05 enero 2009

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The world of the FARC (Part I: Europe)

SEMANA/judicialThe computer of “Raúl Reyes” played an important role in 2008. SEMANA investigated what has happened with it and has uncovered new revelations and the surprising effects it has had in nearly 30 countries where the guerrillas have a presence. In this first part, the magazine reveals how the rebel group operates in various European countries.

The world of the FARC (Part I: Europe).

During the Second World War, when the Allies found the so-called Enigma machine, which was the key apparatus for secret communications for the Germans, the balance tipped in their favor. Today, nine months following the find of the computer of “Raúl Reyes,” a similar comparison could be made about t
he importance of this apparatus for the Colombian government in its war against the FARC. Inside the computer were guerrilla secrets spanning four decades.

SEMANA tracked what has happened with these revelations and found a lot of information that until now had not been publicly revealed. In the last few months, Colombian authorities have dedicated themselves to untangle the impressive web of support networks that the FARC has created in more than 30 countries. With time, and after the Interpol certification, the authenticity of the information from the computer has been confirmed. Until now, although there have been controversies about the interpretation of some of the found messages, no data from the computer has been contradicted.

In most of the countries, thanks to the information from the computer, judicial investigations have begun and in Spain, Canada and Costa Rica this information has been key in several arrests. The following are some of the places where the FARC has extended its tentacles, according to the computer of “Reyes.”
 
Spain

Thanks to information from the computer, Spanish authorities confirmed the alliance and exchange of terrorist methods between the FARC and ETA, the Basque separatist group. The information helped to detect guerrilla networks in that country. One of the links for subversive actions in Spain, María Remedios García, alias “Irene,” was arrested by Spanish authorities and confessed her work for the FARC. Several ETA members who trained the FARC in explosives have also been arrested. There is evidence of an alliance between FARC guerrillas with Spanish drug trafficking groups.
France

FARC emails revealed the controversial actions of French government emissary Noel Saez. It was discovered, among other things, that in July 2003 France paid the FARC so that they would free Íngrid Betancourt. But they were fooled by false guerrilla spokespersons. Saez, in the name of the French government and behind the backs of the Colombian government, offered to take the FARC off the list of terrorist organizations, open up a diplomatic representation office in Paris and authorize long-term visas for FARC spokespersons. There was also evidence from the emails about how France received several of the children and family members of FARC Secretariat members, as well as guerrillas who have lived for years in that European country.

United Kingdom

Evidence was found that at least one NGO with headquarters in the United Kingdom provided financial support and technological and political consulting to FARC support networks in Europe.

Belgium

There is evidence of support networks that offered protection and refuge to subversives pursued by justice and also to injured FARC members. European recruitment efforts for the FARC by those networks was detected and it was even established that several Belgian citizens were in Colombia receiving political and military training by the guerrillas.

The Netherlands

“Reyes’” computer revealed the recruitment strategy in The Netherlands. The emails established that, in addition to the well-known case of Tanja Nijmeijer, the young Dutch woman who joined the FARC, at least five other Dutch citizens received political and military training by the guerrillas and serve as European links for the FARC.

Italy

The FARC structure in Italy was identified. Economic and logistical help by members of the Italian Communist Party was also revealed. Italian justice authorities launched an investigation on Ramon Mantovani, former official of the Refundación Comunista and Marco Consolo, Latin America representative of that same leftist party, for collaboration with terrorist groups. Thanks to information found in the computer, Italian police discovered that the FARC activated five support cells, known as “Jacobo Arenas,” “Francesco Lai,” “María Cano,” “Marquetalia” and “Jaime Pardo.” Italian authorities have identified at least four Colombian guerrillas who serve as coordinators of those structures. They operate under the aliases of “Fausto,” “Pablo,” “Federico” and “Camila.”

Denmark

The computer of “Reyes” showed the fundraising work and spreading of FARC documents by a Danish citizens group. One of the main FARC links is a Dane who appears in emails as “Carlos Mono.” He was active in Copenhagen, Oslo and in Stockholm. “Carlos Mono” participated in the production of internal FARC documents and was decisive in the legal registration in Sweden of the Anncol agency, which disseminates information about the FARC. The emails from “Reyes” were key for Denmark’s Eastern High Court in the arrest of six Danes from the group Fighters and Lovers, who offered support to the FARC by selling t-shirts with illustrations alluding to the guerrilla movement.

Sweden

Emails from the “Reyes” computer allowed for the full identification of FARC members who have sought refuge in Sweden. They also confirmed that for many years the guerrillas and their collaborators of other nationalities decided that Sweden was the ideal location as a propaganda “headquarters.” It has been established that the Anncol webpage and the leftist Café Stereo radio information service received financing from the FARC, something that they had denied for years.

Norway

Several emails showed ties between the FARC and an organization known as Norwegian Socialist Youth League (SU). Several members traveled to Colombia to receive political and military training in guerrilla camps. In Norway they have raised money for the FARC and have hosted FARC guerrillas on their European trips.

Germany

It was determined that the FARC had several Internet servers in Germany, some of which were located in Berlin. Through these servers, the FARC managed the webpage New Colombia Alternative Info Group. Part of the financing came from resources sent by the guerrillas, from leftist sectors and from German NGOs.

Turkey

The FARC had a close communication and collaboration with the Turkish Communist Party (TKP). Several delegates from that organization traveled to the jungles of Colombia to close a deal for the sale of surface to air missiles that was never finalized. The Turks gave political and military training courses to the guerrillas.

The Farc in other continents
 
Libya

There were contacts made between the FARC and the government of Muammar Gaddafi. In 2000, FARC members visited Libya. Although they asked for financial support, it has not been established whether the contribution materialized. It is documented, however, that alliances were made for a later arms and munitions purchase.
 
Australia

With the help of members from the Venezuelan government, the FARC succeeded in getting in contact with a group of arms traffickers in Australia. The Australians were in guerrilla camps carrying out a transaction that included the sales of guns, munitions and grenades.

Tomorrow, Semana International will present the influence the FARC has in South America, Central America and North America.
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