

Los narcotraficantes de Latinoamérica han forjado alianzas con grupos del crimen organizado del Medio Oriente, añadió Benítez.

Las FARC, el Cártel de Sinaloa, Los Zetas y otras organizaciones delictivas transnacionales están utilizando a los EAU como centro estratégico para el tráfico de drogas y el lavado de dinero, comentó Johan Obdola, presidente de la Organización Internacional para la Seguridad e Inteligencia, a Khaleej Times. Obdola asesora a los gobiernos del Medio Oriente sobre cómo combatir al narcotráfico.

Las organizaciones delictivas transnacionales sudamericanas y mexicanas han incrementado sus operaciones en el Medio Oriente con el paso del tiempo, dijo Obdola. En los últimos 10 años, los cárteles de drogas han incrementado sus operaciones en África Occidental. Desde esa región, los traficantes de drogas han estado transportando grandes cantidades de drogas al Medio Oriente, comentó Obdola.

La política de cero impuestos de los países miembros del Consejo de Cooperación del Golfo (CCG) hace atractivos a esos países para los narcotraficantes que están buscando lugares para lavar las ganancias de sus negocios de drogas. El CCG está compuesto por los EAU, Arabia Saudita, Bahrein, Kuwait, Qatar y Omán.

Los grupos del crimen organizado localizados en Brasil, Uruguay, El Salvador, Venezuela y Trinidad y Tobago también están buscando nuevas rutas para el tráfico de drogas en la región del CCG, dijeron las autoridades.

Grandes decomisos de drogas

Las autoridades del Medio Oriente han realizado una serie de importantes decomisos de drogas en los últimos meses.

Por ejemplo, los servicios de seguridad de Líbano decomisaron 13 kilos de cocaína en un avión comercial que salió de Brasil. El avión hizo escala en Qatar antes de aterrizar en Líbano.

Las fuerzas de seguridad de Arabia Saudita confiscaron un paquete enviado desde América del Sur que contenía 152 gramos de cocaína, de acuerdo conl reporte de 2013 de la Junta Internacional de Fiscalización de Estupefacientes (JIFE).

Las fuerzas de seguridad de los EAU confiscaron 11 toneladas de drogas en 2013, según los oficiales de la Agencia Federal Antinarcóticos de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos.

En 2013, las fuerzas de seguridad de Irán, Pakistán, Omán y los EAU han realizado cada uno por su parte decomisos de drogas de más de 10 toneladas, en grandes embarcaciones, según la Oficina de las Naciones Unidas contra la Droga y el Delito (ONUDD).

Los narcotraficantes de Latinoamérica “no sólo violan las leyes de estupefacientes, sino también las leyes que rigen a las instituciones financieras”, comentó el Teniente General Tamin, subjefe de la Fuerza Policiaca de Dubai, al sitio web Flarenetwork.org.

Cerca del 75% de las drogas incautadas en el Medio Oriente fueron enviadas desde Brasil, de acuerdo con los reportes publicados.

Grandes ganancias

Los grupos del crimen organizado pueden generar grandes ganancias traficando drogas al Medio Oriente. Un kilo de cocaína puede venderse por hasta $90,000 (USD) en el Medio Oriente. En comparación, la misma cantidad de cocaína podría venderse en $30,000 (USD) en los Estados Unidos, reportó La Nación.

El incremento del narcotráfico en el Medio Oriente ha llevado a un mayor número de arrestos por esta actividad, dijeron las autoridades.

Por ejemplo, casi el 90% de los presos en los EAU fueron arrestados por delitos relacionados con las drogas, de acuerdo con un estudio reciente de la Organización de Detenidos del Reino Unido realizado en Dubai.

“Los cárteles de drogas en América Latina están descentralizando sus actividades cada vez más. La atomización de las pandillas de narcotraficantes se ha hecho más dinámica. Existen minicárteles que operan de forma independiente”, dijo Rosanía, el analista de seguridad del CESDAI.

Los niveles más altos del narcotráfico en Medio Oriente podrían conducir a la violencia del crimen organizado, según Rosanía.

“El Medio Oriente se ha convertido en una ruta estratégica para los grupos delictivos transnacionales para trasladar las drogas; el que tenga el control de los puntos de distribución, ubicación y compra y venta de drogas, es el que va a tener el poder y el que va a generar violencia”, comentó Rosanía.

Iniciativa de seguridad

En 2013, las autoridades inauguraron el Centro de Información del Delito en Doha, Qatar, para coordinar la lucha contra el narcotráfico en la región del CCG. El centro fue abierto para maximizar la cooperación entre las fuerzas de seguridad de diferentes países, dijeron los funcionarios. Las fuerzas de seguridad comparten información sobre investigaciones y las actividades de los traficantes de drogas, dijeron las autoridades.

El centro ha firmado un acuerdo de cooperación con la Organización Internacional de Policía Criminal (INTERPOL), la Oficina de Enlace de Inteligencia Regional para el Medio Oriente de la Organización Mundial de Aduanas y el Instituto de Formación de la Policía del Ministerio del Interior de Qatar.

Los países del Medio Oriente han estado trabajando con agencias de todo el mundo para combatir las amenazas del narcotráfico. La cooperación internacional es importante en la lucha contra las organizaciones criminales transnacionales, agregó Rosanía.

Las autoridades del Medio Oriente necesitan “entender la forma en que cambian y se adaptan los cárteles de Latinoamérica, cómo enfrentarse a las estructuras criminales dentro de sus capacidades y cómo entrenar a sus fuerzas de seguridad para combatir el narcotráfico”, señaló Rosanía.

“Hay países que han enfrentado conflictos raciales, étnicos o religiosos, pero no a los cárteles de drogas”, concluyó Rosanía.

Fom left to right, Chief of Indonesian National Police Gen. Badrodin Haiti, Australian Attorney General George BrandisI, Indonesian top security minister Luhut Panjaitan, Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan and the head of Indonesia's State Intelligence Agency Sutiyoso pose for the media during a joint press conference after their meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015. Indonesian police say they have foiled a suspected Muslim militant’s plot to carry out attacks during the year-end holiday season with help from the information from the U.S., Australian and Singaporean intelligence. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

News analysis: Between threat of radicalized IS supporters and homegrown terrorists

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http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/12/25/news-analysis-between-threat-radicalized-is-supporters-and-homegrown-terrorists.html

 

The influence of the Islamic State (IS) in Indonesia has become more apparent along with the rapid increase of radicalization within society since IS declared a caliphate in June 2014, the year that marked the rise of one of the most deadliest terror groups ever to exist.

By December 2015, about 800 Indonesians had been reported to have departed for Syria and Iraq, with 169 people being caught on the Turkey-Syria border and deported by the Turkish government, before these potential foreign fighters had the chance to join IS, according to the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT).

However, the exact number of radicalized Indonesians returning from the conflict zones before Joko “Jokowi” Widodo took over the presidency on Oct. 20, 2014, is unknown. The former administration failed to keep track of Indonesians departing to join IS after the group announced that it would restore Allah’s rule on Earth through sharia.

Over the weekend, the National Police’s Densus 88 counterterrorism squad seized bomb-making equipment and arrested nine people across Java who were suspected of being among the more than 1,000 local IS supporters allegedly planning to attack government officials, including Jokowi and minority Shiite Muslims.

One of the homegrown terrorist groups, the Santoso-led East Indonesia Mujahidin based in Poso, Central Sulawesi, still poses a major threat to the government as the group was responsible for the killing of several police officers and local farmers in 2015 and has pledge allegiance to IS.

With national security at stake, counterterrorism forces are stepping up measures to protect the nation against possible militant attacks that have the potential to plunge the nation into violence.

Homegrown terrorist groups versus radicalized returnees

The history of homegrown radical Islamic groups dates back to the late 1940s, when Kartosuwiryo led the Islamic State of Indonesia (NII) movement, a radical group that led to the formation of the al-Qaeda affiliated Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) in 1993, a group responsible for the deadly 2002 Bali bombings.

Cracking down: Densus 88 counterterrorism squad members stand guard outside the residence of an alleged Islamic State movement supporter in South Tangerang, Banten, on Sunday. The police’s special force also arrested another four suspects in South Jakarta, Bekasi and Cibubur, West Java. JP/DONCracking down: Densus 88 counterterrorism squad members stand guard outside the residence of an alleged Islamic State movement supporter in South Tangerang, Banten, on Sunday. The police’s special force also arrested another four suspects in South Jakarta, Bekasi and Cibubur, West Java. JP/DON

Since JI’s charismatic leader Abu Bakar Ba’asyir was arrested in August 2010, experts believe that younger JI members separated from the group when senior members decided to lie low, as they believed that Indonesia was no longer a land for jihad.

This led to the rise of the East Indonesia Mujahidin – a terrorist group that allegedly created terror in Poso – led by the former JI members who are presently being hunted by 1,500 security personnel.

“From the perspective of human safety, the most dangerous are homegrown terrorist groups,” terrorist expert Rakyan Adibrata told thejakartapost.com.

With the threat of radicalized Indonesian returnees increasing over the past few months, Rakyan said it was actually homegrown terrorist groups that had initially spread radical ideology among members, leading them to depart as foreign terrorist fighters for IS only to return to be a threat to the nation.

Mujahidin shares the same vision as IS to establish an Islamic caliphate. However, Rakyan said, there was still romanticism among the group’s members about establishing their own caliphate in Poso as it was the location where they had previously been trained by al-Qaeda and the place where Santoso ran an extremist training camp.

Meanwhile, a terrorist expert from Yayasan Prasasti Perdamaian (YPP), Taufik Andrie, said radicalized Indonesian returnees posed a bigger threat to the nation as they could contribute to capacity building, networking and persuading homegrown terrorist groups to support IS.

Even though many homegrown terrorist groups such as Mujahidin promote dangerous ideology that includes use of violence to achieve their means, Taufik said that unlike IS, which hated all Western-influenced systems, these groups’ bigger enemies were mainly police and law enforcers.

“In Poso, like the Santoso-led group, they are more contextual as the group consists of people who have been involved in conflicts and suffered from injustice and violence,” Taufik said.

Similarly, a terrorist expert and former NII member, Al-Chaidar, said that besides fighting in its own way to establish a caliphate, Mujahidin was formed to take revenge for predecessor who were attacked by police and law enforcers during a Muslim-Christian conflict in Poso that claimed the lives of at least 1,000 people from 1998 to 2002.

“Mujahidin members still hold grudge toward Christians. They have not departed for Syria, but they are IS supports who are spread across Indonesia,” Al-Chaidar said.

Home to various radical Islamic groups, Indonesia has experienced terrorist attacks targeting public places for more than a decade. Since the deadly Bali attack, the police have managed to counter and destroy homegrown militant cells. However, the rise of IS has brought new challenges for them to improve their counterterrorism strategy once more.

Re-thinking new approaches to counter radicalization

During Jokowi’s presidency, the BNPT has adopted a softer de-radicalization approach to curb terrorism by emphasizing dialogue with captured or potential terrorists to reverse their radical thinking as it is believed to be more effective in countering the spread of radical ideology.

Fom left to right, Chief of Indonesian National Police Gen. Badrodin Haiti, Australian Attorney General George BrandisI, Indonesian top security minister Luhut Panjaitan, Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan and the head of Indonesia’s State Intelligence Agency Sutiyoso pose for the media during a joint press conference after their meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015. Indonesian police say they have foiled a suspected Muslim militant’€™s plot to carry out attacks during the year-end holiday season with help from the information from the U.S., Australian and Singaporean intelligence. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

The influence of the Islamic State (IS) in Indonesia has become more apparent along with the rapid increase of radicalization within society since IS declared a caliphate in June 2014, the year that marked the rise of one of the most deadliest terror groups ever to exist.

By December 2015, about 800 Indonesians had been reported to have departed for Syria and Iraq, with 169 people being caught on the Turkey-Syria border and deported by the Turkish government, before these potential foreign fighters had the chance to join IS, according to the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT).

However, the exact number of radicalized Indonesians returning from the conflict zones before Joko “Jokowi” Widodo took over the presidency on Oct. 20, 2014, is unknown. The former administration failed to keep track of Indonesians departing to join IS after the group announced that it would restore Allah’s rule on Earth through sharia.

Over the weekend, the National Police’s Densus 88 counterterrorism squad seized bomb-making equipment and arrested nine people across Java who were suspected of being among the more than 1,000 local IS supporters allegedly planning to attack government officials, including Jokowi and minority Shiite Muslims.

One of the homegrown terrorist groups, the Santoso-led East Indonesia Mujahidin based in Poso, Central Sulawesi, still poses a major threat to the government as the group was responsible for the killing of several police officers and local farmers in 2015 and has pledge allegiance to IS.

With national security at stake, counterterrorism forces are stepping up measures to protect the nation against possible militant attacks that have the potential to plunge the nation into violence.

Homegrown terrorist groups versus radicalized returnees

The history of homegrown radical Islamic groups dates back to the late 1940s, when Kartosuwiryo led the Islamic State of Indonesia (NII) movement, a radical group that led to the formation of the al-Qaeda affiliated Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) in 1993, a group responsible for the deadly 2002 Bali bombings.

Cracking down: Densus 88 counterterrorism squad members stand guard outside the residence of an alleged Islamic State movement supporter in South Tangerang, Banten, on Sunday. The police'€™s special force also arrested another four suspects in South Jakarta, Bekasi and Cibubur, West Java. JP/DONCracking down: Densus 88 counterterrorism squad members stand guard outside the residence of an alleged Islamic State movement supporter in South Tangerang, Banten, on Sunday. The police’€™s special force also arrested another four suspects in South Jakarta, Bekasi and Cibubur, West Java. JP/DON

Since JI’s charismatic leader Abu Bakar Ba’asyir was arrested in August 2010, experts believe that younger JI members separated from the group when senior members decided to lie low, as they believed that Indonesia was no longer a land for jihad.

This led to the rise of the East Indonesia Mujahidin – a terrorist group that allegedly created terror in Poso – led by the former JI members who are presently being hunted by 1,500 security personnel.

“From the perspective of human safety, the most dangerous are homegrown terrorist groups,” terrorist expert Rakyan Adibrata told thejakartapost.com.

With the threat of radicalized Indonesian returnees increasing over the past few months, Rakyan said it was actually homegrown terrorist groups that had initially spread radical ideology among members, leading them to depart as foreign terrorist fighters for IS only to return to be a threat to the nation.

Mujahidin shares the same vision as IS to establish an Islamic caliphate. However, Rakyan said, there was still romanticism among the group’s members about establishing their own caliphate in Poso as it was the location where they had previously been trained by al-Qaeda and the place where Santoso ran an extremist training camp.

Meanwhile, a terrorist expert from Yayasan Prasasti Perdamaian (YPP), Taufik Andrie, said radicalized Indonesian returnees posed a bigger threat to the nation as they could contribute to capacity building, networking and persuading homegrown terrorist groups to support IS.

Even though many homegrown terrorist groups such as Mujahidin promote dangerous ideology that includes use of violence to achieve their means, Taufik said that unlike IS, which hated all Western-influenced systems, these groups’ bigger enemies were mainly police and law enforcers.

“In Poso, like the Santoso-led group, they are more contextual as the group consists of people who have been involved in conflicts and suffered from injustice and violence,” Taufik said.

Similarly, a terrorist expert and former NII member, Al-Chaidar, said that besides fighting in its own way to establish a caliphate, Mujahidin was formed to take revenge for predecessor who were attacked by police and law enforcers during a Muslim-Christian conflict in Poso that claimed the lives of at least 1,000 people from 1998 to 2002.

“Mujahidin members still hold grudge toward Christians. They have not departed for Syria, but they are IS supports who are spread across Indonesia,” Al-Chaidar said.

Home to various radical Islamic groups, Indonesia has experienced terrorist attacks targeting public places for more than a decade. Since the deadly Bali attack, the police have managed to counter and destroy homegrown militant cells. However, the rise of IS has brought new challenges for them to improve their counterterrorism strategy once more.

Re-thinking new approaches to counter radicalization

During Jokowi’s presidency, the BNPT has adopted a softer de-radicalization approach to curb terrorism by emphasizing dialogue with captured or potential terrorists to reverse their radical thinking as it is believed to be more effective in countering the spread of radical ideology.

Members of Indonesian Police bomb squad search for suspicious materials as they anticipate terror attacks prior to the Christmas Eve mass at the Cathedral in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, Dec. 24,2015. The Indonesian government has deployed around 150,000 security personnel across the country to safeguard churches,airports and other public places, as officials believe a credible threat of terrorist attacks remains in the year-end holiday season in this predominantly Muslim nation, especially against minority Christians. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

However in Rakyan’s view, the government should try a new approach by adopting psychological and medical perspectives to better assess the thinking of radicalized Indonesian returnees, as they share similarities with soldiers newly returned from conflict zones and suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“While soldiers may kill themselves or shoot a friend, a jihadist who suffers from PTSD may think his home country is enemy territory and everything before his eyes should be killed,” Rakyan said.

Similarly, Taufik said that both radicalized Indonesian returnees who had been deported back home and IS supports who could not depart to join IS might experience frustration as they did not get the chance to wage jihad in Syria, resulting in the potential spreading of radical ideology or activities.

“They become a threat because they can move freely among citizens,” Taufik said.

A similar approach should be implemented by the BNPT to counter the intensified dissemination of terrorist groups’ propaganda through the internet and social media, Rakyan said, as the current counter-narrative measures taken by the BNPT through its online platform called “Peaceful Year in Cyberspace” had been deemed weak and ineffective in preventing radicalization.

According to Rakyan, counter-narrative measures against the IS campaign in Indonesia were instead actively taken by other radical groups that are against forming an IS caliphate, such as Jabhat al-Nusra and senior members of JI who were against IS but still wanted to establish a caliphate in Indonesia.

“In the end, this will bring much the same result. Either members of the public who empathize with IS will not believe the group anymore or they will join Jabhat al-Nusra or other non-IS rebels,” said Rakyan.

Indonesia should engage moderate groups to actively take counter-narrative measures in their respective areas, Rakyan said, while at the same time cooperate with internet service providers to tackle radicalization through the internet.

Australia adopted this method, Rakyan said, as the government engaged all moderate groups in the country to create counter-narrative measures in cooperation with giant search engine Google and it had been very effective in curbing the spread of radical ideology.

“When people search keywords related to IS and other radical groups, page 1 and 2 in Google will display counter-narrative measures instead of information on those groups,” said Rakyan.

Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) director Sidney Jones also told thejakartapost.com recently that various radical media outlets disseminated IS propaganda by re-making videos or audio statements in Indonesian and spreading the links through the internet every day, making effective use of Indonesia as the fourth leading Facebook user in the world with over 84 percent of users active Twitter users by 2014.

BNPT deputy for international relations Insp. Gen. Petrus Reinhard Golose said he had addressed this issue, adding that the counter-terrorism body looked forward to cooperating with other countries to closely monitor websites in order to curb the spread of radicalism through the internet.

Potential radical group attacks, new method adopted

With IS now having thousands of supporters across Indonesia as well as other radical groups such as Mujahidin, experts have warned that the threat of terrorist attacks in December 2015 could be bigger and different from previous years.

Fleeing in fear: This image made from video taken in August last year shows Iraqis from the Yazidi community arriving in Irbil in northern Iraq after Islamic militants attacked the towns of Sinjar and Zunmar. Around 40,000 people crossed the bridge of Shela in Fishkhabur into the Northern Kurdish Region of Iraq, after being given an ultimatum by Islamic militants to convert to Islam, pay a security tax, leave their homes, or die. (Poto: AP)

Taufik said that while previously churches and Christian groups were the main targets of radical Islamic groups, threats of terrorist attacks this year were posed by more diverse groups that had different views of perceived enemies, as there were those who intended to attack government officials and minority Shiite Muslims also.

Counterterrorism forces succeeded in arresting nine suspected Muslim militants who were allegedly planning bomb attacks in towns across Java last weekend, with four of them suspected of being JI members.

However, as the National Police spokesperson said the force had captured “only subordinates” of a network of IS supporters, Taufik said supporters who escaped the raids could be more dangerous as they would strive to finish what their accomplices started.

“Right now the threats are IS supporters and those affiliated with Aman Abdurahman [vocal Indonesian promoter of IS],” said Taufik.

Meanwhile, Rakyan warned that IS might launch sporadic attacks instead of centralized bombings, with possible active shooters assigned to create terror in public places or at religious sites.

Citing the Paris attack, the deadliest attack on French soil since World War II that IS claimed responsibility for, Rakyan said that simultaneous coordinated terrorist attacks could become a rather effective method to distract government and security officials.

“Imagine five shooters at five malls in Jakarta and mass shootings happening simultaneously. This is a bigger danger and would create mass fear equal to that caused by the Paris attack and Bali bombings,” said Rakyan.

Even though the trade-off between security and human rights is often debated, Rakyan said that in order to strengthen early detection capabilities, people entering malls, airports and other public places should be thoroughly searched.

Meanwhile in Poso, Al-Chaidar said the East Indonesia Mujahidin members were likely to launch terrorist attacks during Christmas, even though the scale might not be large as they would try to avoid detection as security officials hunt for their leader, Santoso.

However, Al-Chaidar said that Mujahidin’s threat to attack National Police headquarters and the State Palace was a bluff, as it was a method it often used to divert attention.

“In the past, Mujahidin once threatened to attack Makassar, but it ended up attacking the Poso police,” said Al-Chaidar.

In order to ensure safe Christmas and New Year celebrations, the National Police have deployed 150,000 officers to safe-guard churches and other public places around the country, as well as strengthen security and surveillance in a number of areas to prevent terrorist attacks.

“The government’s preparations [to secure Christmas and New Year] are sufficient, but still we need to encourage members of the public to report anything suspicious to security officials,” Rakyan added. (dan)

Mitos y realidades sobre el Cartel de los soles en Venezuela

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Mitos y realidades sobre el Cartel de los soles en Venezuela

 

Desde el año 2004 en Venezuela se comenta con insistencia que la principal banda de traficantes de drogas no es un grupo delictivo como podríamos imaginarlo según los patrones de Estados Unidos, con las “familias” de la Cosa Nostra americana; o de Colombia, con los carteles de Medellín, la Guajira, Cali o más recientemente del Norte del Valle. En el caso venezolano, esta actividad ilícita estaría dominada por un conjunto de oficiales generales activos de la Fuerza Armada Nacional. Es por esta razón que ha sido denominado el Cartel de los Soles.

El origen de este nombre tan peculiar es incierto. La primera vez que se escuchó fue antes del gobierno de Hugo Chávez, para designar a los generales de la Guardia Nacional (GN) implicados en la llamada Operación Norte, en específico a los exjefes del comando antidrogas Ramón Guillén Dávila y Orlando Hernández Villegas. Ambos fueron procesados por tráfico de drogas y sobreseídos en 1993 por el entonces presidente Carlos Andrés Pérez antes de que hubiese sentencia firme. Como los dos oficiales eran generales de brigada, el grupo fue llamado Cartel del Sol, en singular.

Cuatro años después, con Rafael Caldera en el poder, el tema resurgió en el debate público a propósito de una investigación desarrollada por la Dirección de Inteligencia Militar (DIM) contra un grupo de militares que supuestamente traficaba drogas en los estados Monagas y Anzoátegui, en complicidad con un sujeto llamado Pedro Antero Gerinho. Curiosamente, el instructor y principal denunciante de este caso fue el mismo que ocasionalmente había participado en la averiguación contra Guillén Dávila. Se trataba del abogado y coronel asimilado al Ejército Claudio Turchetti.

Lo único que este caso tenía en común con el primero era que algunos de sus implicados formaban parte de la GN. No obstante, en el segundo expediente había también una mezcla de funcionarios de distintas policías con agentes de la DIM, la Disip (policía política, actual Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia, Sebin) y prominentes empresarios. Además, nunca pudo implicarse a un oficial con grado superior al de teniente coronel.

¿Cómo era posible que se pudiese hablar del mismo “cartel” pero con distintos actores, algunos de los cuales ni siquiera llenaban el requisito de ser generales? La pesquisa sobre el Cartel del Sol dio origen a un expediente militar que se diluyó en 2001 en una maraña de incidencias legales entre la Corte Marcial y el Tribunal Supremo de Justicia. Los tribunales simplemente no dieron crédito a la tesis del coronel Turchetti. El régimen, además, no le tenía simpatía, pues fue él quien años atrás había revelado el video en el que Hugo Chávez, recién salido de la cárcel de Yare gracias al indulto concedido por Caldera, era recibido en Cuba con honores dignos de un jefe de Estado.

En septiembre de 2000, cuando ya conocía que la batalla estaba perdida, Turchetti envió una carta al presidente para advertirle sobre “un grupo que pretende enquistarse en su gobierno, vinculado al narcotráfico”. La organización, por supuesto, estaba conformada mayoritariamente por militares, cuyos nombres no precisó en esa comunicación.

La historia sobre el Cartel del Sol pasó a segundo plano hasta febrero de 2004, cuando una comisión de la Brigada de Acciones Especiales de la policía judicial mató a Eudo González Polanco en una finca de Tocuyito, estado Carabobo. Este hombre era hermano de Hermágoras González Polanco (alias Armando González Apushana), señalado como líder del cartel de la Guajira en Venezuela, quien fue capturado en 2008 y todavía permanece en calidad de procesado en un calabozo del Sebin.

Entre las pertenencias de Eudo González hallaron un carnet que lo identificaba como comisario ad honorem de la GN, firmado por el general de brigada Alexis Maneiro Gómez, quien fue jefe del Servicio de Inteligencia y del Comando Regional 7, precisamente el que tiene jurisdicción sobre los estados Anzoátegui y Monagas. Este hecho ameritó la investigación de una comisión parlamentaria, que recomendó la inmediata destitución del alto oficial.

Hasta ese momento los conflictos en este grupo se mantenían con cierta contención, es decir, las víctimas eran siempre miembros o rivales de las distintas organizaciones. Pero en septiembre de ese año las cosas cambiaron. Ocurrió en Venezuela la primera muerte a manos de sicarios de un activista político ligado estrechamente a los medios de comunicación en Maturín. El locutor Mauro Marcano fue ultimado en el estacionamiento de su residencia cuando se disponía a ir a la radio donde moderaba un programa que se había convertido en tribuna para denunciar la corrupción militar asociada al tráfico de drogas. Precisamente en vísperas de su asesinato Marcano había ofrecido divulgar los nombres de los oficiales que dominaban este comercio en la región oriental.

Las investigaciones de la policía judicial apuntaron hacia José Ceferino García, alias el Indio, un hombre con amplios antecedentes por tráfico de psicotrópicos. Su nombre fue conocido inicialmente en el gobierno de Rafael Caldera, debido a las denuncias de un delegado de la Comisión Nacional contra el Uso Ilícito de las Drogas (Conacuid) para Delta Amacuro, Armando Johan Obdola. Debido a ellas el funcionario tuvo que solicitar refugio en Canadá, donde vive actualmente.

Cartel o no cartel

En julio de 2005 The Miami Herald publicó una nota en la que ya se habla de la existencia de “un grupo de contrabandistas de drogas conocido como el Cartel de los Soles, por las insignias de los generales venezolanos”. Esa expresión era atribuida a un diplomático destacado en el país, cuyo nombre no fue divulgado. La historia cobraba fuerza en virtud de los casos recientes del general Maneiro, de Mauro Marcano, y también por la presunta participación de generales del Ejército.

¿Es correcta la expresión de cartel para referirse a esta supuesta organización de oficiales? Brand (1984) explica que un cartel es “un grupo de empresas que acuerda fijar mutuamente precios aceptables para sus productos, lo cual frecuentemente es acompañado por cuotas de producción y de inversión”. Esta definición de la ciencia económica fue trasladada al mundo de la investigación criminal para designar al producto del acuerdo o colusión de productores de una mercancía ilegal para controlar su oferta y, por ende, sus precios (Smith et al., 1993). En América los únicos carteles propiamente dichos han sido en primer término los de Medellín y Cali, que llegaron a controlar hasta el 70% de la producción mundial de cocaína, y posteriormente las FARC, con una participación mucho menor en el mercado. Antes, con la “bonanza marimbera”, no existía esa figura sino la de múltiples productores y ofertantes.

La noción de cartel aplicada a este ámbito de conocimiento ha sido cuestionada, debido a que no toma en cuenta la realidad cambiante de los mercados ilegales. El grupo de los antioqueños liderado por Pablo Escobar, Carlos Lehder, los hermanos Ochoa y José Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha apenas gozó de hegemonía en el mercado de las drogas durante un lustro, y ya para 1985 competía con una lista de organizaciones que tenían participación en este comercio.

Entonces, trasladar el concepto de cartel al ámbito de los generales venezolanos es un error. Por un lado, porque en el país no se producen drogas y, en consecuencia, los oficiales no podrían llegar a acuerdos que regulen sus precios, tal y como lo hacían los “narcos” de Medellín. Por otro lado, los carteles tienen una estructura interna más o menos estable. Sus líderes tienen la pretensión de permanecer en el tiempo. Es posible que sean sustituidos por la fuerza debido a pugnas intestinas o por conflictos con las autoridades u otras organizaciones delictivas. Incluso, en la circunstancia de que alguno de sus miembros sea encarcelado, el liderazgo del cartel intenta preservarse. Ejemplo claro de esto fue la experiencia de Pablo Escobar durante los últimos años de su vida.

En el caso venezolano sería pertinente otro tipo de análisis. Si una parte del generalato venezolano se ha corrompido de forma profunda, concertada y continuada, sería posible estudiar el asunto como el producto de una asociación para delinquir, según los parámetros establecidos en el Código Penal italiano y en el estatuto RICO de Estados Unidos. Algunos de ellos, por cierto, fueron recogidos en la Ley Orgánica contra la Delincuencia Organizada y el Financiamiento del Terrorismo. Esto impondría numerosos retos para los investigadores, sobre los cuales en este momento apenas se puede arrojar alguna luz.

La mesa servida

Lo más importante es atenerse a los hechos, y la forma como se fueron concatenando a partir de 2005. Ese año se tomó una decisión clave para entender el desbordamiento de la delincuencia en el país, en especial la organizada.

En lo público, esta decisión ha sido descrita como la ruptura del convenio de cooperación con la Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), la policía antidrogas estadounidense. El presidente la anunció en una intervención pública, luego de analizar un informe remitido a la comandancia de la GN por el entonces jefe del Comando Antidrogas, general de brigada Frank Morgado, en el que describía una serie de operaciones fallidas, desarrolladas en el seno de un grupo especial de investigaciones conformado bajo la tutela de la DEA con personal escogido de CICPC, la Fiscalía y la propia GN. A Morgado esto le olía a una reedición del caso Guillén Dávila (en el cual él también estuvo implicado, siendo entonces un oficial subalterno).

Sobre la base de una casuística, el jefe del Estado tomó una decisión política que ha tenido importantes consecuencias negativas para el país. Venezuela no solo se distanció de la DEA (esa hubiese sido una consecuencia menor), sino de toda la comunidad de policía internacional, lo que dejó al país prácticamente aislado en materia de investigación a las distintas manifestaciones del crimen organizado. Por lo tanto, a merced de ellas.

Se debe aclarar que el referido convenio de cooperación en realidad no era con la DEA, sino con la Sección de Asuntos sobre Narcóticos (NAS, por sus siglas en inglés) del Departamento de Estado. Tenía la forma de un memorándum de entendimiento entre los gobiernos de Estados Unidos y Venezuela, que incluía desde luego aspectos relacionados con la actividad de interdicción que han sido los más conocidos. Pero había otros tan importantes como ese, destinados a asuntos disímiles como la reforma al sistema aduanero, el fortalecimiento del sistema de administración de justicia e incluso la formación de representantes de la sociedad civil en prevención y tratamiento de las farmacodependencias. Todo eso fue paralizado y reemplazado posteriormente con iniciativas improvisadas, como fue por ejemplo el caso de la instalación de escáneres chinos en la Aduana Marítima de Puerto Cabello, que pronto fallaron.

La decisión de Chávez generaba entonces condiciones ideales para la radicación en Venezuela de mafias de todo tipo. Bastaba a estos sujetos hacerse auténticamente “revolucionarios” para obtener una patente de corso. Ya la Constitución aprobada en 1999 había cerrado la posibilidad de extraditar a los venezolanos requeridos por los tribunales de otros países, de manera que al obtener la nacionalidad los hampones se hacían prácticamente intocables por los delitos cometidos en otras latitudes. Así ha ocurrido por ejemplo con Arturo Cubillas Fontán, señalado por el magistrado de la Audiencia Nacional española Eloy Velasco como el enlace entre la organización separatista vasca Euskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA) y las FARC. Cubillas fue jefe de Seguridad del Instituto Nacional de Tierras (INTI) hasta la salida de Juan Carlos Loyo, en diciembre de 2011.

Hubo, además, otras importantes decisiones que implicaron en la práctica cesiones de territorio a los grupos irregulares y delictivos que operan en la frontera con Colombia. Los teatros de operaciones fueron desmantelados y reemplazados por unidades militares carentes de autonomía operativa, tuteladas desde Caracas. Se prohibió a la policía judicial desarrollar pesquisas antidrogas en la región limítrofe.

Al mismo tiempo, los planes de erradicación de cultivos ilícitos fueron paralizados hasta 2005 con el argumento de que se atendía las quejas de grupos ecologistas. Ese año fueron detectadas 250 hectáreas de coca y amapola de opio. Fue el último en que se contó con la “imagenología” suministrada por la cooperación internacional. Ya los sobrevuelos con los aviones de la DEA equipados con cámaras especiales tenían cuatro años sin realizarse en el país. Desde 2006 la detección de los sembradíos se ha hecho mediante recorridos en helicópteros del Ejército, con escasos resultados. En este caso, no es que Venezuela sea un país “libre de cultivos ilícitos”, sino que las hectáreas de coca y amapola no son avistadas ni reportadas. Son, por decirlo en términos criminológicos, pura cifra negra. Todas las operaciones Sierra efectuadas desde entonces carecen, además, de la verificación que antes hacían invitados de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA). Por lo tanto, no hay forma de contrastar lo que dicen los voceros gubernamentales.

Mientras tanto, en Colombia avanzaba la aplicación de la política de Seguridad Democrática del presidente Álvaro Uribe. En materia de drogas y otras actividades del crimen organizado se produjo lo que se conoce como el efecto “globo” o “cucaracha” (Bruce Bagley): los grupos que antes estaban en el centro del territorio neogranadino se trasladaron a la periferia, con tendencia a mudar sus operaciones a los países vecinos (Ecuador, Venezuela y Panamá). Esto podía percibirse claramente cuando se analizaba la evolución de las estadísticas de vuelos ilícitos en el eje colombo-venezolano entre los años 2003 y 2008. En el primer año de la serie la ruta más usada por los aviones de la droga era el corredor del Pacífico colombiano. En el último año, el trayecto más recorrido partía desde el sur de Apure hacia Falcón y Zulia, y finalizaba en las playas de Honduras o de República Dominicana.

La mesa estaba servida para que los militares venezolanos pudieran ofrecer a los grupos de traficantes colombianos algo que ellos buscan con ansias: una “ruta segura” para sus cargamentos. Para unir esta oferta con los demandantes hacían falta dos importantes brokers o intermediarios, empresarios de la droga y lo que venga con ella. Eran Walid Makled, alias el Turco, y José María Corredor Ibagué, mejor conocido como el Boyaco.

De Putumayo al Tamanaco

La captura de José María Corredor en octubre de 2004 fue quizá una de las últimas grandes operaciones promovidas por la DEA en Venezuela. Los documentos internos señalaban claramente que Corredor era un enviado del Bloque Sur de las FARC, unidad comandada por José Benito Cabrera, alias Fabián Ramírez, para colocar alijos de drogas a cambio de armamento para la organización.

Corredor fue apresado en el lobby del Hotel Tamanaco, en Las Mercedes, cuando iba a reunirse con un agente encubierto para cuadrar un envío de drogas. El “cuerda floja” se sentó junto a él, luego se levantó para ir al baño y en ese momento se produjo la captura. Ante el Gobierno Corredor fue descrito como un “paraco” para así garantizar que permanecería detenido hasta el momento de su extradición. Una mentira blanca.

Para ese momento, según documentos de la DEA, el Boyaco tenía más de año y medio operando con la complicidad de un empresario ampliamente conectado con los militares del centro del país, propietario de las almacenadoras más grandes del puerto más grande de Venezuela: Walid Makled García.

Makled tenía nexos con la guerrilla y con los paramilitares. No era difícil, pues los exintegrantes de las Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) se habían reconfigurado en pequeños grupos conocidos como “bacrim” y llegaron a acuerdos operativos con frentes de las FARC que operan en Norte de Santander y los Llanos Orientales colombianos, para así garantizar la continuidad del “negocio”. Estas eran alianzas endebles, nada perdurables. El cartel del Norte del Valle y sus sucedáneos solo tenían en común con los guerrilleros el ansia de acumular riqueza. Ni siquiera podían ponerse de acuerdo entre ellos mismos y a menudo las disputas se resolvían a tiros (López, 2008).

Makled y el Boyaco tuvieron un entendimiento que incluso trascendió a la propia detención del colombiano. El alijo de 5,5 toneladas de cocaína incautado en un jet en el aeropuerto de Ciudad del Carmen, en abril de 2006, fue enviado hasta allá desde el aeropuerto de Maiquetía en una operación organizada por el Turco. Él mismo lo ha reconocido. La droga pertenecía a las FARC y sería recibida en México por sujetos al servicio de una organización conocida como la Federación, comandada entonces por Joaquín Guzmán (alias Chapo) e Ismael Zambada (el Mayo).

Si en algo hay que dar crédito a Makled fue cuando afirmó que ese jet no pudo haber despegado sin la anuencia de las autoridades militares que controlan todas las actividades del principal terminal aéreo del país. El avión estuvo tres días en una rampa mientras le hacían reparaciones y esperaban la llegada del alijo, distribuido en 155 maletas que fueron colocadas en cada butaca. Cuando despegó tuvo un desperfecto en una compuerta y el piloto, Carmelo Vásquez, tuvo que devolverse de emergencia. Sin embargo, no lo inspeccionaron. Repararon la falla y nuevamente salió.

Venezuela poco a poco fue llenándose de enviados de todas las organizaciones criminales. Del Norte del Valle llegaron sujetos como Salomón Camacho Mora, Wilber Varela y Farid Feris Domínguez, todos ellos capturados o muertos en territorio nacional. De Italia llegó Salvatore Miceli, que en Venezuela representó al mismo tiempo los intereses de la Cosa Nostra siciliana y de la mafia calabresa (´Ndrangheta). Desde México llegaron Luis Frank Tello y su compañera sentimental Gloria Rojas Valencia, ambos deportados en distintos momentos. Otros tantos han continuado operando. De ellos el más notable es Daniel Barrera, alias el Loco, señalado por autoridades colombianas y estadounidenses como el principal traficante de cocaína del momento.

No le faltaba razón a Bayardo Ramírez Monagas, expresidente de la Conacuid, cuando afirmaba que las autoridades venezolanas, en el afán de aparentar que luchan contra el tráfico de drogas, lo único que han hecho es atacar a un solo bando de este negocio, siempre el lado de los paramilitares o sus derivaciones. Algo similar a lo que se ha dicho con respecto a las presidencias mexicanas que antecedieron a Felipe Calderón. En Venezuela los únicos paracos que cayeron en manos de las autoridades fueron el Boyaco Corredor, que luego se evadió de la Disip, y Juan Martínez Vega, alias Chigüiro, cuyo nombre figura en la acusación judicial contra la cúpula de las FARC en una corte estadounidense. Este hombre fue detenido casi como un hecho colateral en febrero de 2005, cuando se llevó a cabo el rescate de Maura Villarreal, la mamá del entonces grandeliga Ugueth Urbina, quien había sido plagiada por el frente 10 de la guerrilla colombiana. La mujer estaba cautiva en una instalación turística abandonada al sur del estado Bolívar. Cuando los agentes de la División Antiextorsión y Secuestros de CICPC la liberaron, hallaron además 630 kilos de cocaína escondidos en el mismo lugar.

Las perlas de Aponte Aponte

A medida que pasa el tiempo aumenta el cúmulo de indicios sobre la participación concertada y continuada de oficiales generales en el tráfico de drogas. De esta historia apenas se conocen algunos datos, develados gracias a que los propios aliados del régimen sienten cerca el final y tratan de negociar una salida antes de que se hunda el barco.

Las primeras pistas al respecto fueron divulgadas a partir de la segunda mitad de 2008, cuando el Departamento del Tesoro anunció el congelamiento de las cuentas y bienes que pudieran tener en Estados Unidos el entonces director de la Disip, y actual ministro de la Defensa, general Henry Rangel Silva; el general de brigada Hugo Carvajal (el Montesinos de Chávez, según la revista Semana) a la sazón director de Inteligencia Militar, y el capitán de navío retirado y exministro de Relaciones Interiores Ramón Rodríguez Chacín. Todos ellos porque supuestamente sirvieron de enlace con las FARC en el intercambio de armas por drogas.

Al conocer esta noticia el presidente no solo descartó los señalamientos, sino que ascendió a Rangel al grado de general en jefe y lo promovió a la conducción del Comando Estratégico Operacional. Hoy en día, es el militar activo con mayor poder en el país, pues también ejerce la cartera de Fuerte Tiuna. En otros términos, el oficial posee el control administrativo y operativo de la institución militar. ¿Cómo entender esta decisión del comandante en jefe?

La lista del Tesoro fue engrosada en septiembre de 2011, como consecuencia del análisis de los archivos hallados en el campamento donde murió Raúl Reyes tres años atrás. El bloqueo de cuentas y bienes fue extendido también al comandante de la Cuarta División Blindada y jefe de la Guarnición de Maracay, general de división Clíver Alcalá; al diputado Freddy Bernal, el comisario del Sebin, Ramón Madriz, y al diputado Amílcar Figueroa, cuyo nombre también fue mencionado como uno de los respaldos políticos de ETA en Venezuela (Salas, 2010).

En resumen, de las siete personas sancionadas por el Tesoro debido a su aparente vínculo con las FARC y el tráfico de drogas, dos son militares activos de alta graduación, otras dos son retirados que han ejercido posiciones clave en el Gobierno, una es miembro de la policía política con la mayor jerarquía y dos civiles. Todas actuando en una aparente asociación continuada hacia un mismo fin.

Faltaba, sin embargo, la información sobre hechos concretos en los que algunos de los miembros de esta sociedad hayan actuado. Ese dato lo aportó el coronel retirado (GN) Eladio Aponte Aponte, exfiscal general militar promovido por el propio régimen a la máxima posición de la justicia penal venezolana, es decir, a la presidencia de la Sala de Casación Penal del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia.

Antes de salir del país para convertirse en colaborador de la policía antidrogas estadounidense, Aponte reveló que por presiones de la cúpula militar del momento tuvo que otorgar una medida cautelar al teniente coronel del Ejército Pedro José Maggino, quien fue detenido en marzo de 2006 junto a otros dos oficiales, dos suboficiales y un civil a propósito de las investigaciones posteriores al decomiso de un alijo de 2,2 toneladas de cocaína. Este cargamento fue traído desde Colombia en noviembre del año anterior por vía terrestre y ocultado en la sede de un batallón ubicada en Carora, estado Lara. A pesar de esta circunstancia, Maggino fue ascendido posteriormente al grado de coronel, y continúa activo en la FAN.

El desenlace del caso Aponte, así como los hechos previos, sugieren además que en la FAN no existe un Cartel de los Soles, sino por lo menos dos grandes estructuras en pugna por el control del paso de drogas. Una de la GN y otra del Ejército. La salida de Makled a partir de 2008 dejó a la GN en posición desventajosa frente a una alianza de facto entre las FARC y el componente terrestre.

Conclusión: futuro en peligro

En 1993, Alain Labrousse observaba que Venezuela “ofrece estupendas oportunidades a los narcotraficantes”. Su vecindad con Colombia, la existencia de amplias fachadas con el mar Caribe y el océano Atlántico y, lo que resultaba más importante, la existencia de una élite política que poca atención le ponía al problema del tráfico y consumo de drogas, le conferían al territorio unas características ideales que en algún momento hicieron al primer gran arrepentido de la Cosa Nostra, Tomasso Buschetta, recomendarlo como destino para los mafiosos en apuros.

Antes de la llegada de Hugo Chávez al poder hubo militares activos y retirados implicados en casos de drogas. En 1992 fue detenido en una operación encubierta el general de brigada (Ejército) Alexis Ramón Sánchez Paz, a la sazón agregado militar en Estados Unidos. El tratamiento a una lesión lo hizo adicto a los narcóticos, especialmente la morfina, y esto lo llevó a traficar alijos hacia Estados Unidos, donde finalmente tuvo que pagar diez años de prisión (Azócar, 1994). Durante el segundo período de Carlos Andrés Pérez también cayeron Guillén y Hernández, aunque en condiciones totalmente diferentes. Aún hoy en día existe la duda de si estos oficiales efectivamente traficaban para provecho propio o como parte de un convenio secreto con la Agencia Central de Inteligencia (CIA). Fue en esa época cuando comenzó a hablarse del Cartel del Sol (Malaver, 1999), aunque el cúmulo probatorio no permitía concluir la existencia de un cartel, con las características que tenía en Colombia.

Esta idea, sin embargo, ha perdurado hasta nuestros días para designar al grupo de militares en actividad que supuestamente ha establecido cierta hegemonía sobre el tráfico de drogas, debido a su vínculo con el poder establecido. No obstante, la evidencia que ha surgido desde la divulgación de los archivos informáticos hallados en poder de Luis Edgar Devia (alias Raúl Reyes), encargado de las relaciones internacionales de las FARC, así como también con la detención del empresario Walid Makled, y más recientemente con la declaración del exfiscal general militar y expresidente de la Sala de Casación Penal del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, coronel retirado (GN) Eladio Aponte, se puede señalar que no existe un cartel propiamente dicho sino al menos dos grandes grupos de militares que se disputan este liderato.

El efecto corruptor de las relaciones entre militares activos y grupos de delincuencia organizada transnacional es mayor a medida que el tiempo pasa y los oficiales se enquistan en posiciones de poder. Un referente histórico claro de esta situación lo tenemos en el breve gobierno del general Luis García Meza en Bolivia (1980-1981), quien intentó capitalizar las relaciones adquiridas con el cartel de Medellín desde años antes de asumir la primera magistratura. Esto sumió al país suramericano en una espiral de ingobernabilidad que propició la caída del régimen, en medio de una gran presión internacional.

Cara a las elecciones del 7 de octubre, es posible que la facción perdedora en el conflicto interno de la FAN mantenga una discreta posición hasta conocer los resultados de este proceso. Entonces, intentará cobrar las cuentas pendientes, por vía judicial o extrajudicial, dependiendo del grado de institucionalidad que conserve el país a partir de ese momento.

*Esta investigación fue publicada en el número 24 de la revista Simón Bolívar Analytic, en marzo-abril de 2012

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Latin American Traffickers Find New – And Risky – Drug Market In Middle East Gulf States

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http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/09/19/latin-american-traffickers-find-new-and-risky-drug-market-in-middle-east-gulf.html

 

As Mexico’s drug cartels expand their reach beyond Latin America and the United States into Europe, Asia, and Australia, traffickers in Argentina and Brazil have begun looking toward the Middle East Gulf States as a new spot to haul their illicit goods.

Security experts estimate that around 75 percent of all the drugs seized in Qatar come from South America and that the new amounts of wealth pouring into countries like Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have lured drug traffickers to the tightly watched region.

“It’s a very small amount that they have seized in Qatar but we can see from recent activity that Qatar is a new route for drug traffickers from Brazil and Argentina, among other countries, who are using the route to expand their illicit trade in the Gulf region,” said Johan Obdola, president of the Vancouver-based International Organization for Security and Intelligence (IOSI). “If you mention Dubai and Kuwait to anyone in the underworld, people say it’s money. And where there is money, there is opportunity for criminal activity.”

According to a security source speaking to the Argentinean newspaper La Nación, the new route to the Gulf states has “exploded.” Last September there were six cases of attempted drug smuggling from an airport near Buenos Aires to the Qatari capital of Doha and Obdola believes that the amount of smugglers captured in Qatar – 50 last year – is just “the tip of the iceberg.”

South American traffickers are taking the risk of bringing their products to the Gulf states because the profit is much greater in that region than in the United States. According to La Nación, the price of a kilogram of cocaine in Qatar is $90,000 – about three times the price it would go for in the U.S.

Despite the cash incentive to traffic drugs to the Gulf states, the countries have some of the harshest anti-drug laws in the world.

The UAE has the longest list of banned substances in the world, which include many commonly available drugs such as codeine and many well-known anti-depressants, and a Qatari court recently sentenced two men to death for drug smuggling.

“Legislation enacted in January 1996 imposes the death sentence for convicted drug traffickers,” the U.S. State Department wrote on its website about the UAE. “Since January 2006, possession of even trace amounts of illegal drugs has resulted in lengthy prison sentences for foreign citizens transiting the UAE.”

The recent effort by Latin American traffickers to move their product to countries other than the U.S. has been mainly based on the rising popularity of drugs like cocaine and MDMA in European nations and the high costs these substances fetch outside the U.S.

A 10-year investigation by Italian authorities last year revealed ties between Italian groups and Mexican drug traffickers to move shipments of cocaine across the Atlantic Ocean.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) recently announced documented links between Mexican cartels and criminal groups in Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, and Nigeria. The Sinaloa Cartel is also known to have ties not only in Europe but throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia and Australia, where a booming trade has developed in the country’s cities.

“The U.S. is not the only game in town,” said Rusty Payne, a DEA spokesman, adding that tougher tactics from both the Mexican and U.S. governments have led Mexican cartels to look elsewhere.

“Europe is crazy now with coke,” Payne told Fox News Latino last year.

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Indonesia’s winning war vs terror

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JAKARTA — As the world battles a spike in assaults and plots by Islamist militants, Indonesia’s anti-terrorism unit is drawing praise for stemming a wave of bloody attacks in the sprawling Muslim-majority nation.

Indonesia has foiled at least 15 attacks this year alone and made more than 150 arrests, disrupting plots ranging from suicide attacks in Jakarta to a rocket attack from Indonesia’s Batam island targeting Singapore.

Going back to 2010, a Reuters analysis of data shows the elite unit, Special Detachment 88 (Densus 88), has prevented at last 54 plots or attacks in the nation of 250 million people, the world’s fourth largest.

“Densus 88 has become better than pretty well any other counter-terrorism group in the world,” said Greg Barton, a terrorism export and research professor in Global Islamic Politics at Alfred Deakin Institute in Melbourne.

“They have had an incredible workload and they have become remarkably good at what they do.”

In the last six years, there has been only one major attack in Indonesia that caused civilian deaths, when assailants hit a Jakarta mall and police post with gunfire and bombs, resulting in the deaths of three Indonesians and a dual Algerian-Canadian national. All four attackers were also killed in the January 2016 attack.

Between 2002 to 2009, there were nine major attacks by militants, leaving 295 dead and hundreds of others wounded.

Since its formation in 2002, the unit has put a premium on clandestine intelligence gathering. Now much of that intelligence work is done online, by infiltrating and monitoring chat rooms, social media and messaging apps popular with militants.

SELF-SUFFICIENT
Few details about Densus 88 are publicly available.

“We built our organization to learn from the enemy,” said a senior counter-terrorism officer who provided some insight into the working of the unit but spoke on condition of anonymity.

Created in the aftermath of the deadly 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people, Densus 88 has about 400 to 500 members, state-of-the-art weaponry and training, said another official. It has received more than $200 million of funding from Western allies such as Australia and the United States.

The unit is headed by a task force, a core of 30 or so senior members, said the Indonesian law enforcement source.

“Many of them possess doctorates and have specialties like psychology and social behaviour,” the source added. “They are not like regular police.”

The black clad, heavily armed members of Densus 88 sometimes seen during raids on suspected militant hideouts make up a small proportion of the unit, officials say.

Far more personnel are dedicated to gathering intelligence in the field and monitoring communications and online activity. There is also a large team of investigators analyzing that intelligence and forensically examining explosives and other evidence.

Sidney Jones, the director of Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), said the key to Densus 88’s success lies in its intelligence gathering.

“They know the radical networks and have a good set of informers,” she said.

“It is unparalleled in terms of its ability to understand the sources of possible threats.”

STRATEGIC INTERROGATION
Densus 88 has long been accused by human rights groups of abuses, including beatings of alleged separatists and Islamist suspects.

Indonesia’s National Human Rights Commission has identified 121 terrorism suspects who have died in custody since 2007 but the police routinely deny using torture or inappropriate force in interrogation.

Amnesty International said earlier this year there was an “endemic culture of impunity” in Indonesia’s police service and a need for an investigation into the “torture” of suspects by Densus 88.

However, Barton said the unit has adopted a unique, “strategic” approach to interrogations that aids intelligence gathering.

Suspects were kept at police stations rather than in jails and allowed to meet their families.

“They sit down and listen to their story,” Barton said. “They get them talking and that’s an effective way of getting intelligence.”

Despite Densus 88’s recent successes, the worry is that the militant threat to Indonesia is mounting as Islamic State fighters return battle-hardened from Syria and Iraq. The ultra-radical group also commands support from some Indonesians who have stayed at home.

About 800 Indonesians have traveled to Syria to join Islamic State and 169 have been stopped en route and deported, according to Indonesia’s national counter-terrorism agency.

In the past two months alone, there have been 40 arrests, and at least six attacks foiled, according to the Reuters study, which collated data with the assistance of IPAC staff. At least two of the attacks were planned for New Year’s Eve, police said.

Many of these plots have been linked to Islamic State, with police alleging they were inspired, if not directed, by Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian militant who fled to Syria about two years ago.

“These new homegrown terrorists and the local jihadists have never gone abroad. But with the advent of the Internet age and technologies like social media, it’s easier to make bombs and explosives to do operations,” said the law enforcement source.

Authorities remain deeply worried about an attack during the holiday season.

In the longer term, the worry is the possible return of hardened Islamic State fighters like Naim to the region.

“They will be a different type of terrorist and the police are going to have a lot more problems,” said Indonesian analyst Rakyan Adibrata. — Reuters

UAE defence imports to double to $3bn by 2015

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Original Article >> http://www.thenational.ae/uae/uae-defence-imports-to-double-to-3bn-by-2015

ABU DHABI // The UAE is expected to more than double spending on military imports by 2015, according to a study released on Thursday.

The country was ranked the second-biggest defence importer in the Middle East, behind Saudi Arabia, according to the Balance of Trade Study, conducted by the UK-based IHS Jane’s, an intelligence provider to militaries, government, intelligence agencies and industries.

“Data shows that the UAE is forecast to be the [world’s] number three defence importer by 2015,” said Ben Moores, a senior analyst at the military intelligence provider.

“Based on current orders by 2015, the UAE will be importing less than Iraq. This could change as this is only based on existing orders to date. The defence market is cyclical so it’s not a sign of a long-term decline.

“Countries in the region are importing more than they ever have, and that trend shows no signs of slowing down. Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE together imported more than western Europe as a whole – US$9.3 billion (Dh34.2bn) compared with $8.7bn.”

Mr Moores said the UAE’s import programme was also expected to more than double.

“By 2015, imports are forecast to total $3.13bn, up from a 2009 total of $1.4bn,” he said. “Looking towards 2023 in terms of programmes awarded, the UAE is interested in the F-35 [multi-role fighter jet].”

Deliveries would not start until 2020.

Mr Moores said the terminal high altitude air defence system (Thaad) would start next year.

“It’s a very capable, top-notch ballistic missile system,” he said. “That’ll cost about $2bn just to acquire the system. It doesn’t include support or spares, so it’s just the missile without the radar.”

The radar, he said, would come in later and would cost the UAE $1.6bn.

“The delivery started last year and it will probably go on for another 10 years,” he said.

Another acquisition is the AN/TPY-2 radar.

“It’s a huge radar with very large, fast and accurate missiles,” Mr Moores said. “If they see a missile coming towards them, they can engage it at very high altitude, so it’s a very capable system.”

He said deliveries of the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, a strategic military transport aircraft, have just been completed, costing $1.2bn for the platform alone.

The UAE is also buying armoured vehicles and a radar-based satellite.

The news comes shortly after the announcement that the UAE had almost doubled its budget for homeland security from $5.5bn to $10bn in the next decade, according to the US department of commerce’s international trade administration.

Spending on airport security will reach $57.7 million by 2015, the study forecast.

“So far, airport security technologies used in the UAE are a good step forward,” said Johan Obdola, the president of the International Organisation for Security and Intelligence.

“If you combine and implement the latest technologies to create a data management, information sharing and immigration mobility, it is absolutely essential.”

Mr Obdola said most of the funds should be geared towards the human aspect of security.

“The police in Abu Dhabi and Dubai really have to focus on training,” he said. “They should create an elite force of police officers, not just for the airports, seaports and borders, but to establish an integrated intelligence centre.

“Investment in human training, capacity and human intelligence complementing the latest technologies is absolutely the best way to address the situation.

“They have very good technologies set up in airports, so now we really need to focus more on the human operational side.”

cmalek@thenational.ae

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UAE Ministry issues its own tourist map of London with emphasis on safety

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Original Article >> http://www.thenational.ae/uae/government/uae-ministry-issues-its-own-tourist-map-of-london-with-emphasis-on-safety

ABU DHABI // Some Emiratis say they will avoid areas of London after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a map of “dangerous areas” in the English capital.

Those highlighted as most dangerous were Oxford Street, Edgware Road, Piccadilly and Soho, while less perilous were Shepherd’s Bush and Queensway.

“I will definitely be avoiding those areas the next time I go to London because this is like an official warning from the ministry,” said Dubai resident Mona Al Ali, 29.

“I will take it seriously because I can’t imagine going to such places without getting scared or worried.”

The warning comes after two separate attacks on Emiratis in the city this year.

On April 6, three sisters were attacked in their room at the Cumberland Hotel by a hammer-wielding burglar, while two weeks later an Emirati couple and their friend were confronted by intruders wielding a gun and butcher knife in their Paddington apartment.

The ministry said the areas on its map had high crime rates for fraud, theft and pickpocketing.

Dangerous areas included Marble Arch station running north to Edgware Road and beyond the Metropole Hotel. Also specified was Marble Arch station to the west, to Tottenham Court Road to the east, through Bond Street and Oxford Circus.

“This area includes the famous Selfridges, which attracts many Emiratis,” the ministry said.

Another area was the square to the east of Oxford Circus to Tottenham Court Road, and running south to Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus to the west and back up to Oxford Circus. A popular market in Shepherd’s Bush was also named, as was the area between Queensway and Bayswater stations.

“I think maybe people from the Gulf are more targeted there because of their lifestyle. They might not be too discreet with their jewellery when they travel and they wear nice clothes,” said Ms Al Ali.

“All of this attracts criminals, which is why I keep my travel gear low-key to avoid attracting any kind of attention to myself.”

Mohammad Al Awadhi said he avoided the “hot zones” of any country when it was advised.

“You have to follow the guidelines from the Government,” said the Dubai man. “It’s a question of being discreet. You have to keep a low profile and be normal. But from my experience overseas, a lot of people are almost inviting criminals over.”

London’s Metropolitan Police, however, insisted that no part of the city was considered a “no-go” area. “We are not advising anybody to avoid any area of London and in particular the areas that have been flagged up,” a spokeswoman said.

She said crime had been falling for some time by about 16 per cent in Westminster, the borough most Emiratis stay in during their visits.

A security expert noted while London was quite safe, crime happened as it does in any city.

“The recent criminal-related attacks on Emiratis reflect a tendency of criminal gangs in London to target Emirati nationals, as well as Saudis and other GCC nationals, who are perceived as wealthy and easy targets,” said Johan Obdola, from the International Association of Airport and Seaport Police.

“The UAE should put together its own preventive measures to educate UAE nationals visiting, studying or doing business not only in London, but the rest of Europe and all over the world.”

cmalek@thenational.ae