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INTERNATIONAL GLOBAL TERRORISM: ITS LINKS
WITH ILLICIT DRUGS AS ILLUSTRATED BY
THE IRA AND OTHER GROUPS IN COLOMBIA
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
APRIL 24, 2002
Serial No. 10787
Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.house.gov/internationalrelations
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COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman
BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York
JAMES A. LEACH, Iowa
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey
DAN BURTON, Indiana
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
PETER T. KING, New York
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
AMO HOUGHTON, New York
JOHN M. McHUGH, New York
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
THOMAS G. TANCREDO, Colorado
RON PAUL, Texas
NICK SMITH, Michigan
JOSEPH R. PITTS, Pennsylvania
DARRELL E. ISSA, California
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCERIC CANTOR, Virginia
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
BRIAN D. KERNS, Indiana
JO ANN DAVIS, Virginia
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
TOM LANTOS, California
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
EARL F. HILLIARD, Alabama
BRAD SHERMAN, California
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
JIM DAVIS, Florida
ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
BARBARA LEE, California
JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
JOSEPH M. HOEFFEL, Pennsylvania
EARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSHELLEY BERKLEY, Nevada
GRACE NAPOLITANO, California
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
DIANE E. WATSON, California
THOMAS E. MOONEY, SR., Staff Director/General Counsel
ROBERT R. KING, Democratic Staff Director
JOHN MACKEY, Investigative Counsel
MARILYN C. OWEN, Staff Associate
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable Asa Hutchinson, Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
The Honorable Mark F. Wong, Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Office of Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State
General Fernando Tapias, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Armed Forces of Colombia
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Gerry Adams, MP, MLA, President of Sinn Fein: Letter to the Honorable Henry J. Hyde, a Representative in Congress from the State of Illinois, and Chairman, Committee on International Relations, dated April 23, 2002 accompanied by a copy of the text from Mr. Adams' October 21, 2001 press statement
Letter to Gerry Adams dated March 28, 2002 from Peter Madden, Madden & Finucane, Solicitors, on behalf of three Irish nationals awaiting trial in Colombia
Statement of International Relations Committee on Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams' response
The Honorable Asa Hutchinson: Prepared statement
The Honorable Mark F. Wong: Prepared statement
Response submitted after the hearing by the Honorable Mark F. Wong to question asked by the Honorable Pete King, a Representative in Congress from the State of New York
Response submitted after the hearing by the Honorable Mark F. Wong to question asked by the Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida
General Fernando Tapias: Report on international terrorism
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Honorable Henry J. Hyde: Question submitted to the Honorable Asa Hutchinson after the hearing and Mr. Hutchinson's response
The Honorable Benjamin A. Gilman, a Representative in Congress from the State of New York: Prepared statement
The Honorable Thomas G. Tancredo, a Representative in Congress from the State of Colorado: Question submitted to General Fernando Tapias after the hearing
The Honorable William D. Delahunt, a Representative in Congress from the State of Massachusetts: Letter to the Honorable Henry J. Hyde dated September 6, 2001
Letter to the Honorable Tom Lantos, a Representative in Congress from the State of California dated October 31, 2001
The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: Prepared statement
The Honorable Dan Burton, a Representative in Congress from the State of Indiana: Prepared statement
Letter to the Secretary of State, the Honorable Colin Powel, dated December 15, 2001
The Honorable Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida: Letter dated September 21, 2002 urging the Committee on International Relations to pursue an investigation of IRA activities in Colombia
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The Honorable Lincoln Diaz-Balart: Prepared statement
U.S. Cuba Policy Report, special edition, dated September 25, 2001
The Honorable Bob Barr, a Representative in Congress from the State of Georgia: Letter dated April 22, 2002 requesting permission to attend and participate in global terrorism hearing
Letter written to the Secretary of State, the Honorable Colin Powel, dated December 5, 2001
INTERNATIONAL GLOBAL TERRORISM: ITS LINKS WITH ILLICIT DRUGS AS
ILLUSTRATED BY THE IRA AND OTHER
GROUPS IN COLOMBIA
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24, 2002
House of Representatives,
Committee on International Relations,
The Committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:22 a.m. in Room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Henry Hyde (Chairman of the Committee) presiding.
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Chairman HYDE. The Committee will come to order to order.
Once distant and abstract, the threat of terrorism now commands a central place in our attention. We have always faced individual fanatics and a patchwork of anti-American extremists. But as our newly focused investigations expose ever-deeper layers, it is increasingly clear that the phenomenon of terrorism is an international one, drawing strength from a network of widely dispersed groups. Their seemingly diverse goals have one thing in common: the deliberate use of terror. Their assaults on the institutions of civil society respect no borders, give no quarters, recognize no innocents.
This ''globalization of terror'' ought to concern every Member of this Committee. We have a duty to recognize that all individuals, organizations, and regimes involved in terror have placed themselves outside the pale of the civilized community, and we must deal with them accordingly.
If the United States and its allies are to be successful in combating this growing threat, our efforts cannot be limited to isolated regions or single targets. Instead, we must combat an array of widely dispersed components simultaneously and pursue them wherever they may be hiding.
One of the most disturbing developments is the emergency nexus of organized crime, terrorism, and drugs. Nowhere is this destructive combination more advanced than in Colombia.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For several years, Colombia has been waging a bitter war on many fronts. At times, the combined assault by terrorists, drug lords, and others has threatened to overwhelm it. Of these threats, the most prominent is that posed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the narco-terrorists known by their Spanish acronym as the FARC, FARC.
The FARC is waging war against Colombian society. In the past decade, over 5,000 Colombian police have been killed, thousands of civilians slaughtered, and the government's authority obliterated in much of the country. Despite repeated and unprecedentedly generous peace offerings by the government, the armed assault on the government and on the Colombian people has only increased. The FARC now acts as though it is sovereign in its own territory. Were it to succeed, the consequences would be nightmarish, a criminal state free to expand its corrupting touch to its neighbors and beyond.
We already have a taste of what might come. The FARC's war against Colombia is being financed by illegal drugs. In this, the FARC is not a mere passive profiteer, taking its cut. Instead, it has become an active participant by sheltering and promoting the cultivation, processing, and trade in illegal drugs.
Worse may yet come. Already, the disorganization in Colombia is such that it has become familiar ground to a wide range of terrorists, including Iranians, Cubans, and the ETA, among others. President Pastrana has stated that
''Like the United States in the fight against al-Qaeda, we are fighting a multinational terrorist network.''
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Why should the growing chaos in this unfamiliar country and on another continent concern us?
We can hardly be bystanders. Colombia is only 3 hours from Miami. Should Colombia be fatally undermined, the contagion would spread to neighboring countries and beyond. The FARC has already declared the U.S. to be an enemy, terming U.S. assistance to the Colombian government an ''act of war.'' Americans in Colombia are routinely kidnapped and even murdered. And the FARC's promotion of an increasing supply of drugs to the United States guarantees and ever-more-deadly impact here at home.
Some caution us against providing assistance to Colombia, invoking the specter of Vietnam. But the true comparison is with Afghanistan under Taliban rule, only this time it is located in our own hemisphere.
Our hearing today will include a small piece of the problem we faceone which is vastly revealing of its complex and dangerous nature, and that is the capture of three IRA members in Colombia last year. Let me caution, this hearing is not about the Irish peace process or the three Irish nationals indicted in Colombia. Its sole focus is the impact on U.S. national interests from the developments in Colombia.
By the way, I am interrupting my statement to tell Mr. Delahunt and Mr. King that I will entertain 5-minute statements, opening statements from each of them. I had previously said no statements, but if the Committee will indulge me to restrict it, I am concerned about time. We have a witness coming who is a Colombian who must return, and has a time schedule. I do not want to deny Mr. King or Mr. Delahunt an opportunity, but they will be limited to 5 minutes.
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Mr. KING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. Without objection, so ordered.
Having said that, the question is, ''What are members of the IRA doing in Colombia?'' Claims that these individuals were there for benign purposesspecifically, eco-tourism or for activities related to the Irish and Colombian peace processesare an insult to our intelligence.
According to President Pastrana, these IRA members had been training FARC guerrillas in the use of explosives and other destructive techniques. The result has been to significantly enhance the FARC's campaign of urban terrorism, which can already measure its success in thousands of casualties.
The available evidence strongly indicates that involvement of the IRA in Colombia extends beyond the three members who were captured and that it has had a presence in that country for at least 3 years.
What does the IRA gain in exchange for its services? Probably money derived from the FARC's drug trade, as well as an ability to test and improve new weapons and methods of destruction for use elsewhere.
Here are the facts as we know them:
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Two members of the IRA were arrested in Colombia, along with the Sinn Fein representative based in Cuba; each was carrying a false passport; forensic tests conducted revealed the trace presence of explosives on their clothing and belongings; Colombia has indicated these three Irish nationals for training the FARC and for using false documents, and the U.S. has indicated the FARC on drug trafficking charges.
These and other facts were compiled by the staff of the International Relations Committee, which has conducted an exhaustive investigation, including interviews with an extensive list of witnesses and experts in Colombia, the United States, and Europe, and also obtained information from Colombian officials and other sources.
I ask unanimous consent that the faxed letter I received from Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, dated April 23, 2002, be made a part of the record.
[The information referred to follows:]
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Chairman HYDE. I note that he says on the second page of his letter,
''Let me state again to you that neither I, nor anyone else, in the Sinn Fein Leadership were aware that the three men were traveling to Colombia.''
For those who have dealt with Mr. Adams through the long struggle for peace and justice in the North of Ireland, he has never given them any reason to doubt his word. I accept Mr. Adams' statement at face value and ask that it be included in the record. At this time, we have no information contradicting that statement.
We are only at the beginning of the process of discovery regarding the nature and extent of the threat that we face. This hearing is an important step in that direction, but only one of many measures that remain to be taken. Shielding our eyes from the unpleasant truths will only guarantee that Colombia will present us with a growing list of even more unpleasant surprises.
I note that General Tapias has only a limited time with us due to pressing commitments which necessitate his return to Colombia. Given time constraints placed on the Committee, without objection, I ask that Members other than Mr. Delahunt and Mr. King, and of course, our Ranking Member, Mr. Lantos, place their opening statements in the record of today's proceeding.
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Mr. LANTOS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me at the outset thank you personally for allowing our two colleagues with a particular interest in the subject matter of this hearing to make their opening statements.
Mr. Chairman, we as a nation have a responsibility to help all the countries of Latin America to tackle terrorism effectively within their borders, because it is clear that terrorists increasingly threaten the security of some of our southern neighbors.
Middle Eastern terrorist organization, such as Hizballah and Hamas, are raising substantial amounts of cash in the border area between Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina to finance their nefarious activities. Hamas militants also may have utilized a portion of the funds raised in the tri-border area to help finance the bombings of the Israeli embassy and the Jewish community center in Argentina in the 1990s.
In Colombia, the United States has correctly designated the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia, and the National Liberation Army as foreign terrorist organizations. Mr. Chairman, these terrorist groups clearly threaten the national security of Colombia.
In this context, today's hearing asks us to reexamine the Administration's conclusions by investigating the links between the Irish Republican Army and the FARC.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If the IRA is indeed providing institutional support to the FARC through training in terrorist techniques and technology, then it is critically important that we do everything within our power to sever that link.
Mr. Chairman, while international financial and diplomatic support for some terrorist organizations in other parts of the world help sustain the deadly activities of those terrorists, in Colombia, underlying societal inequities and governmental failures fuel much of the popular discontent upon which the FARC, the ELN and the AUC depend for both members and sympathizers.
The recognition of the root causes of societal discord and conflict in Colombia in no way justifies the inexcusable. The FARC, the AUC and the ELN repeatedly have committed gross violations of human rights, including wholesale massacrers of entire villages, systematic kidnappings, the forced recruitment of children, and brutal assassination of suspected opponents.
The FARC and other terrorist groups have also attacked critical Colombian infrastructure, and launched an urban bombing campaign which has targeted rescue teams and police anti-bomb squads. In addition, the FARC and the AUC are the Colombian drug kingpins of today.
Given these atrocities and other criminal acts, Mr. Chairman, the United States and our allies have rightly recognized the FARC, the AUC and the ELN for what they truly areterrorists. And we have condemned them accordingly.
Through Plan Colombia and its successor programs, the United States has also assisted the government of Colombia to undercut the financial underpinnings of the FARC and the AUC by attacking narcotics trafficking in Colombia and in the Andean Region.
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Our Committee is considering legislation that would grant the Administration new authorities to assist the government of Colombia in its war against terrorism. As one who is firmly convinced that we must fight against terrorism globally, wherever it may be found, I support these expanded authorities as long as they address vital human rights concerns and other socio-political issues.
I am particularly troubled by the continuing links between units of Colombia's armed forces and illegal para-military organizations. When this Committee met with President Pastrana last week, I urged President Pastrana to commit his administration to fully sever these often bloody ties.
In our new war on terrorism, the United States simply cannot and will not accept any state organization or individual that cooperates either tacitly or overtly with known terrorists. Our zero tolerance policy must be as strong and unwavering as it is morally just.
I look forward to hearing the testimony of our panelists and engaging in the question and answer period.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Lantos.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. KING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I certainly appreciate your courtesy in extending me the opportunity to make this statement.
Mr. Chairman, let me make a few points at the very outset.
First of all, I have supported the policy of the Clinton Administration toward Colombia. I strongly support the policy of the Bush Administration toward Colombia. I look upon FARC as a menace not just to Colombia and to our hemisphere, but to the United States itself.
I also want to make it clear that if the three accused members of the IRA were involved in any activities at all with the FARC, it is disgraceful, indefensible, must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
And in fact, for the purposes of this hearing, and only for the purposes of this hearing, I will assume arguendo that they are in fact guilty. I will take the worst case scenario for the purpose of this hearing.
And I also, Mr. Chairman, would support a full investigation as to whether or not there is any involvement with the IRA or any other groups in this hemisphere.
Having said that, Mr. Chairman, I feel this investigation has fallen woefully short of that mark. The fact is we are going to hear no new testimony today that we were not aware of last August and September. The fact is that there will be no testimony brought out say linking the IRA to any Colombian drug deals whatsoever.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think it is very misleading and inappropriate for the Committee, for instance, to title this hearing ''International Global Terrorism: Its Links with Illicit Drugs As Illustrated by the IRA,'' when there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the IRA had any involvement at all in the sale of drugs in the Western Hemisphere or anywhere else for that matter.
And we have to realize, Mr. Chairman, that actions have consequences. There is a peace process in Ireland. There is a peace process in Ireland which was painfully attained by the sacrifice of many people over many years, including many people in this government, and it is at a critical point right now. For us to be holding a hearing, where we have all of the European media here, with the headlines going on in the British and Irish papers linking the IRA to drugs, to terrorism, Gerry Adams not appearing, there is this whole gamut, and then when the evidence comes out, there is going to be virtually nothing at all. In fact, nothing new at all will be brought out about the IRA in Colombia.
In your own opening statement, Mr. Chairman, you said that the involvement of the IRA extended beyond those three men. Well, the fact is there will be no credible evidence showing that it extended beyond those three. We are going to be talking about unnamed informers from another government. There will be no names given. There will be no testimony given. And to rely on that at a time when there is a peace process going on in Ireland, I just think it is irresponsible.
We are saying a possible motive for the IRA doing this is to test new weapons. Why? They are decommissioning their weapons in Ireland today. Why would they be destroying weapons on the one hand and testing new weapons on the other? It makes absolutely no sense.
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Also, there is no evidence at all to be introduced that the IRA sanctioned any of these activities. There is no evidence whatsoever the army council of the IRA or any person in a leadership position of the IRA at any time authorized these three men to do what they did. There is no evidence at all that they are doing this other than on their own.
Now, it may be brought out later in the future, but it has not been brought out so far. And for us to go into a public hearing before that evidence is here is just wrong.
Most importantly, there is no evidence whatsoever that anyone in Sinn Fein, which is the political leadership of the republican movement, had any involvement whatsoever. And yet this is being used against them at a time in Ireland when there are critical matters going on, when other parties to the peace process are not complying; when, for instance, none of the loyalist para-military forces have decommissioned any of their weapons, and the IRA has decommissioned massive amounts of weapons.
I just think this is wrong, Mr. Chairman, to have this hearing today under these auspices. I think it is misleading. I think that full investigative techniques were not used. It was an investigation with an agenda from the start; and just the fact that, for instance, in Mr. Lantos's own opening statementand I have the greatest regard for Mr. Lantos, and I believe we are probably on the same page on thishe gave an exhaustive statement on Colombia, and not one word about the IRA.
I have gone through Mr. Hutchinson's opening statement. Not one word on the IRA other than to state that three members were arrested last August. We have testimony about the FARC, ELN, AUC, SL, ETA, PPK, VMPE, all these groups being actually involved in drug dealing. Not one word in anyone's testimony today about the IRA involved in drug dealing. Yet the title of this hearing is the IRA's role in drug dealing.
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And this to me, Mr. Chairman, is a hearing that has gone awry. It is a hearing with an agenda. It is a hearing which is maybe going to satisfy the interests of those who want to derail the peace processing.
Having said that, let me commend the Administration for making it clear that they not going to take any action based on this hearing. The Administration has basically said that no new testimony is going to be coming out, and for standing firm in the peace process, even if there are others who for whatever reasons want to derail the peace process, and besmirch innocent people, and send a very false signal to the world.
And with that, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your time, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Chairman HYDE. The gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Delahunt.
Mr. DELAHUNT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As you know, I have been deeply engaged in the problems that have been afflicting Colombia for years, ever since I arrived in Congress. So I was particularly concerned when three Irish nationals were arrested in Colombia last August on suspicion of having trained the FARC. That prompted me to request the International Relations Committee to conduct a thorough review of this incident to determine the facts.
I also suggested at the appropriate time hearings might be necessary as I believe the American people should know the facts surrounding this incident, and their elected representatives be given the opportunity to come to conclusions based on the facts.
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Unfortunately, we have been presented with a report short on facts and replete with speculation and surmise and opinion, much of which I would note I disagree with. This report and other documents have received wide circulation both here and abroad and is quickly being accepted as the position of this Committee.
For example, as my friend from New York, Mr. King, has indicated previously, the notice of this hearing is entitled ''International Global Terrorism: Its Links with Illicit Drugs as Illustrated by the IRA and Other Groups in Colombia.'' It clearly suggests that this represents a conclusion reached after a thoughtful discussion among Members of this Committee. That is not the case.
Additionally, I was briefed on Tuesday by minority staff that participated in some of the interviews of relevant Colombian and U.S. officials involved in this matter. It should be noted for the record that they disagree with some of the facts as asserted in the majority report.
I was particularly disturbed by a claim by the majority staff that, and I am quoting,
''The IRA's activity directly impacts our national interest in Colombia as we increase U.S. assistance and enlarge our direct counterterrorism role against the FARC.''
I am unaware that this Committee has recommended to the House that we increase our assistance. And what I find particularly disturbing is a suggestion that we enlarge our direct counterterrorism role against the FARC. I have no doubt that this language will be interpreted by some in Colombia that the United States is prepared to introduce American troops into that quagmire.
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I know of no one on this Committee who would support that kind of a policy change, and I for one would vigorously oppose it.
It is as if the purpose of today's hearing is not to determine the facts, but rather to rubber stamp a preordained conclusion to fit a particular agenda.
Now, I have great respect for our witnesses here today. I know personally the Administrator, Mr. Hutchinson, and General Tapias, who will testify later. I hold them in high regard. But they will not be giving us the facts. You can peruse their testimony, and that becomes obvious.
They are not the people who are intimate with the details of this particular incident. They will merely read their testimony prepared by someone who talked to someone who got the information from someone who worked with someone on the case.
I would recommend that the staff itself, both majority and minority, testify as to the interviews they conducted in a subsequent hearing so that the elected representatives of the American people can come to their own conclusions because, Mr. Chairman, with all due respect, this is not the kind of hearing that I had hoped for.
I yield back.
Chairman HYDE. I now am very pleased
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Chairman, I just want permission to submit my opening statement in support of Mr. King's contentions with regard to this hearing and with regard to the title of the report that suggests
Chairman HYDE. The gentleman already has authority by unanimous consent to have his statement made a part of the record.
Mr. GILMAN. Thank you. And I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for putting Gerry Adams' letter into the record at the onset.
Chairman HYDE. I thank you for thanking me. [Laughter.]
I am now pleased to introduce our distinguished witnesses.
I would first like to welcome Asa Hutchinson, Administrator of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.
Prior to his appointment to DEA, Administrator Hutchinson represented the State of Arkansas in the U.S. Congress. His service included membership in the House Judiciary Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence. He also has served on the Speaker's Task Force For A Drug Free America. Administrator Hutchinson was previously a U.S. attorney for western Arkansas. During his tenure, he personally tried over 100 jury trials and was awarded a citation by the FBI for his successful prosecution of a terrorist group in northern Arkansas, the Covenant Sworn and Arm of the Lord.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As head of DEA, Administrator Hutchinson has concentrated on effective enforcement strategies while recognizing the need for increased treatment and education, and he is doing a great job.
Welcome, Mr. Hutchinson.
Mr. Mark F. Wong is the Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism in the Office of the Secretary of State at the U.S. State Department.
Mr. Wong previously served as Director of Regional Affairs and Principal Deputy Coordinator in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism from 1999 to 2002. He also served as the special assistant to Deputy Secretary of State Talbot from 1995 to 1997.
A career service, foreign service officer, Mr. Wong has served in Mexico, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and is the desk chief for Cambodia-Thailand.
Welcome, Mr. Wong.
I would appreciate both of you summarizing your statements within 5 minutes, give or take, and your full statements will be placed in the hearing record, and we will begin with Administrator Hutchinson.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ASA HUTCHINSON, ADMINISTRATOR, DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION (DEA)
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUTCHINSON. Thank you. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Payne and Members of the Committee.
I would like to thank the Committee for focusing attention on the two great threats to civil society that come from drug trafficking and terrorism, and the greatest challenge of all is when the two become combined.
Drugs and terrorism attack the vital organs of civilization. That principle has been illustrated in Afghanistan where the Taliban provided protection to both heroin traffickers and terrorists. And the dominance of both evils left that country in civil ruin.
I would like to focus my brief remarks this morning on a place that is closer to homeColombia. In Colombia, three terrorist organization are active: the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia); the ELN; and the AUC. Currently, the Colombian government lacks the means and ability to effectively control public order within their national borders.
I have a chart that illustrates the areas of control, first of all, where the coca is grown, and it can be overlaid by the areas of operation of the FARC, the AUC and the ELN, and you can see that the coca fields and the poppy fields are in the same areas in which the terrorist organization have operations. And in these areas of Colombia, the FARC, the ELN, the AUC operate freely, controlling those large geographic regions.
Prior to the government of Colombia reclaiming the demilitarized zone, we knew that the FARC was involved in international drug trafficking, but today for the first time we have ironclad information that the FARC is involved in the cocaine trade from start to finish, from cultivation to processing and distribution.
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In March of this year, the Colombian National Police and the DEA Bogota Country Office conducted seizures of several cocaine hydrochloride and cocaine base laboratories located in the former FARC-controlled demilitarized zone. In addition, numerous items of documentary evidence, approximately 7 tons of cocaine hydrochloride and cocaine base were seized by the CNP. Document exploitation experts reviewed the items seized from two of the laboratories and were able to attribute receipts and related documents to several FARC Fronts.
And I have for display on my left two of the documents that were seized during that operation. The first document is a receipt for 70 kilograms of coca base that was purchased January 8 of 2001 that translates to $28,000 in U.S. currency.
The second receipt is more current time-wise, dated March 13, 2002, and this receipt was issued by the FARC 44th Front, Guillandro. It represents 515 kilograms of coca base that was sold for $695,000 equivalency in U.S. currency. Of course, the amount up in the far right corner is in Colombian pesos, but it represents $695,000 in U.S. currency for 515 kilograms of coca base.
This document exploitation is continuing, but from these documents that were seized we can see that the FARC Fronts have been integrally involved in every level of production, as well as transportation and distribution. Production estimates indicated that just one of the seized labs was producing an average 100 kilograms of cocaine per day with a maximum production rate of 500 kilograms per day.
In addition, on March 18, the Department of Justice indicted three members of the 16th Front of the FARC, including their commander, Tomas Molinas, on charges of conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States. It was the first time that members of a known terrorist organization have been indicted in the United States for their drug trafficking activities.
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In addition to the 16th Front, the 1st, the 7th, the 10th, the 39th and the 44th FARC Fronts delivered cocaine, according to the indictment, to Molinas, and the 16th Front FARC for resale to international drug traffickers. Molinas sold cocaine in exchange for currency, weapons, and equipment.
It is estimated that the FARC and the AUC receive $300 million a year from drug sales to finance their terrorist activities. The question is, what do they do with the money.
Well, with this money the FARC has become the most violent, disruptive and destabilizing terrorist organization in the Western Hemisphere. In Colombia, terrorist acts committed by members of the FARC and the ELN have become more horrific than any person in modern civilized society could imagine.
For example, during only 4 days in April, FARC guerrillas disguised as Colombian army soldiers set off small explosions in downtown Cali. In the ensuing confusion once CNP officer was killed and 12 local legislators were kidnapped. A FARC urban militia unit fired an explosive rocket in an attempt to destroy either a television broadcasting facility or a nearby electrical facility in western Bogota.
In another instance, FARC urban militias exploded a bomb in Barranquilla in a failed attempt to kill front-running Colombian presidential candidate Alvaro Uribe. Three people were killed and 15 people were injured in the attack.
In addition, according to the Colombian government, in 2001, the FARC and the ELN committed 260 terrorist attacks against the Covenas oil pipeline. The results of these terrorist attacks are equivalent to 11 times the spillage of the Exxon Valdez. These acts caused the Colombian government millions of dollars in lost revenue.
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And, finally, as the Chairman has referenced, in August of 2001, three members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army were arrested in Colombia for collaborating with the FARC. The Colombian government alleges that the IRA members were training FARC members in urban terrorism.
Yes, the facts demonstrate that drugs are a funding source for terrorism and violence against government, but it is not just facts, but lives that are involved.
Recently I visited Bogota; it was my third trip to Colombia. I visited the Colombian National Police Hospital. I met five wounded officers who are victims of a car bomb attack by a terrorist near the United States Embassy. Four of these officers will return to duty. One is paralyzed for the rest of his life. He is 24 years old. His name is Freddie Orlando Fernandez.
And so, ladies and gentlemen of the Committee, those are the terrorist activities that are occurring in Colombia, in our hemisphere. These acts are funded by cocaine distribution, cocaine processing, and drug proceeds. In Colombia, we must recognized there is no distinction from the terrorist who kidnap presidential candidates and traffickers who operate the HCL labs and protect the coca fields.
I want to thank the Committee for their attention to this, and I would like, with the Chairman's permission, to play a short video clip of about 1 minute in duration. Brian Andrews of Channel 7, Miami, accompanied me on my recent trip to Bogota, and has this report.
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Chairman HYDE. Without objection, so ordered.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I thank the Committee.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hutchinson follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ASA HUTCHINSON, ADMINISTRATOR, DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION (DEA)
As the tragic events that occurred on September 11, 2001, and the daily terrorist acts carried out by groups in Colombia demonstrate, some terrorist organizations' dependence on and relation to international drug trafficking poses a threat to the national security of the United States and every democratic nation. These groups do not hesitate to use violence and terror to advance their interests, all to the detriment of law-abiding citizens.
Terrorist actions continue to plague Colombia. On April 12, 2002 the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) fired an explosive rocket in an attempt to destroy either an RCN television broadcasting facility or a nearby ETB electrical facility in western Bogota. On April 14, 2002 FARC urban militias exploded a bomb in Barranquilla in a failed attempt to kill front running Colombian presidential candidate Alvaro Uribe. The bomb killed three civilians, and 13 people were injured in the attack.
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Because of DEA's unique position of maintaining offices around the world, our resources will continue to focus on significant drug trafficking organizations, including those who engage in terrorist acts. The current worldwide drug and terrorism situation demands a comprehensive and strategic approach. One of DEA's priorities is the implementation of a Global Heroin Strategy to target, investigate, disrupt and ultimately destroy heroin trafficking organizations having the most impact on the United States. This program has developed strategies for the four source zones in the world: South America, Mexico, Southeast Asia, and Southwest Asia.
Chairman Hyde, Ranking Member Lantos, and distinguished members of the committee, it is a pleasure for me to appear before you for the first time in my capacity as the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). International drug trafficking, terrorism, and money used to finance terrorist acts are subjects of deep concern to DEA, all Americans, and every democratic nation in the world. The committee's leadership and support in our fight against these narco-trafficking organizations is deeply appreciated. I look forward to a successful, productive, and cooperative relationship with this committee on this most important issue.
I appear before you today to testify on the nexus between international drug trafficking, terrorism, and the money that finances narco-terrorist groups. DEA has directed enforcement and intelligence assets to identify, investigate, and dismantle all organizations, including terrorist groups, engaged in the drug trafficking trade.
DEA defines narco-terrorism as a subset of terrorism, in which terrorist groups, or associated individuals, participate directly or indirectly in the cultivation, manufacture, transportation, or distribution of controlled substances and the monies derived from these activities. Further, narco-terrorism may be characterized by the participation of groups or associated individuals in taxing, providing security for, or otherwise aiding or abetting drug trafficking endeavors in an effort to further, or fund, terrorist activities.
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DEA targets the powerful international drug trafficking organizations that operate around the world, which employ thousands of individuals to transport and distribute drugs to American communities. Some of these groups have never hesitated to use violence and terror to advance their interests. While DEA does not specifically target terrorists, we will target and track down drug traffickers and drug trafficking organizations involved in terrorist acts.
My testimony will focus on the narco-terrorist organizations and the illegal drug profits used to support their activity.
The Colombian Narco-Terrorist Threat
Colombia's three major terrorist groups are the FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN), and the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). The FARC membership is estimated to be 12,000 to 18,000 personnel and the ELN maintains 3,000 to 6,000 personnel. The FARC, which is the best-trained and equipped terrorist group in Colombia, asserts influence and varying degrees of control on large areas of Colombia's eastern lowlands and rain forest, which are the primary coca cultivation and cocaine processing regions in the country. The ELN operates primarily along Colombia's northeastern border with Venezuela and in central and northwestern Colombia, including Colombia's cannabis and opium poppy growing areas.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Right wing ''self-defense groups'' emerged in Colombia during the 1980s in response to insurgent violence. Hundreds of illegal self-defense groupsfinanced by wealthy cattle ranchers, emerald miners, coffee plantation owners, drug traffickers, etc.conduct paramilitary operations throughout Colombia. The loose coalition known as the AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia) is the best known of these self-defense groups and has an estimated strength of 10,500 personnel.
DEA has established that these terrorist groups are involved in various aspects of drug trafficking activity including but not limited to: raising funds through extortion or protection of laboratory operations and clandestine airstrips; encouraging coca planting and discouraging alternative development; purchasing, transporting, and reselling cocaine within Colombia; and the distribution of cocaine to international drug trafficking organizations.
In late February 2002, peace negotiations between the Government of Colombia and the FARC broke down after the hijacking of an Avianca flight and the subsequent kidnapping of a Colombian Senator and others who were on board the aircraft. After three years of failed peace negotiations between the Colombian Government and the FARC, President Andres Pastrana ordered the Colombian Armed Forces to enter the FARC safe-haven and re-establish government control.
In March 2002, the Colombian National Police (CNP), with the support and assistance of the DEA Bogota Country Office, conducted seizures of several cocaine hydrochloride and cocaine base laboratories located in the former FARC-controlled demilitarized zone located along the Rio Guayabero in the Meta Department. In addition to numerous items of documentary evidence, approximately seven tons of cocaine hydrochloride and cocaine base and were seized by the CNP.
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Document exploitation experts reviewed items seized from two of the laboratories and identified documents related to several FARC Fronts. Documents seized included production ledgers, records showing the purchase of chemicals, and receipts of cocaine base purchases. The receipts seized from one of these laboratories bear stamps from three FARC Fronts indicating that members from these Fronts personally sold cocaine base to laboratory operators.
Production estimates indicated one of the seized laboratories was producing an average of 100 kilograms of cocaine per day with a maximum production rate of over 500 kilograms per day.
On March 18, 2002 Attorney General John Ashcroft and I announced the unsealing of a Federal indictment against seven defendants, three of whom are members of the 16th FARC Front. This case, conducted by DEA's Bogota and Brasilia, Brazil Country Offices, the government of Colombia, with assistance from the Department of Justice Criminal Division Attorneys, is the first time that members of a known terrorist organization have been indicted in the United States for their drug trafficking activity.
This indictment charges that between 1994 and 2001, the commander of the 16th Front, Tomas Molina Caracas and other members of the 16th Front engaged in drug trafficking from the town of Barranco Minas, a remote village in Eastern Colombia near the Venezuelan border. The indictment alleges that Molina collected cocaine processed in laboratories along the Guaviare River and sold it to international cocaine traffickers. Cocaine obtained from Molina was ultimately transported to the United States, Brazil, Suriname, Paraguay, Mexico, and Spain. In addition, the 1st, 7th, 10th, 39th, and 44th FARC Fronts delivered cocaine to Molina and the 16th FARC Front for the cocaine to be sold to international drug traffickers. According to the indictment, cocaine was sold in exchange for currency, weapons, and equipment.
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Colombia Terrorist Activity
Violent actions continue to be carried out by terrorist groups in Colombia, particularly the FARC and ELN. Recent terrorist actions conducted in Colombia include:
On April 11, 2002, FARC guerillas disguised as Colombian Army soldiers set off small explosions in downtown Cali, Valle Del Cauca. In the ensuing confusion, one CNP officer was killed and 12 members of the departmental assembly (local legislators) were kidnapped.
On April 12, 2002 a FARC Urban militia unit fired an explosive rocket in an attempt to destroy either an RCN television broadcasting facility or a nearby ETB electrical facility in western Bogota.
On April 14, 2002, FARC urban militias exploded a bomb in Barranquilla in a failed attempt to kill front running Colombian presidential candidate Alvaro Uribe. Three people were killed and 15 people were injured in the attack.
On April 15, 2002, the Colombian Army and Air Force reportedly destroyed a small private aircraft bearing Venezuelan markings that was equipped to drop bombs. Colombian military intelligence reported that it was part of an attempt to attack the capital in the department of Arauca.
On April 21, 2002, the FARC kidnapped the governor of Antioquia Department, the former Colombia Minister of Defense, an American citizen and several priests while the group was conducting a march protesting violence in Colombia. The FARC continues to hold the governor and former Minister of Defense.
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According to the Government of Colombia, the FARC and ELN committed 260 terrorist attacks against the Covenas oil pipeline. The results of these terrorist attacks are equivalent to 11 times the spillage of the Exxon Valdez. These acts cost the Colombian government millions of dollars in revenue.
The violent activities of the FARC and other groups have not been limited to the country of Colombia. Information from the region indicates the FARC has become a destabilizing force. The FARC's violence and coca processing activities have spread to Panama. Venezuela, too, is experiencing increased violence, causing some cattle ranchers to hire additional security personnel to counter the FARC's efforts.
In addition, in 2001, three members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were arrested in Colombia for collaborating with the FARC. The Colombian government asserts that the IRA members were training FARC members in urban terrorism. The three men have been charged with travelling on false passports and providing the FARC with weapons instruction.
In 2001, there has been increased reporting of suspected FARC drug trafficking activity in the Darien Province of Panama. Intelligence suggests that small-scale coca cultivation has resumed in the Darien Province border region and apparently is expanding. These reports of drug activity substantiate earlier unconfirmed sightings of limited coca cultivation in the Darien Province along the Colombian border in regions under the 57th FARC Front influence.
There have been reports of the FARC 57th Front incursions into Panama's Darien Province near Jaqué, the last sizeable village on the Pacific Coast north of the Colombian border. There have also been reports of clandestine laboratory activity in the Darien Province area; but as yet, there has not been ground verification. The guerilla tactics employed by the FARC in these areas inhibits ground action by law enforcement.
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Islamic Extremists in the Triborder AreaHezbollah and Hamas
The triborder area of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil continues to be a haven for Islamic extremists. The two major terrorist organizations in the triborder area are Hezbollah and the Islamic Resistance Movement known as HAMAS.
It is suspected that their illegal activities range from producing counterfeit U.S. currency to smuggling illegal substances through the triborder area. The situation in the triborder area highlights the ease with which terrorist organizations can infiltrate and assimilate in other countries and go relatively undetected for an extended period of time.
Peru's Sendero Luminoso: The Shining Path
Sendero Luminoso (SL) is an extremely violent armed group that sought to overthrow the Peruvian government and establish a communist agrarian state from the 1980's to the mid 1990's. SL has historically operated from bases in remote regions of Peru that also held the main coca growing areas. DEA reporting indicates that the group has probably extracted revolutionary taxes from the cocaine base operators.
Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
The Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) organization was founded in 1959 with the goal of establishing an independent homeland based on Marxist principles in several provinces of northern Spain and southwestern France. In November 1999, ETA ended a long period of cease-fire, resuming its campaign of bombings and assassinations, killing 23 individuals and wounding many more by the end of 2000.
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Given their common language and culture, ETA is known to maintain contacts with similar organizations in South America. Funding for ETA's activities is derived from a variety of sources, including kidnapping for ransom, robbery, and extortion. Drug profits may be among the funding sources.
Afghanistan, The Taliban, and Osama Bin Laden
The Islamic State of Afghanistan is a major source country for the cultivation, processing and trafficking of opiate and cannabis products. Afghanistan produced over 70 percent of the world's supply of illicit opium in 2000. Morphine base, heroin and hashish produced in Afghanistan are trafficked worldwide. Due to the warfare-induced decimation of the country's economic infrastructure, narcotics have been a major source of income in Afghanistan.
U.S. intelligence confirmed a connection between Afghanistan's former ruling Taliban and international terrorist Osama Bin Laden and the al-Qa'ida organization. DEA has received multi-source information that Bin Laden has suspected involvement in the financing and facilitation of heroin trafficking activities. While the activities of the two entities do not always follow the same course, we know that drugs and terror frequently share the common ground of geography, money, and violence.
According to the official U.S. Government estimates for 2001, Afghanistan produced an estimated 74 metric tons of opium. This is a significant decrease from the 3,656 metric tons of opium produced from 64,510 hectares of land under opium poppy cultivation in 2000. Cultivation and production estimates for the spring 2002 opium crop differ widely, but even under the most conservative estimate, Afghanistan has the capability to return as one of the largest opium producers in the world.
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The head of Afghanistan's provisional government, Hamid Karzai, supports the eradication of opium poppy cultivation. Interim president Karzai renewed the Taliban's ban on poppy cultivation and drug production in January 2002 and called upon the international community to support his efforts.
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
Historic DEA information indicates that the PKK members are involved in the taxation of drug shipments and the protection of drug traffickers throughout the Southeastern Region of Turkey and other areas of operation.
The United Wa State Army
Methamphetamine and heroin trafficking finances the efforts of the 20,000 strong United Wa State Army (UWSA). The UWSA exists primarily as a separatist organization, seeking autonomy from the central government in Burma. It funds its separatist activities by being the major international drug trafficking organization in the region. The UWSA is characterized as a narco-trafficking organization but is not deemed to be a terrorist organization at this time.
THE FINANCING OF TERRORIST NETWORKS WITH DRUG MONEY
Narco-terrorist organizations in Colombia, Afghanistan, and other areas of the world generate millions of dollars in narcotics-related revenues to facilitate their terrorist activities. Tracking and intercepting the unlawful flow of drug money is an important tool in identifying and dismantling international drug trafficking organizations with ties to terrorism. The attacks carried out on our nation on September 11, 2001 graphically illustrated the need to starve the financial base of every terrorist organization and deprive them of drug revenue that is used to fund acts of terror.
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FARC 1ST Front ''Guillermo''
70 kilograms (Coca Base)
$28,832.95 U.S. Currency
January 8, 2001
In order to dismantle narco-terrorist organizations, one must not only arrest and prosecute the leaders of the organization, but also expose their supporting financial infrastructure and seize and forfeit assets acquired by them. The cells of terrorists are dispersed beyond the geographic boundaries of a specific country, much like international drug syndicates. Accordingly, DEA's approach to both the drug trade and the terror network must be equally global in scope.
According to ONDCP, Americans spend $64 billion on illegal narcotics annually, most of it in cash. To avoid detection, these organizations have developed a number of money laundering systems in attempts to avoid financial transaction reporting requirements and manipulate facets of the economy unrelated to the traditional financial services industry.
The Black Market Peso Exchange System (BMPE) is a significant money-laundering system used by Colombian narcotics traffickers. The BMPE is a trade-based money-laundering scheme that handles billions of dollars in drug money annually. It is among the primary means by which cartels convert U.S.-based drug dollars into ''clean'' pesos in Colombia. The BMPE has a devastating impact on Colombia's economy by fostering a contraband trade that undercuts legitimate businesses and deprives the Colombian government of hundreds of millions in tax revenue. The exact size and structure of the BMPE system cannot be determined with any degree of precision. However, based on intelligence related information, it is believed that between $3 billion and $6 billion is laundered annually.
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The BMPE process begins when a Colombian drug organization arranges the shipment of drugs to the United States. The drugs are sold in the United States in exchange for U.S. currency. This U.S. currency is then sold to a Colombian black market peso broker's agent located in the United States. Once the dollars are delivered to the agent of the Colombian peso broker in the United States, the peso broker in Colombia deposits the agreed upon equivalent in Colombian pesos into the organization's account in Colombia.
DEA's Bogota Country Office, in cooperation with the Colombian Department of Administrative Security (DAS), have created a Special Investigative Unit (SIU) that focuses their efforts on financial investigations and combating criminal organizations involved in illegal money laundering schemes. The SIU is comprised of elite law enforcement officers selected from within the ranks of the DAS. Each SIU member undergoes a strict ''vetting'' process, designed to ensure honesty and integrity and further, receives specialized investigative training. This SIU is headquartered in Bogota, but has the ability to respond to and investigate activities throughout Colombia.
The DAS/DEA SIU, working with the Special Operations Division, a multi-agency (DEA, FBI, USCS, IRS Criminal Investigators, and DOJ/Criminal Division) coordination and law enforcement intelligence analysis unit, was instrumental in the successful conclusion of ''Operation Wirecutter''. This operation was a multi-agency investigation targeting peso brokers operating in Colombia and represented the first time that U.S. authorities were able to combine undercover pick-ups of drug proceeds in the United States with investigative efforts by Colombian authorities to target money brokers. Thus far, the undercover investigation resulted in the arrest of 37 individuals29 in the United States and 8 senior money brokers in Colombia. It is believed that the 8 Colombians arrested have a combined 50-years experience laundering drug money for the Colombian cartels. U.S. authorities also seized approximately 8 million dollars, 400 kilograms of cocaine, 100 kilograms of marijuana, and 6.5 kilograms of heroin.
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In April 2002, the Bogota Country Office DAS/SIU, concluded Operation Broker I, II, and III. These operations resulted in the arrest of 53 Colombian nationals, seizure of four airplanes utilized to smuggle U.S. currency to Panama, as well as jewelry from Panama to Colombia, 36 kilograms of gold jewelry, 1067 kilograms of silver jewelry, $569,795 in U.S. currency, and 181,000,000 Colombian pesos. It is also estimated that approximately 10 million dollars real property in Colombia will be seized for forfeiture from defendants as a result of this investigation. The defendants were responsible for laundering approximately 200 million dollars through accounts associated with this investigation.
The Hawala system is an underground, traditional, informal network that has been used for centuries by businesses and families throughout Asia. This system provides a confidential, convenient, efficient service at a low cost in areas that are not served by traditional banking facilities. The hawala or hundi system leaves no ''paper trail'' for investigators to follow. In the United States, hawala brokers tend to own high-volume, primarily cash businesses that cater to immigrants. In this process, an individual gives a hawala broker a sum of money and asks that the same amount be delivered to someone in another country. The broker contacts, often through the Internet and e-mail, a hawala broker in the city where the money is to be delivered, and instructs that broker to deliver the money to the recipient. Consequently, funds are exchanged without physical movement of the currency. The brokers make money by charging a fee for their services.
DEA has targeted and will continue to target trafficking groups that are using the hawala system to further their drug trafficking activity.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTHE INTERNATIONAL ROLE OF DEA
DEA maintains offices around the world; these offices are in a unique position to collect drug intelligence from human sources and contribute to the formation of more effective cooperative law enforcement relationships in their respective areas. The existence of a trusted cadre of counterparts such as Colombia's SIU is an invaluable asset for DEA in any arena of operations.
With the support of the Congress, DEA has implemented its SIU program in nine countries to include Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Pakistan, Thailand, and the Dominican Republic. The SIU program has effectively enhanced international cooperation and institution building within the host government's infrastructure.
DEA Program Initiatives:
DEA is requesting in its FY 2003 Budget $4.1 million and 20 agents to strengthen resources for drug related financial investigations to enhance assets of domestic field offices, with emphasis on the financial hubs of New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. DEA has been successful in investigating and dismantling money laundering organizations, but we are limited in our resources. DEA must improve its ability to monitor and track the financial holdings and transactions of drug trafficking organizations, especially with the demonstrated nexus between the profits from drug trafficking, terrorist activities, and violence.
In the course of conducting daily investigations against international drug trafficking organizations, the DEA often uncovers information of other related crimes, including money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities. The President's FY 2003 Budget Proposal also includes $35 million and 73 positions (including 12 Special Agents and 33 Intelligence Analysts) requested in the Attorney General's Counter-Terrorism Fund to enhance DEA's communications interception and intelligence capabilities in support of agencies conducting counter-terrorism in America and overseas. An additional $6.5 million and 45 positions is also included in the FY 2003 Federal Bureau of Investigations' Budget to continue reimbursing DEA for its counter-terrorism support. This reimbursement began with the passage of the first counter-terrorism supplemental in FY 2002
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The DEA Financial Investigations Section has personnel assigned as DEA liaisons to both the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Terrorist Financial Review Group, responsible for tracing terrorist-related monies.
The DEA Intelligence Division has temporarily created a six-person Intelligence Response Team that can deploy worldwide to provide intelligence support related to narco-traffickers and other trafficking groups. This intelligence support includes but is not limited to, source debriefings, document exploitation, and region analysis.
The current worldwide heroin situation demands that DEA respond globally and strategically. DEA has developed a Global Heroin Strategy to target and investigate heroin trafficking organizations having the most impact on the United States. This program has developed strategies for the four source zones in the world: South America, Mexico, Southeast Asia, and Southwest Asia. DEA has recently proposed a reprogramming of prior year funds totaling $35.6 million to significantly enhance our enforcement efforts targeting heroin in three of these regions: Southwest Asia, Southeast Asia and Colombia.
Operation Containment, which focuses on Southwest Asia, is a proposed DEA initiative which includes opening a DEA office in Kabul, Afghanistan and the expansion of existing offices in Asian and European cities.
To address Southeast Asian heroin, DEA is proposing the establishment of new offices in Kunming, Peoples Republic of China, and Vancouver, Canada, as well as the expansion of our offices in Beijing and Rangoon. The United Wa State Army is a highly trained ethnic group responsible for approximately 80 percent of the heroin produced in Southeast Asia. Most of Southeast Asia's heroin is shipped through Southern China's deep-water ports, and that which is destined for the United States typically enters the country through the Vancouver area.
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To address heroin trafficking in South America, the program would establish a Bogota Heroin Group to initiate additional investigations against the major Colombian trafficking groups operating there.
This entire $39.6 million reprogramming proposal is currently before the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees for review. The timely support of this Committee for this reprogramming would be very helpful and greatly appreciated.
Narco-terrorists challenge the flexibility and resilience of all law enforcement agencies. The Drug Enforcement Administration remains committed to identify, investigate, and destroy criminal and terrorist groups involved in drug trafficking. DEA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners around the world to improve our cooperative enforcement efforts against international drug organizations.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the Committee today. I will be happy to respond to any questions you may have at the appropriate time.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Hutchinson.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MARK F. WONG, DEPUTY COORDINATOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM, OFFICE OF SECRETARY OF STATE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
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Mr. WONG. Thank you Chairman Hyde, Ranking Member Lantos, Distinguished Members
Chairman HYDE. Can you move the microphone over closer?
Mr. WONG. Let me try that again. Is that better, sir?
Chairman HYDE. That is good.
Mr. WONG. Thank you Chairman, Hyde, Ranking Member Lantos, Distinguished Members of the Committee. I am honored to be here today to discuss this very important subject and to share this panel with Administrator Hutchinson.
I have submitted for the record a statement regarding the international aspect of terrorism. I would like to add a few words to place the issue of narco-terrorism in Colombia in a broader context.
In the 3 years that I have spent with the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism, we have focused on the key ingredients that the most lethal terrorist groups seem to have in common. Those are: a secure base or safe haven from which to operate; secure sources of funding; and the ability to move and operate internationally.
Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network found safe haven in the Sudan, and then in Afghanistan under the Taliban. From these relatively lawless states, he was able to build a sophisticated international terrorist network with global reach and capable of the deadly attacks we witnessed on September 11th.
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In Afghanistan, we track what we call the Afghan Alumni, terrorists from different countries, of different nationalities who train together and graduated from the terrorist training camps to carry forward a terrorist agenda in different parts of the world.
Every day from our current military effort in Afghanistan we learn more about the nature of the terrorist complex that existed there. We learn, for example, from video tapes seized from al-Qaeda hideouts in Afghanistan about surveillance and plans to attack U.S. interests in Singapore by al-Qaeda-linked cells.
Safe haven, money, terrorist training in Afghanistan, these have helped launch terrorist operations around the world.
In this hemisphere, we have extremely lethal home grown terrorist organizations that do not have global reach, but that do operate transnationally and with international linkages. The most prominent example is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC.
Now, just as al-Qaeda's attacks on the World Trade Center, with all the tragic death and destruction involved, constituted what President Bush termed an attack on the heart and soul of the civilized world, the FARC's ruthless assault on innocent Colombians and Colombia's democratic institutions must also be viewed as part of terrorism's attack on civilization everywhere.
Just as al-Qaeda exploited the Sudan and then Afghanistan as safe havens from which to operate, the FARC has exploited its safe haven in Colombia to build up its membership, hold hostages and grow illegal narcotics.
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For these reasons, we supported President Pastrana's bold decision in February to reclaim the despeje demilitarized zone and the safe haven. My colleague, Administrator Hutchinson, has comprehensively detailed in his testimony the FARC's use of narcotics to fund its terrorist enterprise.
We want, as well, to focus on the other forms of terrorist criminality in which the FARC excels; kidnapping and extortion are one key example. Never in the history of humanity have we witnessed as sophisticated a kidnapping and extortion enterprise as that operated by the FARC and their fellow terrorists in recent years in Colombia. On average over the past 3 years, there have been nearly 10 kidnapping per day, more than 3,000 per year. In 2001, over 3,000 Colombians were killed in terrorist violence, and another 2,856 were kidnapped with the ELN, the FARC and the AUC accounting for almost 2,000 victims.
Among the kidnapped victims were 289 children, the youngest of whom was 3 years old. It is not just Colombians that are being abducted. In the last decade more than 70 Americans have been abducted by terrorist and criminal groups in Colombia, and at least 13 have died.
The FARC crossed international lines when it murdered three American NGO workers in Venezuela in 1999 and when it kidnapped three American missionaries in Panama in 1993, now presumed dead.
FARC terrorism has corroded civilized life in Colombia and also affects the entire region, and this is why the aspect of international linkages raised by the Colombian government's arrest of three alleged Irish Republican Army members merits such great concern.
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We await the conclusion of Colombia's legal process to shed light on what the Irish nationals were up to. Colombia has indicted them on passport and illicit training charges. We too are concerned that the recent dramatic increase in the FARC's explosives capabilities could be related to the presence of these three IRA members in Colombia. We know that the FARC, for example, has begun to use secondary explosive devices. Primary explosions draw rescue personnel and bomb technicians and civilian on-lookers. The secondary explosion then kills those that have gathered. This is a known signature IRA urban terror tactic and not previously part of the FARC operating manual. There may be other explanations, but we need to analyze and understand all the evidence as it becomes available to us.
On the FARC/IRA relationship, Ambassador Richard Haass in the State Department, the President's point man for Northern Ireland, has stated repeatedly that the United States can have no tolerance for any support for the FARC from the IRA, and that we must continue bolstering the political will and capacity of our friends to join us in the campaign against terrorism, and to take up the battle themselves on their home grounds.
With that in mind, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Committee for its focus on the narco-terrorism issue today and highlight the Administration's request that we be given the tools we need to fight terrorism more effectively in Colombia.
In Colombia, those tools include expanding our legal authorities to assist the Colombian government in its unified campaign against terrorism and narcotics trafficking.
Thank you very much.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Wong follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MARK F. WONG, DEPUTY COORDINATOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM, OFFICE OF SECRETARY OF STATE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee,
I am pleased to be here today to speak to you about the global reach of terrorist organizations. I'll also address the international activities of several organizations previously believed to operate on a strictly local or regional basis, such as the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC.)
Terrorist groups, just like businesses, are ''going global''although for nefarious reasons. Globalization allows terror groups to increase their reach and effectiveness, while decreasing the risk of a catastrophic counter-attack. It enables them to build ties with other terrorist groups.
The most prominent example of the globalization of terror is al Qa'ida. One of the most iron ic aspects of al-Qa'ida is the manner in which Usama bin Laden and his operativeswho are known to espouse a quasi-medieval worldviewhave exploited the very international communications and financial mechanisms that they profess to wish to destroy. Bruce Hoffman of the RAND Corporation has compared bin Laden to a modern Chief Executive Officer of a large multinational business. He describes al Qa'ida as an umbrella organization that allows disparate and far-flung cellssub-organizations with similar worldview and objectivesto operate in a concerted manner using al Qa'ida funds, but having only limited direct contact with headquarters. Al-Qa'ida's verified presence in more than half of the countries of the world speaks volumes about its level of sophistication, and further underscores their current posture as ''enemy number one'' of the United States and most of the free world.
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Al-Qa'ida is the most visible of the terrorist organizations with global reach, but, unfortunately, it is not the only one. In the post 9/11 world, the intense focus of our intelligence and law enforcement organizations on terrorism has helped us uncover valuable data on terrorism's evolving international aspect. Their analysis points to terrorist groups that have a mature operating structure, with the sophistication to support international cells with dedicated objectives. Lebanese Hizballah is a notable example.
Hizballah is a multi-faceted, multinational organization with broader penetration in the Western Hemisphere than any other terrorist organization. Hizballah has a presence in virtually every country in North and South America, including the United States and Canada. Hizballah relies upon legal and illegal business activities to help fund their operations in the Middle East. Those operations include legitimate humanitarian and religious enterprises, but they also include terrorism.
Hizballah's Islamic Jihad Organization, or IJO, headed by Imad Mugniyah, is blamed for killing more Americans overseas than any other terrorist organization, including al Qa'ida. Hizballah's IJO is believed responsible for the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, and a Hizballah explosives expert is believed to have constructed the bomb with which Saudi Hizballah attacked Khobar towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996. In Latin America, Hizballah is the prime suspect in the 1992 bombing of Israeli Embassy in Argentina and of the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israel Mutual Association (AMIA) Cultural Center. In short, Hizballah has global reach and a bloody track record in this hemisphere.
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I would like to turn to international terrorist threats to Americans and American interests in our own hemisphere. In doing so, I will also examine the disturbing prospect of collaboration among terrorist groups, including the FARCIRA connection that I understand to be of particular interest to this Committee. To illustrate these connections, and to prepare the ground for our distinguished international visitor, General Tapias, I will use Colombia as an example.
COLOMBIA'S WORSENING TERRORIST SITUATION
Colombia, statistically, is the world's most terrorism-afflicted nation. In 2001, for example, 55 percent of all terrorist attacks on U.S. interests abroad occurred in Colombia. Colombia suffered more terrorist abductions than were recorded in the rest of the world's countries combined. These abductions include five American citizens in 2001 and more than 70 Americans in the past decade. Of those abductees, 13 were murdered, and three more remain unaccounted for.
The 16,000 member FARC is the world's largest terrorist organization and perhaps its richest, while the 9,000 member United Defense Group of Colombia (AUC) is Latin America's largest right-wing paramilitary organization. And the Government of ColombiaLatin America's oldest democracyhas yet to come to terms with yet a third terrorist organization, the 4,000 member National Liberation Army, or ELN.(see footnote 1) All three groups are formally designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the Department of State.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC With such a formidable array of terrorists struggling to destabilize the democratically-elected Colombian government, it is especially frustrating to see indications of the arrival of an extraterritorial player such as members of the Irish Republican Army.
On the alleged connection between the FARC and the Provisional IRA,(see footnote 2) I would like to start by commending this Committee for undertaking an exhaustive investigation that necessitated thousands of travel miles and many hours of interviews. I would also like to note that the criminal proceedings against the three presumed IRA operatives in Colombia are ongoing, and that our government believes Colombia's judicial processes should be allowed to reach their conclusions unhindered by anything we say here today. The Colombians have made it clear that this case is important to them, and we believe that justice will be done there.
With that said, we cannot ignore the fact that, since January 1, the FARC has dramatically increased the tempo and nature of their attacks on civilians and infrastructure in Colombia. We have also seen a jump in sophistication in the use of explosives and other urban terror tactics that are similar to those employed by the IRA. Again, we are counting on the Colombian legal system to uncover the truth in this situation. If the three men in question are proved to have aided and abetted the FARC, thereby increasing FARC ability to kill, maim and terrorize civilians, we hope the Colombian judge will sentence these men in a manner commensurate with such a crime.
The Administration has made it abundantly clear to all parties involved that we have no tolerance for any support for the FARC from the IRA. If we were to discover evidence of any such on-going support, it would raise fundamental questions for U.S. foreign policy. We also remain concerned about the potential of any past relationship between the FARC and the IRA to affect stability in Colombia as well as U.S. interests there. Our primary focus remains on ensuring that there is no current or future cooperation between these organizations.
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Before concluding, I would like to mention a few positive developments related to the international nature of terrorism. First, in terms of globalization, the terrorists have nothing on the U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition. Our response to international terrorists is to attack them internationally. We are fighting terror at home and abroad through military action, diplomacy, intelligence, financial coordination, law enforcement, humanitarian programs, and public relations. What makes the current campaign so effective is the breadth and depth of our coordinated approach, and our commitment not only to keeping the political will of our partners focused on the task at hand, but in building their own internal capacities to fight terrorism.
With that concept in mind, I wish to conclude these remarks with a reiteration of the Administration's request, outlined in the recent emergency counterterrorism supplemental request, that we be given the tools we need to fight the war on terrorism effectively. These tools include expanding our legal authorities in Colombia to address the reality of terrorism. I would be happy to take your questions. Thank you.
Chairman HYDE. We will have a round of questions if that is agreeable with you, and then we will move to our next witness. I have the first question for Administrator Hutchinson.
What, if anything, did you learn from Colombian authorities on the impact of alleged IRA training of the FARC?
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUTCHINSON. The information that I have would be both from Colombian government sources as well as information that is separately available, and the information that I learned is in terms of the allegations of the charges that are pending in Colombia. There is the suspicion that there is a connection to these three members of the IRA that were arrested in Colombia in August of 2001.
The information is that they were providing explosive training to the FARC. One of the men is described as specializing in improvised mortars within the IRA, a technique used by the FARC. Reports suggest that the IRA members conducted training sessions for the FARC on how to build and handle mortars, land mines and explosive charges, and the operation of missile launchers, and that training manuals and maps found in the prisoner's possession in Colombia were identical to material used by the IRA in Ireland. This is the information that I can shed light upon and provide to the Committee.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you.
Mr. GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And again I thank you for putting in the record Mr. Adams' letter that denies any connection to the alleged terrorist activities in Colombia. Mr. Adams has repeatedly stated Sinn Fein's opposition to international terrorism and has rejected any interference on behalf of his party into the affairs of any sovereign power.
And I address to the panelists, do we have any evidence that refutes Mr. Adams' assertion that Sinn Fein is innocent of these allegations? Is there any evidence that refutes Mr. Adams' statements in connection with this issue?
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Mr. HUTCHINSON. Mr. Gilman, the evidence is something that will be presented in trial in Colombia, and the evidence that I am aware of is as I stated it, which is that there is evidence of three individuals with IRA membership or connections that were arrested with evidence linking them to training in the FARC territory of FARC personnel.
Mr. GILMAN. But, Mr. Hutchinson, if I might interrupt. Besides the fact that three Irishmen have been arrested, who allegedly were doing some training, is there any evidence of the links of these three men with Mr. Adams, and at Mr. Adams' direction going to Colombia to pursue this kind of illicit activity?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I do not know at whose direction they were acting.
Mr. GILMAN. All right. And I ask our other panelist, do you have any evidence of Mr. Adams' connection with regard to these three Irishmen?
Mr. WONG. Sir, I am mindful of the Colombian trial process that is underway, and
Mr. GILMAN. Would you put your microphone on, please?
Mr. WONG. Sorry, sir. Here we go.
I am mindful of the Colombian trial process that is underway, and of the distinguished visitor that will follow this panel.
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The clear answer is at this point I am not in a position to comment or make a judgment about the connection of who knew what, when.
Mr. GILMAN. Thank you.
I have stated my concerns regarding the direction of this hearing and the potential negative consequences it could have on the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland. At the heart of the matter is the implication that Sinn Fein bears responsibility for the actions of these three Irishmen who were arrested in Colombia on charges of aiding the FARC, and I have not seen any evidence linking the alleged actions of these men to the Sinn Fein party or to Mr. Adams, nor am I aware that the Colombian government is asserting such a claim in this case.
Am I accurate with regard to that assessment? And I address that to both panelists.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. It is our responsibility as witnesses here to state the facts. I have stated the facts as we know them. Clearly, this is a matter that will have ongoing revelation as to the facts. Perhaps the subsequent witness will have as well. But I think, as far as any connections, that story has not been revealed in terms of the facts at this point.
Mr. GILMAN. Thank you. And my other panelist?
Mr. WONG. I will agree completely with that statement, that the allegations are profoundly disturbing. They merit looking into
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Mr. GILMAN. I am not asking whether they are disturbing. I am asking whether there are any links that you have found in reviewing the evidentiary matter?
Mr. WONG. At this point I am not in a position to say that there are any links.
Mr. GILMAN. Thank you very much, and thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. Mr. Delahunt. Mr. Lantos. Mr. Crowley.
Mr. CROWLEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First, let me align myself with the remarks made by Mr. Gilman in his questioning.
I have been perusing a sheet that has been handed to, I guess, all the Members of the Committee outlining suggested questions by Committee Members to the witnesses today before us, all of which, in my opinion, and it is only my opinion at this point, Mr. Chairman, are clearly to take aim to link the IRA directly with the FARC. At the same time, at least from the two testimonies we have heard so far, there has been very, very little mention in Mr. Hutchinson's statement until the very, very end about the IRA, and issues that you have brought up are important.
As Mr. Gilman has mentioned earlier, we are talking about three individuals who have been apprehended in Colombia, Irish nationals. They have yet to be tried in Colombia. That process is on its way. I am concerned about holding these hearings before these individuals have had a fair trial in Colombia, regardless as to what the outcome may be. I am concerned about the focus and direction of these hearings as well, and I think that these questions that were given us show the intent, unfortunately, I think, the foregone conclusion that this Committee has made prior to even the commencing of these hearings.
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Mr. Chairman, at this time I am going to reserve my right to ask questions.
Chairman HYDE. Mr. King.
Mr. KING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me thank both witnesses for their testimony.
And let me just ask Administrator Hutchinson: The title of the hearing is ''International Global Terrorism: Its Links with Illicit Drugs As Illustrated by the IRA.'' Leaving aside the merits of the particular case in Colombia, in your capacity as the Administrator of the DEA, do you have any evidence at all of the IRA being involved in international drug dealing?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. No.
Mr. KING. Okay. Mr. Wong, since we are talking about the question what the IRA's motive may have been, it seems to me the motive could only be if they somehow intend to resume a war in Northern Ireland; that the only purposeif they are there to test weapons, to attain money, it would seem to meto go back to war in Northern Ireland.
Let me ask you, does the State Department or the Administration have any evidence whatsoever that the IRA is not fully complying with the peace process in Ireland?
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WONG. No, sir, we do not. They are observing the cease fire under the Good Friday Accord.
Mr. KING. Is it not also a fact that the IRA decommissioned weapons both last fall and again just several weeks ago?
Mr. WONG. That is correct.
Mr. KING. Is it not also a fact that the Loyalist para-militaries who will be the adversaries of the IRA have not decommissioned any weapons at all since the Good Friday Agreement was entered into 4 years ago?
Mr. WONG. I am not actually in a position to make a judgment about that. I do have a good friend, an Ambassador, who is in the lead on that issue back at the department, but I have not heard any information to indicate that.
Mr. KING. We are talking about Ambassador Haass?
Mr. WONG. That is right. That is correct.
Mr. KING. Is it not a fact that since last August when these charges first became known, that Ambassador Haass has continued to deal with Sinn Fein on a regular basis?
Mr. WONG. That is my understanding.
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Mr. KING. And he has continued to deal with Gerry Adams and Mark McGinnus and the other leaders of Sinn Fein on a regular basis?
Mr. WONG. That is correct.
Mr. KING. Are you aware of any time that Mr. Haass has ever suggested that either Mr. Adams or Mr. McGinnus or any other leader of Sinn Fein has ever deceived or misled the American government?
Mr. WONG. I am not in a position to speak for Ambassador Haass on that. I do not know any evidence to indicate that what you have said has occurred at any time. I will go back and talk to Ambassador Haass and provide you a full answer for the record.
Mr. KING. Fine. Thank you.
Also, are you aware at any time during the 30 years of the struggle in Northern Ireland that the IRA ever took any offensive action at all against interests of the United States, any American citizens, any American nationals?
Mr. WONG. I cannot make a categorical statement like that. I would really want to look into them and that history, sir.
[The information referred to follows:]
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCRESPONSE SUBMITTED AFTER THE HEARING BY THE HONORABLE MARK F. WONG TO QUESTION ASKED BY THE HONORABLE PETE KING, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
I am unaware of any IRA attack that was shown to have deliberately targeted an American citizen or an American national. In the past, IRA members and individuals associated with the IRA have been accused and convicted of violating U.S. law with illegal procurement of weapons and gun smuggling.
Mr. KING. Okay. Also, in your testimony you referred to the reams of evidence that we are uncovering in Afghanistan about international terrorist networks. Has anything at all been uncovered in Afghanistan linking the IRA to any of these organizations, such as al-Qaeda or Hizballah?
Mr. WONG. Not to my knowledge.
Mr. KING. Mr. Wong, you suggested thatactually you stated that we must fully analyze the evidence as to what is coming out in Colombia, and I agree with you completely. But are you aware of any evidence that has come out today either in your testimony or Mr. Hutchinson's testimony which adds to what we knew back in August of last year, that three men with IRA links were arrested in Colombia?
Mr. WONG. I think that we will need to evaluate fully all the information that comes out of the current trial process in consultation with our Colombian friends, and I believe we will learn more. I think we see disturbing signs of their activities there not being completely innocent, and as a trained skeptic, I have to keep an open mind that the presence there will need explanation. I do not think we fully have the picture of that. I think the signs are profoundly disturbing.
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Mr. KING. I agree with you about these three individuals. Certainly the evidence seems to be significant, but I do not want to prejudge the case either.
But again, assuming that all the evidence against them is true and is valid, does the Administration, or for that matter, does the DEA have any evidence whatsoever that the actions by these three Irish nationals were in any way approved by the IRA army council?
Mr. WONG. I do not have any information at this point that indicates something like that.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. We do not know whether they are acting on their own or at the direction of someone else.
Mr. KING. Have you been in contact with any other intelligence agencies indicating that this was sanctioned at higher levels of the IRA, even if not the IRA army council, but other leadership in the IRA?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I have no intelligence on that.
Mr. WONG. On that question, I would like to say that I have read the Majority Committee Investigation Report, and it is a work that involves a lot of serious investigation and raised a lot of serious questions.
I do not think I am in a position to offer you, sir, a full evaluation from the Administration standpoint because some of that would necessarily involve getting into classified information, and I cannot do that in this setting. But I will commit to look into it, sir.
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Chairman HYDE. Please finish.
Mr. WONG. I commit to look into these issues and discuss them with our colleagues in the counterterrorism intelligence community. And if it meets with the Chairman's approval, we might be able to address those questions in a classified briefing at some point.
Mr. KING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
If I could just say in closing, Mr. Chairman, that where I would disagree with Mr. Wong is that I do not believe that the report was very credible, that there anything in the report to substantiate the conclusions, and I align myself with the remarks of Mr. Delahunt that they are conclusions without proper substantiation.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. The gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Delahunt.
Mr. DELAHUNT. I thank the Chair. I guess I really do not know where to start because we are not speaking to the facts.
You, in your testimony, Mr. Hutchinson, referred to suspicions and allegations and assertions. Mr. Wong, you just said it raises questions. I happen to agree with you. I think there are legitimate questions that should be answered on a factual basis. So it makes it very difficult to pose questions because I am not looking for opinions. I am looking for hard evidence.
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I think my friend from New York has made his points rather tellingly. At the same time I think there still are many unanswered questions. I requested this hearing from Mr. Hyde. Well, let me pose a question to Mr. Hutchinson.
Are you familiar with the forensic tests that were taken in Colombia of the three Irish nationals?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Let me first remark on your overriding point. My testimony was based upon facts that I presented. Now, the breadth of my testimony was in relation to the drugs that support terrorism in Colombia from the FARC on down
Mr. DELAHUNT. I want to
Mr. HUTCHINSON [continuing]. And are very factually based.
Mr. DELAHUNT. Right. I want to acknowledge that. But we are here today to speak to the discrete issue of what occurred in Colombia with those three Irish nationals. You gave a very expansive description of the problems that Colombia faces in terms of the obvious narcotic trafficking that is on an going basis there. I agree.
You, Mr. Wong, spoke to the issue of violence. Let us be very candid. The violence in Colombia and the terror in Colombia committed against civilians has been going on for some 40 years. This is not a recent phenomenon.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC You described
Mr. HUTCHINSON. That is absolutely correct. What is unique is the evidence that has been presented today and has been gathered in the last month or so as to the integral involvement of a terrorist group in drug trafficking. This has not been previously known, and that has been
Mr. DELAHUNT. The integral, you are speaking of the FARC?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Yes.
Mr. DELAHUNT. According to the DEA. Well, in the Country Reports in the course of the past 4 or 5 years, it has been stated unequivocally that the FARC, in the past, have claimed simply to tax the proceeds. Now evidence, obviously over the course, has raised considerable suspicion that they were much more engaged and much more involved in the actual drug trafficking than previously surmised.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Absolutely.
Mr. DELAHUNT. But there is no relationship to that reality, which I agree with, and with the incident that occurred relative to the three Irish nationals in the arrest in August.
Would you agree with that?
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUTCHINSON. Oh, there is no drug involvement that I am aware of in reference to the
Mr. DELAHUNT. What I am saying basically is that the purpose of this hearing is to examine, as it has been entitled, the links between the IRA and the FARC relative to drugs and terrorism.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Well, that is
Mr. DELAHUNT. I mean, you have given a very profound and very accurate review of the situation in Colombia. You devoted about two sentences to the purpose of today's hearing.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I believe the purpose is much broader than what you outline.
Mr. DELAHUNT. Well, not according to the notice that the Members of this Committee received, and not according to the request that I had made, and the understanding that I had of the purpose of today's hearing.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Well, I was asked to testify concerning the link
Mr. DELAHUNT. I am not being critical of my friends.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUTCHINSON [continuing]. Between drugs and terrorism, which I did. Obviously, any time we have Members who have association with the IRA, who are down there, and there is evidence that they were conducting training is a concern to us.
Mr. DELAHUNT. Well, we do not have evidence. We know that the Colombian government appropriately, according to its legal process, has filed charges against these three Irish nationals for training. I think that is where we are, as Mr. Wong indicated, in the legal process where testimony is taken under oath, where hopefully there is an opportunity for cross-examination to assess the credibility of the witnesses, where forensic tests that have been taken both by the Colombian government and by the American government will be introduced in evidence, and where the defendants have an opportunity to present their case.
Chairman HYDE. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. DELAHUNT. I yield. [Laughter.]
Chairman HYDE. By the way, the title, so there is no ambiguity to the notice, for these hearings is ''International Global Terrorism: Its Links with Illicit Drugs As Illustrated by the IRA and Other Groups in Colombia.''
Now, Mr. Chris Smith is recognized.
Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I want to welcome our very distinguished panelists.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, that this hearing is not about the Irish peace process. However, it should be very clear that no enemy of the peace process on either side of the divide should glean from this hearing any grist or pretext or rationale for undermining the Good Friday Accords.
My deep concern is that there are some who cling to the past in Northern Ireland and do not want a future based on mutual respect and reconciliation. Regrettably, they will grasp at the alleged serious criminal misdeeds of some to slow the Irish peace process and to tarnish one of the participants of that process.
Let me make it very clear, Mr. Chairman, that if Connolly, Monaghan, and McCauley are found guilty, they absolutely deserve the maximum penalty, not just for putting Colombians at risk, but for putting Americans at risk.
Over the last few weeks and months, Mr. Chairman, I have made a wide range of inquiries through a broad spectrum of informed officials, including responsible members of our intelligence community, to determine if there is any evidence whatsoever that Sinn Fein and/or the IRA had any knowledge of any kind or complicity in the training of the FARC in any aspect of terrorism.
The answer back to me, and I would again ask our panelists to say one way or the other from their perspective, is that there is no evidence whatsoever.
As Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, and as Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, I have convened no less than seven hearings that focused on human rights in general in Northern Ireland and put a bright light on the critical role policing plays in the fair and impartial administration of justice.
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My contention then and now is that volumes of credible, multi-sourced evidence exists and existed then that was being ignored, that elements of the RUC had committed serious criminal acts, including collusion with para-militaries, and that no sustainable peace process was possible without a transparent professional police force.
Credible human rights organizations like the Lawyers Committee on Human Rights have produced reams of documented evidence of police misconduct, serious misconduct that went unprosecuted.
My hearings led to my proposing section 405 of my own bill for the Foreign Relations Act, which was signed by President Clinton into law, which imposed human rights conditions on the FBI when it trained RUC officers. The new law now requires that there be a vetting process in place to exclude human rights abuses, otherwise the exchange and training would not be allowed to happen.
Thankfully, the Bush Administration has announced a vigorous vetting process so that the training program will go on, so that the bad apples, to use Chris Patton's term for these bad police, would be excised out of that process.
The bottom line in all of this, Mr. Chairman, is that we found evidence and exposed it at my hearings. I have zero tolerance, and I believe every Member of our Committee and Congress would have, for any act of terrorism, anywhere, zero tolerance for it. But if it is used by certain elements who want to undermine the peace process and to draw a link to a larger organization, and the evidence suggests it has, I do hope and believe the organizations in Northern Ireland have given up the gun. If this is in the past and there is no evidence of linkage, then I think we need to turn that page. We have got to say it, and the enemies of the peace process will be profoundly disappointed in today's hearing.
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So I want to ask our two distinguished panelists again, is there any evidence based on what you have seen that these people are acting as rogue elements of the IRA, or were they acting at the direction of or in complicity with the IRA or Sinn Fein or any part of that organization?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I do not know whether they were acting independently or in concert with other individuals or organizations.
Mr. WONG. Sir, I have to say that I have not seen yet any concrete evidence to make these linkages.
If I could add another point. I think, as Chairman Hyde said at the outset of the hearings, that a lot of what we hoped to accomplish here was to make clear the challenges facing the Colombian people. That is what I would hope would be the message we leave here today, that they are in the fight of their lives to save their society, and they need our help.
And what I tried to do with a broader context is that terrorism works that way. There are places where there is a safe haven, and you do not know what you do not know about who comes and goes, and we are learning that about Afghanistan.
So I said that there are profound questions to be answered, and I think we all agreed on that, but I do not have the answers yet.
Chairman HYDE. The gentleman's time has expired.
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Mr. PAYNE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I certainly would like to add my voice to the consternation about the title of the hearing, even though it says it is ''International Global Terrorism: Its Links with Illicit Drugs As Illustrated by the IRA and Other Groups in Colombia.'' I think when you get down to it the thing that jumps out is international terrorism/IRA dealing with drugs.
And I think that it is really unfortunate because, as we know, the Good Friday Accords have been stumbling along and people might say, well, and why are so many people talking about the relationship of this to what is happening in the north of Ireland. It has a tremendous amount to do with that peace process.
As we know, Senator Mitchell spent years and years trying to move things forward, and everyone in the north of Ireland is not really supportive of a peaceful transition of that country.
In the newspapers in Europe and in Ireland, all of the headlines are talking aboutI have here from Ireland, ''Sinn Fein Chief snubs the U.S. Congress.'' Now, that certainly is not going to help a political party in Northern Ireland that is attempting to move forward a process. The statement of Ulster Unionist Assembly Member James Lester says,
''It is an affront to the biggest democracy in the work that Gerry Adams will not come and testify.''
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Chairman of the SDLP, Alex Atwood, says that
''Mr. Adams refusal to attend the Committee's hearing will raise questions as to what Sinn Fein has to hide.''
Trimble calls for the Sinn Fein leader to testify.
This has become a political football, and it is unfair that with no real evidence, as it has been indicated here very clearly, no one here has said anything new or different. Two men from Ireland and one man from the north of Ireland have been arrested in Colombia, and that we know.
I even spoke on Irish Radio last evening where I was called about my feeling about Gerry Adams snubbing our Committee. And I said it was clear, there would not be anything for Gerry Adams to say here. Well, what is there for him to say? He said it already. He said it in a letter,
''I know nothing about this. It is all news to me.''
And so here we have a hearing where he is being bashed, where the word out in Europe and in Ireland, and the north of Ireland, is that Gerry Adams is snubbing the U.S. Congress. I do not feel it is a snub. He sent a letter saying he knew nothing about it, and that was that.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And so I think that, unfortunately, this has been very damaging. I think it has certainly been unfair. We certainly in inner-cities see the scourge of drugs as something that has disrupted and destroyed our communities in the past, and no people fight more strongly against the drug scourge than the 38 Members of the Congressional Black Caucus. We want to see it all wiped out.
However, to take some link and say that therefore, and if I thought that the IRA was involved with Sinn Fein, I would be the first to condemn them and say that we should have a different policy toward Sinn Fein.
However, nothing here, as each of the Members have recited, can point a finger to anything other than three rogue men who happened to be Irishmen and connected with the IRA happened to be there. Are they on their own? Are they being paid? Was there a decision made at top levels that this is the new policy? All of these questions, there is no answer to them. Once again, I just want to say I am very disturbed and annoyed because of the tenuousness of the peace talks in the north that something like this can certainly put some lumps in the ruin.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Chairman HYDE. I thank the gentleman.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Thank you. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As we have been discussing, one of the three Irish nationals arrested was Sinn Fein's longstanding representative in Cuba. He lived there for 5 years. According to the Cuban sources, he was there as a political liaison officer, and on the communist party payroll.
Do you believe that the Cubans did not know what the Sinn Fein representative was doing with all of his travels to and from Colombia, or of the IRA activity in Cuba or in Colombia?
Mr. WONG. I think I would like to start off by saying that Cuba remains on our terrorism list, and one of the primary reasons for that is the issue of safe haven and letting terrorists from the past, currently fugitives from U.S. justice, stay there and enjoy impunity.
To the question of what Cuba knew on this particular case, I cannot answer. I am not in a position to answer that. I simply do not know.
Considering what you have described as being the linkages between the individuals, certainly there in Cuba with their knowledge, I am speculating that they would know about travel, certainly. Beyond that I really cannot hazard a guess.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Because of what we know about Cuba's regime, someone who represents a certain group is allowed to enter Cuba only with Fidel Castro's permission. It is not an easy thing for someone representing any political organization from abroad to be living in Cuba, and more difficult for us to think that this was done without Castro's knowledge or participation. I look forward to having more evidence about that from officials from our intelligence sources, perhaps in a classified briefing, however you would like to give us that information.
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Asa, it is such a pleasure to have you appear before our Committee. Throughout the last 8 years, we have repeatedly received information from DEA agents throughout Latin America about Cuba's assistance and direct involvement in narcotics trafficking into the United States where they even refer to radar evidence and other such proof. These conscientious agents provided the information to their superiors, but they were told to ignore it. Similar problems, we were told, surfaced at the Department of State.
Given that there is a new President, a new Administration, will you commit yourself to unveiling the truth about Cuba's critical role in the illicit drug trade, and will you work with the Department of State to ensure that such evidence is evaluated and incorporated into the international narcotics control strategy report, and goes toward a determination of Cuba as a major drug transit country?
How seriously are you looking at Cuba in this perspective?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Well, I certainly pledge to look at any evidence fairly and thoroughly in that regard.
In reference to Cuba, when we see the go-fast boats transporting cocaine and other drugs through that region, if they slip under the territorial waters of Cuba, you know, it is a concern of ours that there is not an adequate response to that development. And so this is a concern of ours. Cuba does not have any resources if they had the willingness to pursue those type of interdiction efforts. But any evidence of involvement of individuals in Cuba or lack of response certainly is a matter of concern and something we would look at very carefully.
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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Thank you.
Mr. Wong, could you elaborate on reports appearing throughout Latin American newspapers in recent days regarding the involvement of Nicaraguan officers in arm sales to Colombian guerrillas, as well as Panamanian connections to those sales?
Mr. WONG. I do not have any particular knowledge about those alleged transactions. That is something I would like to look into. I think that you deserve a full answer to that, and I do not want to hazard a guess that misleads you.
[The information referred to follows:]
RESPONSE SUBMITTED AFTER THE HEARING BY THE HONORABLE MARK F. WONG TO QUESTION ASKED BY THE HONORABLE ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
I do not know specifically which articles you are referring to, but I will note that arms to Colombia's three terrorist groups flow from all points on the compass. We know that illegal US-made arms flow southward to Colombia, often making transshipment stops along the way. Therefore, it would not be new or surprising to find that Nicaraguans or Panamanians along this North-South route may have been involved in shipments. I would note that the nations of Central America are partners in our coalition against terrorism, and I do not believe that any government officials would take part in illegal arms shipments to Colombia. They certainly would not partake in such activities with the consent of their government.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. And is it true that Cuba provides doctors and trainers to the FARC, and are not FARC wounded and ill commanders often treated in Havana? Do you have information about
Mr. WONG. I believe that is the case.
Chairman HYDE. Would the gentlelady yield?
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Yes, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. I think the gentlelady early in her statement said, and I believe I have heard it elsewhere, that one of these three Irish tourists in Colombia was the representative of Sinn Fein to the Cuban government for 5 years; is that correct?
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Well, he had lived in Cuba for 5 years, and he was Sinn Fein's longstanding representative in Cuba.
Chairman HYDE. Yes.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. That's how he had represented himself.
Chairman HYDE. That is what I said. And also these three tourists in Colombia had false passports, did they not?
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Correct, and that was the charge when they were
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Chairman HYDE. Thank you.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN [continuing]. Arrested in Colombia. Also, he was considered to be, as I said, the political officer, and the report from Cuban officials was that they were on the communist party payroll.
Chairman HYDE. I thank the gentlelady.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
For the last decade that I have been in this House, I have advocated for and on behalf of the right of the citizens of the north of Ireland for peace and justice in their own land. I was proud to be one of the ad hoc Irish Caucus individuals who convinced Tony Blair to give Gerry Adams his first visa to the United States, because I thought his voice needed to be heard here.
So I take a back seat to no one in Congress on that score, because over time I have come to know the victims of centuries of British misrule in the north of Ireland, and the legacy of abuse and injustice to those individuals.
Having said that, I am concerned about the Committee's allegations of serious wrongdoing by members of the Irish Republican Army and the conflict in Colombia, something which I care about very much as the Ranking Democrat on the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, and I would have spoken of this in an opening statement.
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I would say to some of my friends, as I have always said in the context of our British allies when they were critical of the positions that I had taken, that the truth only reenforces peace. If that truth were to exonerate these men of any wrongdoing, then it can only reenforce the good faith of Sinn Fein as a partner of peace in Ireland.
If on the other hand they are found to be guilty by Colombian justice, Sinn Fein can seize the opportunity to condemn the actions of those guilty of spreading terror in a land that is far away from Ireland, but very close to the United States.
The Committee has a series of what they call findings, so I would like to ask you, Mr. Wong, a series of questions, and I appreciate your being brief in your answers so I can get to all of them.
In the findings of the Committee, the report says that all three of these gentlemen were carrying false identification documents, passports. Can you verify or contradict that?
Mr. WONG. I believe that to be the case, and, you know, the Colombian will be in the lead when they finish their trial process, but that will be established.
Mr. MENENDEZ. They were found to have traces of explosives on their clothing and on their items in their luggage. Can you verify or contradict that?
Mr. WONG. I believe that to be the case as well.
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Mr. MENENDEZ. Two of the three Irish nationals were the IRA's leading explosive engineer and a mortar expert. Can you verify or contradict that?
Mr. WONG. I have heard that. I cannot verify it.
Mr. MENENDEZ. You cannot verify that.
The third individual was a representative of Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing, and was known to be stationed in Cuba. Can you verify or contradict that?
Mr. WONG. All of these, I believe the listing of the findings that accord with what I believe to be Colombian information on this.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Do you know about this defecter that reportedly identified photographs of three Irish nationals as the same individuals from whom he himself received explosives? Can you verify or contradict that?
Mr. WONG. I have heard those reports, but I cannot
Mr. MENENDEZ. You have heard those reports, but you do not know individually that those reports are true?
Mr. WONG. No, I cannot verify that.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MENENDEZ. So while you have heard of these things, you do not know for a fact from personal knowledge that these things are true?
Mr. WONG. That is correct. We need to evaluate all of these
Mr. MENENDEZ. Do you have access to this information by the Colombian security police?
Mr. WONG. Our embassy, the interagency that is represented at Embassy Bogota, is in close touch with our Colombian counterparts at virtually every level.
Mr. MENENDEZ. But have you gone to try to deduce the evidence yourself, see what the Colombians have, and make an independent judgement of it?
Mr. WONG. We are in the
Mr. MENENDEZ. Yes or no?
Mr. WONG. We are in the process of evaluating, which is why a full considered statement
Mr. MENENDEZ. Who is ''we''?
Mr. WONG. The Department of State, the U.S. Government. We are interested in this matter, and we seek to understand it as well because the allegations, the implications for security of our own people in Colombia are a part of the equation. We take that very seriously.
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But I want to say that we need to understand fully what all these allegations are, what is behind it. It is worth our effort to understand that, and we will undertake that.
Mr. MENENDEZ. I look at Gerry Adams' letter to the Committee, and I find it of interest that a highly disciplined group would have someone for 5 years sitting in Havana and not knowing that that person had been asked by one of their senior members to represent the party in Cuba. That is what his letter says.
His letter says,
''Nor was I or the leadership of our party aware that Niall Connolly had been asked by one of our senior members to represent the party in Cuba.''
But I find it difficult after 5 years of representing the party in Cuba that it never would have come to anybody's attention at the top of Sinn Fein's leadership that they had someone who was unauthorized to represent the party in Cuba.
Chairman HYDE. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. The gentleman from Texas, Mr. Paul.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PAUL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank the two other gentlemen, Mr. King and Mr. Delahunt, for their questioning because I thought they were very thoughtful and I learned a lot from them. I was particularly interested in Mr. Delahunt's concern about troops going down to Colombia.
I am surprised that we talk so much about the IRA. I for some reason thought that possibly this hearing had something to do with legislation coming up, the Colombia Anti-Terrorism Act, and I think maybe that is the real reason, which is really the purpose there, as I see it, to expand the military role in Colombia. So I do not want to get distracted, although the information was very beneficial. We have to be concerned about what we are doing here, what kind of authority we are giving.
I appreciate those practical concerns. My concerns are more broad. I am concerned about proper authority and the constitutionality of what we are doing, and that we are fighting two wars. Of course, we have the drug war, which I have questioned for a good many years, but also the expansion of the war down in Colombia.
You know, the bill says that we have to go down there because there is a threat to the national security of Colombia. I know our government and our constitution give us the authority to be concerned about national security, but do we automatically have the authority to send troops any place, every place in the world because we are concerned about the security of another government? I really question what we are doing by moving in that direction.
As far as the war on drugs goes, we have had a profound change in the last century in our attitude toward drugs. For most of our history, we did not have a drug war. We have had a drug war for 30 years, and it is very, very unsuccessful.
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In the old days when there was higher respect for the constitution, it was assumed that the Federal Government did not have authority for the drug war. For instance, we as a people wanted to prohibit the use of alcohol, and we changed the constitution. Then we found out that it increased the usage. It increased the danger. It increased the crime and the violence, and the quality and the danger of what we were doing.
So we wisely then repealed the prohibition. Even in 1937, when the Federal Government wanted to get involved with marijuana, they knew they did not have the authority to prohibit it, so they passed a tax law in order to try to stop it. It was not until 1941 that it was taken out of the Pharma Capia, and the National Formulary.
Today, it is rather sad in this war on drugs that in a state that legalizes the use of marijuana, and I as a physician have great concern about this, that a person dying with AIDS or cancer, if they act under the law of California, they are imprisoned by the Federal Government.
So I question all this, and I question us using the drugs as an excuse to go down to Colombia to defend oil pipelines. This, to me, is something we should give deep thought to.
I just do not see where we have this authority, militarily, to go down as is being planned and expand our military role. I do not see us having the proper authority, although it is commonplace and commonly understood today that we have all this authority domestically, but for us to go down and bomb and burn and get involved in a civil war that has been going on for 40 years, where does the authority come from for us to enter this civil war?
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If we think about it and vote it out in the open we may change the constitution, possibly. But going to Colombia and arguing that it has something to do with American national security, that is being disingenuous.
I think that if we have a drug problem, which we do, and I have witnessed it as a physician, we should do something about it. But to me it is a medical problem. It is not a legal problem. We have taken it and turned it into a political football, and drugs are being used as an excuse to just about do anything. And I ask for comments.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. May I respond, Mr. Paul?
Thank you very much, and I have enjoyed our discussions in the past. But you raise the issue about our national interest in Colombia, and I think we should be in foreign countries where we do have a nation interest. But if you look in Colombia, since 1992, 51 U.S. citizens have been kidnapped. We have gone a lot of places in the world because of the endangerment of American citizens. Ten have been murdered by the FARC and the ALN since that time.
In Texas, where you do an outstanding job of representing your citizens, the cocaine and the heroin that are on the streets in Texas originate from Colombia. And so I think this demonstrates our national interest.
You reference the lack of success in our anti-drug effort. I think that is one of the myths of this decade, when you look at the fact that we have reduced cocaine use over the last 15 years by 75 percent, when we have reduced overall drug use by 50 percent in the last 20 years. Certainly we need to have more success, but that is substantial success in the saving of livesthe fact that there are nine million people fewer using drugs today than 20 years ago.
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Finally, in reference to the troops that Mr. Delahunt originally mentioned, his concern was that in Colombia they would have a perception that troops are authorized. Well, the fact is we are not talking about perception, we are talking about legalities. The limits are still in place, the cap on U.S. personnel, which is an appropriate limitation.
So I thank the gentleman for his question.
Mr. PAUL. Thank you.
Chairman HYDE. The gentleman's time has expired.
Ms. WATSON. Mr. Chairman, I would like to yield to Mr. Delahunt, but I would like a minute when he finishes.
Chairman HYDE. The gentlelady may yield to anyone she wishes.
Mr. DELAHUNT. I thank the gentlelady for yielding.
Mr. Hutchinson, the gentlelady from Florida raised the issue of drugs in Cuba. We do have an ongoing relationship with Cuba on an ad hoc basis in terms of interdicting drugs; is that correct?
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Mr. HUTCHINSON. That is correct. There is a Coast Guard liaison in the Cuban intersection in Havana, and the DEA on a case-by-case basis does have communication with Cuba.
Mr. DELAHUNT. And in the course of the past 12 months there have been successful intercepts of drugs coming from Latin America on seven different occasions; is that correct?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I do not have those statistics in front of me, but there have been instances of cooperation on certain cases.
Mr. DELAHUNT. And are you aware of the case that there was substantial cooperation by the Cuban authorities in a seizure of some, I think, seven tons of cocaine on a vessel call The Limerick back in the last 1990s?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. That is correct. We have discussed that.
Mr. DELAHUNT. We have. And those Cuban authorities came to Miami and testified on behalf of the United States Government?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I believe that is correct.
Mr. DELAHUNT. You know that is correct, Mr. Hutchinson.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUTCHINSON. We have discussed that. I just do not have it in front of me, but certainly that was an instance of a successful level of cooperation.
Mr. DELAHUNT. Right. And are you familiar with the fact that many of our traditional allies such as Great Britain, France, The Netherlands, the Spanish have agreements with the Cuban authorities in terms of drug interdiction?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I believe that is correct.
Mr. DELAHUNT. Are you aware that the English Ambassador in Havana has described that relationship as excellent?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I am not aware of that.
Mr. DELAHUNT. You are not aware of that?
If I tell you that I had that conversation with him and that others similarly situated have described that?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I would certainly accept whatever you said in reference to that conversation.
Mr. DELAHUNT. Thank you, Mr. Administrator.
Is there any credible evidence whatsoever that you have available to you that is current that establishes any kind of link with the Cuban government as major narcotic traffickers?
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Mr. HUTCHINSON. I have no such information relating to the Cuban government that is current on any narcotics trafficking.
Mr. PAYNE. Mr. Delahunt, would you yield for a moment, and Ms. Watson, still give her her minute?
Mr. DELAHUNT. I yield back to the gentlelady.
Mr. PAYNE. Would you yield for a moment, Ms. Watson?
Ms. WATSON. Yes, I will.
Mr. PAYNE. Mr. Wong, we heard about the physicians being in Colombia from Cuba. Is it not true that Cuba has probably more physicians per population than just about anywhere in the world?
Mr. WONG. I do not know that fact, but I have heard something like that, sure.
Mr. PAYNE. And are you aware of the fact that in many African countries that really have poor health systems, that Cuba simply as a part of community service sends Cuban physicians to those countries just to improve the quality of health care in those countries since they have such an abundance? Have you
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WONG. I have heard of that, yes.
Mr. PAYNE. So I just wanted to put on record that it is not uncommon for Cuban physicians to be in places that are considered impoverished. Secondly, it is really not surprising that countries where there is a feeling of oppression that the Cuban government has made outreach to those places. For example, in South Africa with the ANC, when they were fighting apartheid in South Africa, Cuban forces actually fought in Angola against the South African troops.
So I just want to say that this Sinn Fein person being in CubaI am not so sure it is such a shocking situation.
I yield back to the lady from California. Thank you.
Ms. WATSON. Thank you so much, and thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I also want to thank the witnesses for being here in what I can see is an impossible situation. You are asked to respond to these statements made by an investigative group of this Committee, and your responses to direct questions is that, no, you do not have the facts. That leads me to believe that this hearing is premature.
I think the
Chairman HYDE. I hate to interrupt the gentlelady as she is about to be critical, but [Laughter.] your time has expired, and so we will have to move on. Save those thoughts.
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Ms. WATSON. You can believe I will. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. Mrs. Davis, the gentlelady from Virginia.
Mrs. DAVIS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, gentlemen, for being here to testify.
Administrator Hutchinson, I have a question for you that may be sensitive and you may not be able to answer, so I would hope you could tell me in a classified briefing, if not.
Can you confirm that there are other terrorist groups that are working in Colombia that would not necessarily be our friends other than the FARC and the ELN?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I can say that there are indications that the FARC may have links to the Basque Fatherland and the Liberty Movement, which is the ETA out of Spain. There are other limited indications of connections that we are watching and are of a concern, and that is probably the extent of the details I can provide to you in this setting.
Mrs. DAVIS. I would hope you could provide me further details in a different setting.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Be happy to.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. DAVIS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KING. Will you yield your time?
Mrs. DAVIS. Can I yield after I have said thank you?
Chairman HYDE. Yes, you may.
Mrs. DAVIS. I would be happy to yield my time to Mr. King.
Mr. KING. Thank you, Mrs. Davis.
I just want to get on the record before Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. Wong leave, first of all, to thank them for their testimony; also, to indicate perhaps the direction the hearing has gone. We have spent the last 10 or 15 minutes discussing Cuba, health care in Africa, Angola, and we have gone far afield indicating, I think, the lack of substance of the hearing itself.
But also I would like to make the point, in case I do not get a chance to get back to the microphone, that whatever statements I have made today saying that I think the hearing was not properly grounded and serious questions have not been answered, I think it is important that those in the Republican movement and all of its manifestations realize that something like this can never ever be allowed to happen again. If they are going to be serious players in the Irish peace process, serious players in the international scene, this has to be ended once and for all. There is a difference between negligence, I believe, and overt acts. I think this is one of negligence. But you are only allowed one mistake in this business.
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I yield back. Thank you.
Chairman HYDE. We have a very important witness that I think might fill in some of the gaps that have been manifest by the tone of the questions and comments, and I would like to get to the next witness.
However, we have one, two, three, four, five, on our side yet to question, and one on the Democratic side. So I am going to go ahead and ask you to ask your questions, but I appeal to you to try to be brief so we can get to this next witness, and then you may question at your heart's content.
Mr. Sherman. He is gone.
Mr. BALLENGER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will try to make this short.
I would just like to ask Mr. Wong a question. It is well known in counterterrorist circles, and I think that we even have a statement by the IRA, that it is a very well disciplined organization. In this particular case there are 5 of 15 of the people supposedly based in Colombia, including some very senior explosive experts over a period of 3 or even 5 years who were in and out of Colombia.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Is it not very unlikely that these guys could be free lancers or independent contractors?
Mr. WONG. The statement about the IRA being a disciplined organization, that accords with my general understanding of the way that organization operates.
Addressing the specific question of what they know and they do not know, that really is a question of fact. I cannot honestly tell you I know one way or the other.
Mr. BALLENGER. Right. But the basic idea is, generally speaking, you do not expect an organization that is very well run and, shall we say, well disciplined to have five to 15 independent contractors in and out of Colombia?
Mr. WONG. I could not speculate as to motives, and I also do not know about the premise, about the numbers.
Mr. BALLENGER. Okay. Let me just quickly explain, because of my experience in Colombia, in the past the bombing was pretty basic. There were just big tanks that were fired at people, and they lucked out wherever they went. But when we were there just a week or so ago, right after we left they detonated a small bomb in a car that attracted a crowd. Then the large bomb cut loose, and that was a much more expertly arranged explosion than the FARC had ever been noted to be able to do before; is that not true?
Mr. WONG. Sir, we are monitoring those trends. As I said in my opening statement, there may be other explanations for that. Some of this new technique and technology that we are seeing raise serious questions.
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Mr. BALLENGER. Well, I just wanted to get the point across that bombing techniques look like they have improved with somebody's coaching, and I do not know who it may be, but I thought that point should be brought out.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. Mr. Cantor is not here. Mr. Nick Smith, is he here? No. Mr. Leach.
Mr. LEACH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will be very brief.
I want to just return briefly to this issue of Colombia, and the judgments that are involved. I think Mr. Paul raises an interesting constitutional question. But I think the real issues are likely to be judgmental, and it is quite clear that the country is very troubled. It is quite clear that those troubles are increasing.
But forgetting the language of Vietnam, a ''slippery slope,'' there is a very large word in American policymaking that relates to whether actions are productive or counterproductive. I am very concerned that when America enters into conflicts we change the whole nature of the conflict, the whole nature of the motivations of the other side, and the whole nature of circumstances that we become accountable for, whether it be dropping chemicals in the wrong way at the wrong time, whether it be getting involved materially in ways that are imprudent.
We have kind of a conspiracy theory in America that relates to Black Hawk helicopters, which is clearly false. But if you look at the landscape of the pictures coming out of Colombia, it looks like we are selling Black Hawk helicopters, and you wonder whether we have a conspiracy theory that is false in this country, whether a conspiracy theory that is valid in theirs might not originate.
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And the question I would have relates to whether we are better off in Colombia selling them more helicopters or providing them more helicopters, or would we be better off being a little more concerned with education and health care and that sort of issue?
And do governments that have limited control over their own territory, are they likely to get more control by providing services or by tearing out the countryside?
What is the priority of the United States Government, do we have it right or perhaps do we have it exactly upside down?
Mr. WONG. Sir, you raise a number of very good questions. And I would have to say, first of all, we have a Plan Colombia with the Colombia government, and our involvement in that has been to promote progress on a number of fronts, including human rights. The groups we designate as foreign terrorist organizations come from the left and the right. We are here to argue engagement because we believe we are down there to protect Colombian democracy as well. The security of Americans, I think, is at stake, and I completely endorse Administrator Hutchinson's comments on that. But beyond our own security, Colombian democracy is important to us.
The assault on their institutions, subversion of the rule of law, the assaults on human rights down there are things we believe we can do something about. Our engagement with the Colombia military, the human rights vetting and training, it is a key point to make, that the authorities that we have recently requested from Congress to help Colombia in its unified campaign against narcotics and terrorism completely intend to abide by all the Leahy Amendments on human rights.
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Mr. LEACH. I do not want to prolong this, and let me just conclude because the Chairman wants to move on. But let me say as strongly as I can, I think the premises everyone agrees with. The conclusions, I have a difficult time with. When you spend several hundred million dollars for helicopters and several hundred thousand for education, I am wondering if the effect would not be better if you reversed that.
And I am not sure that U.S. military engagement in the Southern Hemisphere is as important as it is being made out to be, starting with the very same premises that you start with.
But let me yield back my time. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. Mr. Burton.
Mr. BURTON. Well, I have great admiration for my colleagues from Iowa and from Texas, but I will tell you, after having worked with Chairman Gilman for a number of years on the Colombia problem, I could not disagree with them more.
These terrorists down there, the FARC, the ELN and others, are going into small towns and if there is any opposition they cut off the head of the mayor. They kill his wife and children. They put his head on a pike or else they play polo with it or something. And they terrorize people and they force conscripts into the FARC military, and they have been growing in power.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, what does that mean for the United States of America? And I think this hearing is important. I think every hearing to illuminate this issue is important. The fact is they are the major producer of narcotics, heroin and cocaine for this country. And if that is not a war against America, I do not know what it is.
But secondly, they are in our hemisphere. They are not half way around the world. They are in our hemisphere. President Pastrana was just here, and for years he has been fighting, and his predecessors have been fighting, to keep Colombia from coming a narco-guerrilla state. And it could very well become just that.
And let us say that whole territory becomes a narco-guerrilla state. How in the world are we going to deal with it then? Are we going to declare war on a narco-guerrilla state, Colombia? Or is it better to help them fight their own fight right now?
It seems to me we are doing the right thing, and I compliment my colleagues who are here testifying today for what they are doing.
Now, one thing I would like to ask concerns these people who are coming in from the IRA who are experts in bomb techniques. As I understand it, they have been very effective in training the FARC guerrillas in new techniques to the degree that, in the last 12 months, 10 percent or more of the people who dismantle these bombs have been killed. Now that is a terrible thing.
They go in and they know how to dismantle some of the bombs that have been placed there by the FARC. Now because of the new techniques they dismantle one, and when they open the trunk or whatever to reach it, a secondary bomb is there and it blows up not only the people directly in the area, but the people who are trying to protect them as well.
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Now, I want to know, is that correct? Have there been a lot of people who are dismantling those bombs killed?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. It is correct that Colombian police and military are losing a continuing increasing number of their bomb technicians through that technique. Ten percent is the figure that I understand is correct that they have lost, and that is of great concern.
Now, as to the cause and effect and the relationship there, that becomes more speculative, but it is a fact that they have lost many of those bomb technicians.
Mr. BURTON. I understand, but the fact is the FARC is getting new technology. They are getting some kind of new training that is allowing them to put secondary devices in those areas so that these people are being blown up. And the thing that concerns me is how are you going to get somebody to go in and dismantle a bomb if there is a secondary bomb there that they do not know about, and they are going to be killed? You know, these people have to have some confidence that they are going to come out alive. And if they do not have that confidence, you are not going to have people going in there to do that.
And what does that do? That creates an atmosphere of terror not only in the people dismantling the bombs, but in everybody else because they know that they do not have any way of stopping these things.
So the United States of America, in my opinion, has a number of reasons why we ought to be down there, and I compliment you on having this hearing, Mr. Chairman. Although we do not have all the answers today, I hope that you will continue to work hard to get us the answers because the security of our children and the United States of America, in my opinion, is at risk to some degree, and we need to deal with this, and we need to deal with it now.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you, sir.
We have exhausted this panel, and I thank you very much, Administrator Hutchinson, and Mr. Wong for your contribution to this very difficult, and as you can see, emotional subject.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. It has been a privilege.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you.
Chairman HYDE. I would like our next witness to come forward, please.
Chairman HYDE. Our next witness is General Fernando Tapias. General Tapias joined the military academy in Bogota on February 1962, and during his career has been assigned to many important posts, some of which are: Commanding Officer of ''Magdalena'' and ''Presidential Guards'' battalions; head of the army's enlisted school; head of weapons and services school; military, naval and air attache in Israel; Director of the army's military academy, ''General Jose Maria Cordoba;'' Brigadier Commander and Fifth Division Commander, chief of staff of the army, and presently he is commander in chief of Colombia's military forces.
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Besides his normal military career courses, General Tapias has pursued the following additional studies: psychological operations and advanced infantry in the United States; staff and operative military strategy in France; a graduate degree in military science and post-graduate studies in management at Los Andes University and Esquella Superioria de Administracion Publica in Colombia.
He has been awarded more than 40 decorations and medals both from Colombia and foreign governments.
General Tapias' last published books and articles are Psychological Operations Handbook, Intelligence in Psychological Operations, Conflict in the Middle East, and The Soldier in Colombia's National Army.
We welcome you here, General Tapias. We understand you do not speak English and we have the services of a very competent translator, and so we may hear your statement and the translator will talk into the microphone.
STATEMENT OF GENERAL FERNANDO TAPIAS, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF, ARMED FORCES OF COLOMBIA: [THROUGH A TRANSLATOR]
General TAPIAS. Thank you very much, Chairman Hyde, and distinguished Members. I am pleased to be with you today, and I have come to attend this hearing as elemental reciprocity in recognition of the support that the United States has given Colombia, along with other friendly countries.
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I come here this morning as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of the Armed Forces of Colombia, and I would state in that capacity, sir, that it is quite true that the struggle that Colombia is waging against the narco-traffickers is totally demanded. That is a struggle that is going to the very core, ripping the very fabric of Colombian society.
Indeed, I would say that it is a war that is alien to the concept of society itself, and so I will be very pleased to answer as best I can to any of the questions that you would wish to put to me in that regard.
I am happy and willing then, Mr. Chairman, to answer any of the concerns, questions you may have.
[General Tapias' report on international terrorism, submitted for the record, follows:]
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Chairman HYDE. Very well. Mr. Delahunt. All right, we will skip you.
Mr. CROWLEY. Thank you, General Tapias, for being here.
Once again, I will just express my concern again about the direction of this hearing. As I said in my opportunity to question the first panel, the timing of this hearing, before a judicial proceeding is taken place in Colombia, and the Committee's investigation which neither myself nor my staff was a part of that alludes the IRA is linked to the FARC could seriously jeopardize the peace process in Northern Ireland. In my opinion, this would give leaders of the anti-peace movement in the north of Ireland an excuse to call for the disbanding of the assembly by calling for Sinn Fein to be expelled because of their link into the IRA
Chairman HYDE. Mr. Crowley, if you could be mindful of the translator. She has got to translate for him.
Mr. CROWLEY. I will be mindful, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Therefore possibly setting back the peace process in Northern Ireland. Having said that, General Tapias, and I know that we have met in Colombia, you know of my concern about the drug trade in Colombia and the terrorism that is taking place in your country. My concern is for that, as well as that I am not here to defend terrorism anywhere. I myself am a victim of terrorism. I lost a first cousin in the attack on the World Trade Center, so I understand very, very well the effects of terrorism.
But I am concerned about a process that has been taking place in the north of Ireland for quite some time of which many of us in this Committee have been very, very much a part. We have seen tremendous movements toward peace in the north of Ireland and are concerned about what I believe is the attempt of the Committee to make a direct link between the FARC and the army council of the IRA.
Do you believe, General Tapias, that there is a direct linkage between the FARC and the army council of the IRA? Do you have knowledge of that, I should say?
General TAPIAS. I can answer that there are at least seven Irishmen that have been identified in Colombia who are linked to the IRA. They are training members of the FARC. They are providing know-how and technical assistance in the production of non-conventional arms. They are providing training and technical assistance with regard to the production and the use of other arms and weapons to wage guerrilla warfare in combat and in intelligence. We have their names. We have their registry numbers, and we know the activities in which they have been engaged.
But whether their presence in Colombia is the result of a decision taken by the very structure of the IRA decisionmakers or whether they are there in engaged in these activities in their personal capacities as a matter of their own initiative, we cannot say.
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What we can say is that of the seven, of which three are under arrest, two are well known to European and international organizations that have followed these activities, and are very well known in the upper echelons of the IRA structure. Again, whether their presence in Colombia is the result of their own enterprise or whether the enterprise has been vetted by and approved and sanctioned by the IRA high command, we cannot say.
Mr. CROWLEY. So, General, you have no formal knowledge of any formal links between these three or five gentlemen and the Provisional IRA; is that correct?
General TAPIAS. To answer your question, I have no formal knowledge linking these individuals to the high command of the IRA, but I must add in saying so that there is a wealth of information to which I am not privy because that information has not been made available to the military authorities that I represent. That information is in the hands of the attorney general's office in the public prosecution's office in Colombia, inasmuch as there are judicial proceedings ongoing. So there is information which, for that reason, I have not received.
What I am able to state is what I have already stated, and I would briefly reiterate, and that is that we have facts linking the people formerly mentioned to training activities. They have entered particular zones in the country where they are actively buttressing the terrorist procedures and terrorist activities of the FARC, and we have noted that the FARC modus operandi have in fact been modified as a result of some terrorist training.
Mr. CROWLEY. So General Tapias, you have no knowledge of any information that is not privy to you. Is there anything indicating that there is a linkage? You have no knowledge of any information that's not privy to you that there is a linkage between the two; is that correct?
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If you do not know, therefore, you cannot make the statement, but you bring up the issue of information that you are not privy to as being relevant at this point in time that would possibly suggest a linkage.
General TAPIAS. I understand that my responsibility in appearing before you is to speak to the facts, and this is why I have exposed such facts as I have in hand, and I can only say that there are facts that I do not have which are in the hands of the judiciary in Colombia which is investigating these issues.
It is possible that on the basis of those facts a link could be made. I cannot say because I do not have those additional facts. But what I do know on the basis of facts that I do have is that these people have been linked to the training activities and the buttressing of terrorist proceedings in the FARC.
I can say that the people detained are heads of engineering departments within the IRA structure. One is the head of an engineering group and the other one is the deputy, the second in command on an engineering group of the IRA structure.
I do not know, because I am not familiar with the actual workings of the IRA structure, whether it would be conceivable for two significant leaders within that structure to absent themselves for a prolonged period of time without the knowledge of the higher ups of the chain of command of the IRA. I do not know that. What I do know is that they are leaders within the IRA structure in their fields, and that they have been in Colombia for a period of time, and that they are involved in training the FARC in terrorist activities.
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Chairman HYDE. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. DELAHUNT. General Tapias, welcome.
Let me state for the record that it is my understanding that General Tapias will be at some point in the near future moving on to retirement. I wish to publicly state that he will be sorely missed. I first met General Tapias in 1997 on my first trip to Colombia. Under his leadership, the human rights record of the Colombian military has improved substantially, and he has made great efforts to professionalize the Colombian military. I wish him well.
General Tapias, can you tell the Committee when the judicial proceedings regarding the three Irish nationals will commence?
General TAPIAS. I cannot tell you exactly the precise date at which the judicial proceedings will commence. As far as I understand, this will be in the coming weeks. What I can tell you is that formal charges have been already levied against these three individuals in formal documents to that effect by the attorney general's office in Colombia. Of course, those formal charges have been drawn up on the basis of evidence that the judiciary has in hand and various other indicia that have been put forward pursuant to the Colombian legal system.
Mr. DELAHUNT. Thank you.
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General Tapias, there is a news advisory that was put out by the Committee that suggests that, in addition to the IRA operating within the safe haven and committing acts of terrorism, are Iranians, Cubans, and possible ETA, Basque terrorists.
It goes on to state that it is likely that in the former FARC safe haven these terrorist groups have been sharing techniques, honing their terrorism skills, using illicit drug proceeds as payment, and collectively helping to challenge the rule of law in Colombia.
Can you tell me, are you aware of any evidence of Cubans in the former despeje (demilitarized zone) conducting any acts of terrorism or providing any training to any group, whether it be the FARC, the ELN or the AUC?
General TAPIAS. With regard to the presence of foreign terrorists in Colombia beyond the presence of these IRA nationals, we know of the presence of foreign terrorists which we feel has been financed by the FARC's tremendous involvement with the drug trade, generating vast sums of money which have made it possible to import outlaws of several countries to Colombia for various purposes.
For instance, we know of Central Americans, particularly from Nicaragua and El Salvador, who were engaged in arms trade, and we know too, Mr. Delahunt, you may remember this incident with regard to training now, of the presence of an Israeli, who was training right wing, para-militaries. And we know from the information that has been gleaned from deserters that there is a presence of foreign terrorists in Colombia linked to the FARC.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We know, for instance, of a German national whose specialty was the construction and deployment of missiles and projectiles. And I have with me for your information a brochure that sums up some of the information that we have to this effect.
Further, we have information, again from dissidents or deserters of the groups, the knowledge of a Venezuelan who had come to Colombia to engage in these activities. So, too, Iraqi presence has been identified. Indeed, in an opportunity when the Colombian authorities proceeded to seize and capture an area and material that was found there, Iraqi currency was found on the spot, which presumably would indicate that there had been the presence of Iraqis there engaging in some transactions.
I would like to state further regarding the foreign nationals that we have also detected the presence of Argentineans who have worked closely with the ELN and the FARC. I mentioned previously the presence of Venezuelans. There are also a few Equadorians.
Clearly, the Venezuelan and the Equadorians being closer by geographically to Colombia, they, of course, might have found it easier to come. Of course, all the way from Argentina, it has to be said that the Argentinean nationals were extremists, previously associated with extreme groups in that country.
But let me now turn briefly to the specific question that I believe was asked regarding Cuba, and the possible presence or participation of Cuba in support of terrorist activities in Colombia. It is true that in the decade of the '60s to the '70s, Cuba was definitely very closely involved, in fact, in the very setting up of the National Liberation Army, the ELN. It was involved in its organization, it was involved in its training, it was involved in its financing.
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But there is no information, to my knowledge, that this continues to be the case today, and that Cuba is in any way linked to terrorist activities in Colombia today. I have no evidence to that effect and no information to that effect. Indeed, Cuban authorities are buttressing the movements toward peace that are trying to be made, and this is the information that I have from the President and from the commissioners who are involved in that regard.
Chairman HYDE. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. BALLENGER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General, good to see you again, sir.
General TAPIAS. Thank you, Mr. Ballenger.
Mr. BALLENGER. I would follow Mr. Delahunt in wishing you the best if and when the time comes that you retire.
General TAPIAS. Thank you.
Mr. BALLENGER. You have really made a wonderful army, a very effective army out of something that was not too effective before your time.
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General TAPIAS. Thank you, Mr. Ballenger.
Mr. BALLENGER. Let me just say that according to the notes we have here, that there are three of these gentlemen, these Irishmen that are now in jail. Do you have any idea of how many more of this Irish group were there, to your knowledge?
General TAPIAS. I have the following information on Irish nationals, about Irish nationals that are linked to the IRA.
We have John Francis Johnson. We were not able to determine his exact identity. He entered the demilitarized zone and then came in April of last year, and then he came from a trip on a flight from Paris, but he was found after the arrest of these other people.
We also have the case of James Edward Walker. It's the same as the previously mentioned case. We weren't able to determine exactly what his identity was, but he also entered the DMZ and thenin April of last year, went out again on a flight to Paris.
We have the case of Edward Campbell Joseph, alias James Monaghan, who entered Colombia on the 20th of June of 2001 from Paris. He entered the demilitarized zone and was there from the 3rd of July to the moment when he was captured by the Colombian army on the 11th of August, from the 3rd of July to the 11th of August.
According to information we have from European authorities, he was part of the executive directorate of Sinn Fein until 1989. He had been arrested in Dublin in 1971 for possession of explosives, conspiracy and criminal activities, and was in fact in jail for 3 years. And he is the head of the engineering group of the Provisional IRA that is directly responsible for the production of bombs, mortars and missiles. In May of '91, and in September of '97, he had been in Colombia previously, traveling from Miami, at which time he had come in with a U.S. passport.
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Then we have John Joseph Kelly, whose real name is John Joseph McCauley, who also came to Colombia in June of last year from Paris, and he too was in the DMZ training the FARC from the 3rd of July through to the 11th of August of last year. We have in his history, having checked with authorities, that he was hurt by the English forces in 1982, and he was condemned to 2 years of prison in 1985 for illegal possession of weapons, firearms. He is considered to be one of the best and most expert producers, manufacturers of arms, and a particular expertise in the production of mortars.
Chairman HYDE. Would the gentleman yield to me for just a second?
Mr. BALLENGER. Yes, sir. Certainly.
Chairman HYDE. General, you said they are in there training. Training for what? Learning how to march?
General TAPIAS. No, definitely not, Chairman Hyde. They are not there to teach them how to march. It's clear that they are there to teach them how to manage explosives, how to produce arms, how to acquire effective intelligence techniques, and how to train in effective combat techniques. But especially the emphasis has been on the use of explosives and the arms production.
We have this information from people who were actually trained by them in such techniques. This is information that has come from those people who have now passed on that information. They have placed special emphasis also on the production of mortars of great strength with a range of up to 3,000 meters, and all of the points that, and weapons that you saw, I believe, on the videos that were displayed earlier on, these were seized 2 weeks ago in the DMZ and were produced very likely by Monaghan. There is an emphasis also on grenades and munitions, but most especially, as I said, on explosives and arms production.
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Chairman HYDE. Now, these are members of the IRA that you are talking about?
General TAPIAS. On the basis of the information we have in hand, these people are members of the Provisional IRA.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you.
I'm sorry, Mr. Ballenger. Thank you for
Mr. BALLENGER. No, thank you, sir, for adding to the questioning, and I yield back.
General TAPIAS. I was talking earlier about John Joseph Kelly, actually John Joseph McCauley. We have from European authorities information that in 1996, in Upper Bann, in Ireland, he was in fact the director of elections of the political arm of the IRA. He had come from Caracas to Colombia previously in April 1990.
Then we have David Brackman, whose true name is Niall Connolly, and he came to Colombia on the first of July and worked in the DMZ from the 3rd of July to the 11th of August, when he too was arrested. And he in fact was the commando, the head of the training group and in charge of the translation of the training. He had worked for the Irish Foreign Service in Central America for 10 years, as a volunteer, as I might add. He was there as a volunteer with the foreign service.
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He too is well known for his expertise in firearms and explosives. He has been living in Cuba since 1996, and he took his alias, his identity, David Brackman, from a young Irish boy who in fact was killed in 1965.
Now, he too, as others, had come to Colombia in April of 2001 briefly from Paris, over and back from Paris. So he, as others, came over briefly in April, left again in April, and then came back in late June, started working in July and was arrested in August.
There are two more individuals. There is Kevin Nowell Creemley. He was arrested by the Colombia army on the 22nd of August of last year. And then we have Margaret Aust Steindoroughty, who was caught in the Cacau, a southern region of the country on the 4th of September. Both of those two latter individuals were let go because there was not sufficient proof that would warrant their being held.
But we have the case of John Alexander Rodriguez, who was in fact the chauffeur of one of the heads of the FARC, Ramelius, and after he deserted and reported to the authorities we learned that. He admitted that he knew these Irish people, that he had transported them to the DMZ, and in fact the chauffeur has testified to the fact that there have been three different sessions of training; one in 1997, one in 1999, and this last one in 2001.
Then there is another deserter who has provided information. His name is Jovanee Escovar Polania, and according to that person there were approximately 15 Irishmen or Irish nationals who were active in the DMZ. But although that gentleman has spoken of 15, I can only say that we know of seven for sure, which I mentioned earlier on. Of those seven, three are under arrest as I have stated; two were freed, as I mentioned a minute ago, for lack of evidence having been detained, and the other two, as I mentioned, came in and came out before we were able to detain them at all, so that makes seven.
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Chairman HYDE. Thank you.
The gentleman from Indiana.
Mr. BURTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Did I understand, General, that you said the head of the engineering group for the IRA was one of these people?
General TAPIAS. Yes, this comes to us from the intelligence, from certain European intelligence agencies with which we have been in touch.
Mr. BURTON. Okay, I understand.
So one of the more important people in the IRA is working with FARC?
General TAPIAS. That is indeed the information that we have. This is Edward Campbell Joseph, alias Mo. We have this information from the European intelligence units that we contacted, and according to that information he would have been directly involved in the manufacturing of the weapons, of the arms that caused that damage you see over there.
Mr. BURTON. Now, you also said that they are working on mortars that will go as far as 3,000 meters. That's almost two miles, is it not?
Page 118 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General TAPIAS. About a mile and a half. Almost two miles, you are right. That is the 3,000 meters.
Mr. BURTON. Okay, let me ask you just a couple other questions.
Can you tell us the influence of the drug money on the growth of the FARC? We have here that in 1990 they had 8,000 members, and now it's estimated close to 20,000. Is that due in large part to the money they are getting from drug sales?
General TAPIAS. Back in the mid-80s the FARC totaled 2,250 men. Then came a period in which the FARC began to be involved in drug trafficking, and at that point we begin to see quite a marked rise in the influence and in the growth of the FARC.
Initially, it has to be noted the FARC limited its involvement with drug trafficking to affording protection to the labs, to the fields, and they charged for it. But gradually they became much more intimately involved in the actual production and processing of the drugs. At that point, of course, their income skyrocketed, to the point where today we have intelligence information that can prove that the FARC has an annual income of $1 billion with which, of course, they can afford to recruit more, to purchase many more new arms, and acquire vastly varied terrorist techniques and access to more information.
Mr. BURTON. Okay, let me ask one
Chairman HYDE. The gentleman's time has expired.
Page 119 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BURTON. Can I ask one last question? I mean, if you would rather I would not, Mr. Chairman, I will pass.
Chairman HYDE. No, go right ahead. It is all right.
Mr. BURTON. Well, I think it is important for us to understand with the technical assistance they have been getting from these bomb makers from the IRA and elsewhere, how much morehow much additional danger is there to the government of Colombia, and then to the entire hemisphere?
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General TAPIAS. I would like to state at the outset that there has been a fundamental change in the nature of the war that we are waging in Colombia from about the middle of last year. There is no question that from the middle of last year to this date that war has become overtly terrorist.
I would like to state, for instance, that we have had more attacks on the oil pipelines from the middle of last year to now than in the whole of Colombian history to date. The attacks have been centered particularly on one major pipeline, Covenas Pipeline, and in the single attack the Colombian state lost $500 million.
Further, throughout the course of this year, up to and including yesterday, no fewer than 320 electric generating towers have been toppled, leaving vast numbers of people in areas with power outages. More than 30 bridges have been blown up this year. To date for this year, we have had up to 46 car bombs that have exploded in various urban centers in the country. And of the 400 police and military who have died in Colombia in the course of this year, 46 percent have died because of those explosives.
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We have also noted a great increase in the capacity to launch long-range explosives and missiles. People have died as a result of that.
I would say in sum, Mr. Burton, in answering your question, that this terrific onslaught of terrorist activities has been of extreme danger to the economy. It has sowed fear and terror in the hearts of the citizens, and I would say it is attacking the very democratic underpinnings of society in this year of elections. Indeed, one of the presidential candidates in the last few days was attacked, and we were able, and I will close here, we were able to intercept one of these long-range missiles that was trained on the residence of the President of the republic.
Mr. BURTON. [Presiding.] Thank you, General. We have a vote on the floor and I want to make sure we let every Member ask questions before we adjourn. Mr. King.
Mr. KING. Thank you, Mr. Burton.
General, first, I want to welcome you here today and thank you for your testimony. I know we are running short on time, so I will limit my questions as much as I can.
On the issue of Mr. Monaghan, you had stated that you had received information on him from overseas or European intelligence. In the document that was presented to us you say the information on Mr. Monaghan was provided by Mr. Peter Robinson.
General TAPIAS. Our intelligence units were in touch with British intelligence units, because we do not know these people in our area.
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Mr. KING. But here it says that the information was received from Deputy Unionist Democratic Leader, Peter Robinson.
Are you aware of three things: One, Mr. Robinson is a political enemy of Gerry Adams? Two, Mr. Robinson opposed the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process in Ireland? And number three, Mr. Robinson himself has been arrested in Ireland?
General TAPIAS. There is no mention of this person Robinson in the information that we have to present to you. We contacted the U.K. Embassy in Colombia, and our contacts have been therefore with intelligence agencies, not with a designated individual.
Mr. KING. So you are saying then that it was British intelligence that gave you information provided to them by Peter Robinson?
This is on page 5 from the end. It says,
''Information provided by Democratic Unionist Leader, Peter Robinson.''
This is the information that was given to us by you today.
General TAPIAS. Fifth page from the end?
Mr. KING. Yes, five from the end. It's the picture of Mr. Monaghan, and it is the second paragraph.
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General TAPIAS. That is not in my information. It must be some mistake because I do not have any information identifying an actual name of a source of information.
Mr. KING. I believe this was handed out to the media and to everyone in the room as being part of the Colombia Military Force's Joint Intelligence Report on Terrorism, and on the fifth page from the end was the picture of Mr. Monaghan, saying the information was provided by Mr. Robinson. I would appreciate it if we could get this clarified.
General TAPIAS. I did not distribute that.
Mr. KING. Okay.
General TAPIAS. And there might be some misunderstanding.
Mr. KING. Okay. I would ask again if the Committee staff then could explain to us some time what the connections were between Peter Robinson and the Colombia government, and what Peter Robinson's role has been in this entire matter, especially since he is a known opponent of the Irish peace process and a noted opponent of Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein, and obviously would have his own agenda here. It is very unusual that his name would appear in this document and no one seems to know anything about it.
Mr. BURTON. Mr. King, I have just been informed by the staff that they will check on that information and try to get it to you personally as quickly as possible.
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Mr. KING. Thank you, Mr. Burton.
Mr. Tancredo, do you have any questions?
Mr. TANCREDO. Just one, Mr. Chairman, and I will make it very brief.
General, in your communications with British intelligence or anyone else, European intelligence communities that were able to provide you with the information, were they able to tell you whether or not these people were not just simply members of the IRA, but what are the chancesI guess, what I am getting to is thisdo you think that these people were here on their own as sort of rogue elements or free agents? Or what are the chances that in fact they were here at the direction of the IRA? What is your opinion of that given the information you have available to you, because that is what we are really trying to determine here?
General TAPIAS. You are asking me, if I have understood your question, for my opinion, my sense of whether these guys came on their own or whether they were sent. And of course, to express an opinion on a matter of such gravity would be a very grave matter itself. That is why, with all due respect, I can only limit myself to stating forth here what I know; that is, speaking to the facts and not to my opinion about the facts.
So what I have stated is what I know, what hard evidence has come into my hands from the terrorists who have either deserted or who have been captured, or from various intelligence sources as we have received it.
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Mr. TANCREDO. Thank you very much.
I have one other question that I will submit in writing with the permission of the Chair.
Mr. BURTON. Without objection.
We also have some documents, I think, that might bear on what the gentleman just asked, and those will be put in the record as well, and without objection, so ordered.
We want to thank you, General. We really appreciate your being here. And with that we stand adjourned.
General TAPIAS. Thank you, Mr. Burton.
[Whereupon, at 1:20 p.m., the Committee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
QUESTION SUBMITTED AFTER THE HEARING BY THE HONORABLE HENRY J. HYDE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, AND CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, TO THE HONORABLE ASA HUTCHINSON, AND MR. HUTCHINSON'S RESPONSE
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Have there been any recent incidents involving DEA personnel (agents or support staff) in Colombia, or at DEA facilities or proposed DEA facilities anywhere in Colombia, where FARC terrorist bombs, or attempted bombings, may, or could have put either your DEA personnel or these leased DEA facilities at risk?
On April 19, 2002, three bombs detonated in Cartagena, Colombia. The bombings resulted in the death of two people, including an anti-explosives police officer, and injuries to two other individuals. Two of these bombs detonated at an office building which is the future site of the Cartagena Resident Office. All available evidence to date points to an electric company, Electacosta, as the intended target of the bombings. The electric company for years has had serious labor unrest. There have been no claims of responsibility for the bombings.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. Chairman, as you are aware, I have stated my concerns regarding the direction of this hearing and the potentially negative consequences it may have on the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland.
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At the heart of this issue is the implication that Sinn Fein bears responsibility for the actions of the three Irish nationals arrested in Colombia on charges of aiding the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). I have not seen any evidence linking the alleged actions of these men to Sinn Fein, nor am I aware that the Colombian government is asserting such a claim in this case.
The letter I received on March 28, 2002 from Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams outlines his party's disavowal of any connection to the alleged terrorist activities in Colombia. Mr. Adams has repeatedly stated Sinn Fein's opposition to international terrorism and has rejected any interference on behalf of his party into the affairs of any sovereign power.
Moreover, when I personally met with Mr. Adams last month in my district office, he explicitly stated his rejection of the allegations in the press of any connection between Sinn Fein and narco-terrorism in Colombia.
Accordingly, it is my hope that this hearing will not tarnish Sinn Fein which, as one of the four major political parties in the Northern Ireland assembly, has served as a vehicle for democratic participation for a large and formerly disenfranchised segment of the north's population. I want to thank Mr. King for his remarks, to which I want to be associated, and I look forward to the testimony of the distinguished panel assembled before our Committee's hearing.
Page 127 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCQUESTION SUBMITTED AFTER THE HEARING BY THE HONORABLE THOMAS G. TANCREDO, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF COLORADO, TO GENERAL TAPIAS
As the advantages of using Commercial Satellite Imagery for your purposes include unclassified data and details specific enough to identify key terrain and agricultural features, have you considered use of U.S. Commercial Satellite Imagery or a commercial ground station receiver to meet specific counter-terrorism or counter-narcotics needs?
NOTE: At the time of printing, no response was received.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
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Mr. Chairman, I would first like to commend you for holding this hearing and for your investigative staff which has, on this and other related issues, done an outstanding job of uncovering the links in the Western Hemisphere which threaten U.S. national security.
In 1993, researchers for the Hudson Institute working on a DOD/ ISA comparative study on Colombia and Peru/ narcotics and guerrillas, confirmed through interviews with Cuban defectors, that the Castro regime's Ambassador to Colombia in the late 1970s, Fernando Ravelo-Revedo, had been the one assigned by Castro to coordinate the drugs, for money, for weapons network linking narco-traffickers to the ELN and FARC guerrillas.
These assertions further substantiated the 1988 grand jury testimony of Jose Blandon Castillo, a former intelligence aid to Panamanian strongman, General Noriega, who outlined how Fidel Castro and his officials, had implemented an overall system for the management of the drug-and-arms traffic in Central America and the Andean countries.
Castro's theory, as relayed to Blandon, was: ''If you want to have an influence on Colombia's political world, you have to have an influence on the drug-trafficking world, too.''
The Cuba-FARC-narco-trafficking relationship evolved into a sophisticated web which included the training of these groups in Cuba, as well as the deployment of Cuban agents to Colombia, for the purpose of intensifying the aggression and threat posed to the government.
Originally, as experts on the Colombia guerrilla movements have explained, the FARC followed a traditional revolutionary styleone that had not had the desired effect of displacing or significantly challenging the stability and existence of this Andean nation's governing structure and order.
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In the mid-1990s, the FARC, the one-time insurgents or guerrillas, morphed into terrorists, as enhancement of profits from narco-trafficking became the priority. In order to achieve this goal, they had to precipitate the demise of Colombian democracy and take the reins of power.
There was an aggressive movement toward the densely populated areas, with the use of car bombs becoming an instrument of choice. As preliminary investigations indicate, this is also around the time when sources reveal that IRA representatives first appeared in Colombia.
According to Colombian authorities, the numbers of IRA-linked individuals who have visited Colombia in the last years are not as revealing as the stature of some of these individuals, whom Colombian authorities say have trained the FARC in mortar, especially targeting police bomb techniciansmethods identified as well-established IRA modus operandi.
And still, the links to Cuba are too many to ignore.
For example, on August 11th of last year, three IRA-linked individuals were arrested at the El Dorado Airport in Bogota after leaving territory in southern Colombia controlled by the FARC. All three were found to have traces of explosives on their person and luggage.
One of them, was a representative of Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing, who was known to be stationed in Cuba and who, according to sources, was on the payroll of the Cuban Communist Party.
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Given the escalating violence in Colombia and increasing attacks on American citizens and property in that country, it is imperative that we delve further into this matter, in order to effectively address the threats to regional stability and U.S. national security emanating from this network.
It is particularly important, as we prepare to consider legislation on the authorization of funds for the U.S. counter-narcotics/ counter-terrorism effort in Colombia, and as legislative attempts are made to engage in the sharing of resources and intelligence with the Castro regime toward a U.S.-Cuba cooperative arrangement in the counter-narcotics front.
I thank the Chairman for the time and I look forward to the opportunity to ask questions of the witnesses.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE DAN BURTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF INDIANA
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to appear in the House International Relations Committee, as this is a very important time to address the subject of drug trafficking and international terrorism.
We all realize that we are not immune to terror. The reality of September 11th has stripped away many of the myths about the drug trade and how it has long funded international terrorism. The international criminal organizations that deal in drugs and weapons fund what we have suffered.
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In our hemisphere, the Colombia drug trade is growing and it costs the United States nearly 20,000 lives a year. Inside Colombia, it costs them nearly 15,000 lives a year.
When you talk about terrorism in Colombia, the FARC, ELN and AUC are in the drug trade. They are brutal terrorists and they kill innocent people without rhyme or reason. They are terrorists. They have been terrorists for a long, long time. It didn't just happen yesterday, my friends.
The FARC is responsible for kidnaping 55 American citizens in just the past decade. Oddly, little or nothing has been said about this in the press, or worse yet, by our State Department! We knew full well the terrorist organizations we faced. Today, it's time to call a spade, a spade.
The FARC is a killing machine, funded by illegal drugs. On top of that, our fo the 55 American citizens taken hostage by the FARC, 12 have been brutally murdered in just the past five years. This is terrorism, any way you look at it!
I remember over five years ago, when General Rosso Jose Serrano of the Colombian National Police told Chairman Ben Gilman and I that he believed that the FARC was a new drug cartel. He was correct. But, at the same time, the U.S. Ambassador to Colombia, Myles Frechette, stated that there was ''no direct connection between the FARC guerrillas and the drug trade.''
Page 132 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What was our State Department and the U.S. embassy in Bogota missing? Did they have their heads buried in the sand? History has proven that they did. The axis of drug traffickers and guerrillas has been an open secret in Colombia for a long time. But today, it is staring us in the face, and we cannot look away. We cannot blinkwe must recognize the trust. And the trust is ugly, very ugly!
On December 15, 2001, I wrote to Secretary of State Colin Powell to inquire on a nine- year terrorist case involving the FARC. It involved three missionaries who were taken hostage in Panama and then brought into Colombia by the FARC. This case has gone on for nine years, and the State Department personnel here in Washington and at the U.S. embassy in Bogota could only answer our investigative staff, which requested a report on the case, with a terse, bureaucratic reply that ''There was no report.'' But there was a report; we checked with the FBI and the Colombian National Police. And that's why there is an open, Government Reform Committee oversight investigation ongoing today.
So, if that is the response to terrorism in Colombia that costs the lives of U.S. citizens, then I can fully understand why the drug connection with these terrorist organizations is clouded today. I hope that the witnesses can help us get a clearer picture of the crisis in Colombia, it's relationship to international terrorist organizations such as the IRA, and how it affects the United States. We've got plenty of questions here and we need to get some answers.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Thank you Mr. Chairman for calling this important hearing and for allowing me to address the Committee regarding the connections that exist not only between the IRA and the FARC, but also the dictatorship in Cuba. With your permission Mr. Chairman, I would like to submit for inclusion in the record a special edition of the U.S.-Cuba Policy Report by Mr. Ralph Galliano.
Mr. Chairman, the network of terrorism which encircles our globe neglects no attempts to develop relationships with morally bankrupt regimes. As we have seen with Al Qaeda links to state sponsors, it is also crucial when analyzing the links between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to note their shared connection with the Cuban dictatorship.
As this Committee has brought to the forefront today, the arrest in Bogota on August 11th of three IRA members highlights the link between the IRA and the FARC. As we know, the FARC has fostered support from other radical organizations, including the IRA. As the FARC intends to take its terrorist efforts to the cities of Colombia, the insidious knowledge of urban bombing techniques provided by the IRA fits the pattern of the FARC's continued terrorist practices. Indeed, the recent rash of urban bombings in Colombia carried out by the FARC closely resembled those seen in Northern Ireland over the past several decades. Castro's regime has encouraged the relationship between these two groupsto increase the blight of terrorism within our own hemisphere.
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The relationship between the FARC and Castro's Cuba is well known. According to the State Department's Terrorist List, ''Havana also maintained ties to other state sponsors of terrorism and Latin American insurgents. Colombia's two largest terrorist organizations, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army, both maintained a permanent presence on the island.'' Castro's Cubasafe haven to some of the world's worst terroristshas also harbored the IRA.
Niall Connolly, the leader of the three arrested IRA terrorists, has resided in Havana, Cuba for at least the past five yearsand according to a Cuban foreign ministry spokeswomen, ''Mr. Niall Terence Connolly is the official representative of Sinn Fein for Cuba and Latin America.''
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE BOB BARR, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF GEORGIA
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the House International Relations Committee, at this very important time, to address the subject of drug trafficking and international terrorism.
The reality of September 11th has stripped away many of the fallacies surrounding the drug trade, and now all but those who refuse to see, know it has long funded international terrorism and the terrorism that results from international criminal organizations. The Colombian drug trade is growing; costing the United States nearly 20,000 lives-a-year.
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First of all, when you talk about terrorism in Colombia, the FARC, ELN and AUC just happen to be poster children for the nexus between drugs and terrorists. This didn't just happen overnight!!!
The FARC is responsible for kidnaping 52 American citizens in the past decade. Oddly, this is the same number of Americans that were held hostage by Iran in 1979. We knew full well the terrorist organizations we faced. Today, it's time to call a spadea spade.
On top of that, out of the 52 American citizens taken hostage by the FARC, 12 have been brutally murdered in just the past five years. This is terrorism, any way you cut it!!!
I remember over five years ago, out in the jungles of Meta Department, General Rosso Jose Serrano of the Colombian National Police told me he believed the FARC was a new drug cartel. At the same time, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia stated there was ''no direct connection between the FARC guerrillas and the drug trade.''
What was our State Department and the U.S. embassy in Bogota missing?
It has long been said that bureaucracies fail to clearly identify a problem, because then they will be obliged to do something about it. The nexus between drug traffickers and guerrillas has been an open secret in Colombia for a long, long, time.
Page 137 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This is what I see when I look at Colombia today.
On December 5, 2001, (copy of letter attached), I wrote to Secretary of State Colin Powell, inquiring into a nine-year old terrorist case involving the FARC. It involved three missionaries who were taken hostage in Panama, then brought to Colombia by the FARC. This case has gone on for nine years, and the State Department personnel here in Washington, D.C. and at the U.S. embassy in Bogota could only answer our investigative staff, which requested a report on the case, with a reply that ''There was no report.''
Do you think the State Department would give that reply to the family of Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl, who was kidnaped and murdered in Pakistan by terrorists? I doubt it.
But that's what Mr. Ian Brownlee told our investigative staff on November 29, 2001. And that's why there has been an open, Government Reform Committee oversight investigation started by Chairman Dan Burton, ongoing today.
So, if this is our response to terrorism in Colombia that costs the lives of U.S. citizens, then I can fully understand why the drug nexus with terrorist organizations is clouded today. I hope the witnesses can help us get a clearer picture of the crisis in Colombia and how it affects the United States. We need to get some hard answers.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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(Footnote 1 return)
Numbers used for size of Colombian terror groups are based on Colombian government estimates.
(Footnote 2 return)
Since the IRA split, the group traditionally referred to as the IRA is now technically the PIRA; other splinter group Real IRA has been designated an FTO.