Freedom Folks

Friday, January 27, 2006

Fake Passport Ring With Terror Ties Busted

How about a hot steaming cup of "Oh Crap!"

BOGOTA, Colombia - Colombian has dismantled a false passport ring with links to al-Qaida and Hamas militants, the acting attorney general said Thursday after authorities led dozens of simultaneous raids across five cities in collaboration with U.S. officials.

In Washington, however, Justice and Homeland Security officials were surprised by the announcement of the investigation, which they said involved people posing as members of Colombia's largest rebel army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC — not al-Qaida or Hamas.

Colombian officials said the gang allegedly supplied an unknown number of citizens from Pakistan, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and other countries with false passports and Colombian nationality without them ever setting foot in the country.

An undisclosed number of those arrested are wanted for working with the al-Qaida terror network and the militant Palestinian group Hamas, said acting Attorney General Jorge Armando Otalora.

The counterfeit Colombian, Spanish, Portugese and German passports were used to enter the United States and Europe, he said. *snip*

"We are not alleging any connections to any terror organization other than the FARC," said Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra.

He said the U.S. will seek to extradite the 10 alleged smugglers, of whom eight have
been arrested.

"The operation was, in fact, a sting operation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement," he said, adding that Colombian law enforcement were "an active and critical part" of the investigation. *snip*

U.S. officials have long feared al-Qaida could take advantage of corrupt government officials and weak institutions to launch an attack from south of the border.
They better not be blowing smoke.



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