Los Angeles Times

Colombia fears rebels may get surface-to-air missiles

Sept 14--The arms would force Colombia to revise its air superiority strategy, which has dealt a blow to the FARC. Colombian and U.S. officials track attempted arms sales and have arrested three dealers.

14 de septiembre de 2009

Colombia and the United States have a recurring worry: This country's largest rebel group succeeds in acquiring surface-to-air missiles and forces the government to alter a strategy that has knocked the insurgents on their heels and turned the tide in a decades-long conflict.

There are reasons for concern. Last month, a Syrian arms trafficker was arrested in Honduras as he tried to sell missiles and other weapons to U.S. undercover agents posing as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

The sting was the third in two years in which arms traffickers were caught allegedly trying to sell missiles to U.S. informants or agents posing as Colombians.

In this case, Syrian suspect Jamal Yousef was extradited to the United States, where he pleaded not guilty in New York federal court. According to the indictment, he tried to trade 17 or 18 surface-to-air missiles or SAMs; 200 assault rifles; C-4 explosives; and 2,500 hand grenades for 1 ton of cocaine offered by the undercover agents.

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