US Attorney Charges Three Al Qaeda Associatres with Conspiring to Transport Cocaine For The FARC – Law Newswire –
PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, and MICHELE M. LEONHART, the
Acting Administrator of the United States Drug Enforcement
Administration (“DEA”), announced that OUMAR ISSA, HAROUNA TOURÉ,
and IDRISS ABELRAHMAN arrived in the Southern District of New
York early this morning to face charges of conspiracy to commit
acts of narco-terrorism and conspiracy to provide material
support to a foreign terrorist organization. The charges stem
from the defendants’ alleged agreement to transport cocaine
through West and North Africa with the intent to support three
terrorist organizations — Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in the Islamic
Magreb (“AQIM”), and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de
Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or “FARC”).
All three organizations have been designated by the United States
Department of State as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

The charges in this case mark the first time that
associates of Al Qaeda have been charged with narco-terrorism
offenses. ISSA, TOURÉ, and ABELRAHMAN were arrested in Ghana on
December 16, 2009, at the request of the United States;
thereafter, they were transferred to the custody of the United
States and transported to the Southern District of New York. The
defendants are expected to be presented in Manhattan federal
court later today before United States Magistrate Judge JAMES C.

According to the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan
federal court:
Al Qaeda And AQIM
Founded in 1989, Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization
which has as its principal goal to attack the United States. Al
Qaeda functions on its own and through various terrorist
organizations that operate under it. The group now known as AQIM
— formerly the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (“GSPC”)
— was founded in the late 1990s with the assistance of USAMA BIN
LADEN. On September 11, 2006, AYMAN AL ZAWAHIRI, a high-ranking
Al Qaeda member and close associate of BIN LADEN, announced that
GSPC had joined Al Qaeda and called for “our brothers of the GSPC
to hit the foundations of the Crusader alliance, primarily their
old leader the infidel United States.”

From 1964 until the present, the FARC has been an
international terrorist group dedicated to the violent overthrow
of the democratically elected Government of Colombia. The FARC
is highly structured and organized as a military group. To
further its goals, the FARC actively engages in narcotics
trafficking as a financing mechanism and has evolved into the
world’s largest supplier of cocaine. For at least the past five
years, the FARC has directed violent acts against U.S. persons
and commercial and property interests in foreign jurisdictions,
including in Colombia. The FARC leadership has directed the
kidnapping and murder of U.S. citizens and attacks on U.S.
interests in order to dissuade the United States from continuing
its efforts to disrupt the FARC’s cocaine manufacturing and
trafficking activities.

The Narco-Terrorism And Material Support Conspiracies
Between September 2009 and December 2009, ISSA, TOURÉ,
and ABELRAHMAN, who stated that they were associated with Al
Qaeda, conspired to assist purported representatives of the FARC
in transporting hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from West Africa
through North Africa and ultimately into Spain. In a series of
telephone calls and meetings with two confidential sources
working with the DEA who claimed to represent the FARC (the
“CSs”), the defendants stated that they had a transportation
route from West Africa through North Africa, and that Al Qaeda
could provide protection for the cocaine along that route.

At an initial meeting with one of the DEA confidential
sources (“CS-1”), ISSA stated that his boss, TOURÉ, could
facilitate this cocaine transportation. At a subsequent meeting,
ISSA introduced CS-1 to TOURÉ, describing him as a leader of a
criminal organization that worked with Al Qaeda-affiliated groups
in North Africa.

During meetings with the CSs, TOURÉ described his
strong relationship with Al Qaeda groups that controlled areas of
North Africa, and discussed other instances in which he had
transported drugs with Al Qaeda’s assistance. TOURÉ stated that
Al Qaeda would protect the FARC’s cocaine shipment from Mali
through North Africa and into Morocco en route to Spain. More
specifically, TOURÉ discussed the option of two different
transportation routes: one through Algeria and Libya, and the
other through Algeria and Morocco. TOURÉ also discussed the
possibility of kidnapping foreign nationals to raise money for
the cause.

TOURÉ later agreed to introduce CS-1 to a
representative of the group that would handle the security of the
cocaine while it was being transported. The CSs subsequently met
with TOURÉ and ABELRAHMAN, who was introduced as a leader of a
“militia” of armed men. ABELRAHMAN discussed with the CSs the
shared goals of the FARC and ABELRAHMAN’s organization, including
the fact that they were committed to the same anti-American

* * *
The defendants each are charged with one count of
narco-terrorism conspiracy, which carries a mandatory minimum
sentence of 20 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison,
and one count of conspiring to provide material support to a
foreign terrorist organization, which carries a maximum sentence
of 15 years in prison.

“Today’s allegations reflect the emergence of a
worrisome alliance between Al Qaeda and transnational narcotics
traffickers. As terrorists diversify into drugs, however, they
provide us with more opportunities to incapacitate them and cut
off the funding for future acts of terror,” said United States
Attorney PREET BHARARA. “We will continue to work with our
partners at the DEA, in Ghana, and around the world to meet the
threat narco-terrorism poses to our national security.”
“Today’s arrests are further proof of the direct link
between dangerous terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda,
and international drug trafficking that fuels their violent
activities,” said DEA Acting Administrator MICHELE M. LEONHART.
“These narco-terrorists do not respect borders and do not care
who they harm with their drug trafficking conspiracies. Working
with our narcotics law enforcement partners in Ghana and across
the globe, DEA is making unprecedented progress in dismantling
illicit drug networks in western Africa and around the world, and
putting the criminals who operate them behind bars, where they

The charges unsealed today were the result of the
coordinated efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office for
the Southern District of New York and the DEA’s Special
Operations Division and Ghana Office. Mr. BHARARA praised the
outstanding investigative work of the DEA and thanked the
Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, its
National Security Division, and the Department of State for their
assistance. Mr. BHARARA also thanked the Government of Ghana for
its cooperation.

Assistant United States Attorneys JEFFREY A. BROWN and
CHRISTIAN R. EVERDELL are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely
accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and
until proven guilty.
09-430 ###

Scroll to Top