#AceNewsServices – COLUMBIA – October 26 – Alexander Beltran Herrera, 38, a commander of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) terrorist organization, was sentenced on October 24 to 27 years in prison on federal hostage-taking charges stemming from the 2003 capture of three U.S. citizens in Colombia.
All told, members of the FARC held the Americans hostage for 1,967 days.
The sentence was announced by John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Division.
Beltran Herrera, aka Jhon Alexander Beltrain Herrera, aka Rodrigo Pirinolo, pled guilty on March 18, 2014, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to three counts of hostage-taking. He was sentenced by the Honorable Senior Judge Royce C. Lamberth.
“In February 2003, the FARC – a Colombian terrorist organization – kidnapped three American citizens and held them captive for nearly 2,000 days,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. With the sentence handed down today, Alexander Beltran Herrera is being held accountable for his role in those offenses.
This case underscores our resolve to pursue and bring to justice those who target our citizens with violence anywhere in the world.
I want to thank all of the prosecutors, agents, and analysts who made this result possible.”
History of FARC:
According to the government’s evidence, the FARC is an armed, violent organization in Colombia. Since its inception in 1964, it has engaged in an armed conflict to overthrow the Republic of Colombia, South America’s longest-standing democracy.
The FARC has consistently used hostage taking as a primary technique in extorting demands from the Republic of Colombia, and hostage taking has been endorsed and commanded by FARC senior leadership. The FARC has characterized American citizens as “military targets” and has engaged in violent acts against Americans in Colombia, including murders and hostage taking.
The FARC was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. Secretary of State in 1997 and remains so designated.
Beltran Herrera, a commander in the FARC, was involved in the hostage taking of three United States citizens: Marc D. Gonsalves, Thomas R. Howes, and Keith Stansell. These three, along with Thomas Janis, a United States citizen, and Sergeant Luis Alcides Cruz, a Colombian citizen, were seized on Feb. 13, 2003, by the FARC, after their single-engine aircraft made a crash landing in the Colombian jungle.
Members of the FARC murdered Janis and Cruz near the crash site. Gonsalves, Howes, and Stansell were held by the FARC at gunpoint and were advised by FARC leadership that they would be used as hostages to increase pressure on the government of Colombia to agree to the FARC’s demands. At various times, the FARC marched the hostages from one site to another, placing them in the actual custody of various FARC fronts.
At the conclusion of one 40-day long march, in or about November 2004, the hostages were delivered to members of the FARC’s 27th Front, who imprisoned the hostages for nearly two years.
During part of this period, Beltran Herrera was responsible for moving the hostages and keeping them imprisoned. Throughout the captivity of these three hostages, FARC jailors and guards used choke harnesses, chains, padlocks and wires to restrain the hostages, and used force and threats to continue their detention and prevent their escape.
In July 2008, the Colombian military conducted a daring operation which resulted in the rescue of the hostages.
Beltran Herrera was indicted in February 2011 and was extradited to the United States from Colombia in March 2012.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Miami Division. The case was indicted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Kohl, of the National Security Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
National Security Division
#AceWorldNews – COLUMBIA – October 12 – Half a ton of cocaine has been seized in a joint operation between Colombia and France, according to the Colombian authorities.
The special operation managed to intercept a speed boat travelling from Colombia to the Dominican Republic where the drugs were found.
Three Colombians aboard the boat were arrested, according to the El Heraldo publication.
So far this year alone, the Colombian navy has seized more than 29 tons of drugs in the Caribbean Sea.
#AceNewsServices – PAKISTAN – October 11 – The phenomenon of “child soldiers” is not new to this globe. From the far western shores of Americas, to Africa and Asia, the world continues to witness the rise of soldiers that are mere children.
The world is stunned beyond limits to see that humanity has fallen to this level in the exploitation of young innocent children as child recruits for fundamentalist agendas.
The use of child soldiers has spread to almost all the global armed conflict. Though an exact number is impossible to define, thousands of child soldiers are illegally serving in armed conflict around the world.
According to Do Something Org, many countries are allegedly reported on use of under-age soldiers, these include Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mali, Pakistan, Thailand, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and more.
I am sure many are already geared up with the anti-Pakistani stereotypes that deem that whole of Pakistan is a terrorist country and on this list, I get this hatred towards Pakistan is a global trend but not many of you know the dynamics of child militia here. And am taking this opportunity to shed some light on various important areas.
Pakistan|Trending Local Child Soldiers issue
The growing phenomenon of child militants in Pakistan is a horrific reality, one mirrored in various conflicts throughout history. Young innocent children are targeted because they can be easily brain washed by militant groups.
The cycle of poverty, large family size and economic hardships are factors that leave vulnerable parents little choice but to send children in local madrassas as they are free of cost. The constitution Article 25-A says the State shall provide free and compulsory education to children between ages of 5 to 16. However that’s not being followed as millions of children are out of school and our literary rate is appalling low at 48%.
Most people have no choice but to send their children to religious schools or madrassas as. Moreover, there are huge discrepancies because education in Pakistan is heavily influenced by religion and in recent times Wahabi agendas.
The main source of funding for these madrasa groups is coming from Saudi Arabia. In fact, this whole phenomenon that we are confronting, which Al Qaeda is a part of, is very closely associated with Saudi Arabia’s financial and religious projects for the Muslim world as a whole. Its in greater interests to keep Pakistani children stuck into poverty cycles as they serve a greater agenda, shame on Pakistani government for colluding against its own.
Local madrassas cater Pakistani children as well as international students who avail the lucrative scholarship fundings from Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia.
However coming back to Pakistan, the different militant groups including TTP, LeT and so on have been able to harness the young Pakistani children in scores through enticing tactics.
Local Militant Recruitment Mechanism
The militant have sinister agendas however on the forefront they are able to cajole and manipulate young children by reminding them the sufferings of the Muslim world and that they have to play a role in eradication of misery; through this jihad.
Upon meeting some under-age boy militants in Swat, I found out that for years they have attended the madrassas whose lecturers and mentors taught them things like ” The Pakistan Army is the ally of the Western capitalist world; they the imperialists are all the enemies of Islam. The fight against them is justified; they are apostates, the friends of the infidels.”
The second message drummed into them is one which the world is facing today. The increasing intolerance towards Muslims and followers of faith Islam within their own regions and in the western world. Sadly this is capitalized upon very well by the militant groups. The young recruits are taught that they have to stand up against the helplessness of Muslim women, daughters and sisters that are getting dishonored by non-Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine etc.
They also watch videos purportedly showing the killing of Muslims by non-Muslims in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Instructors tell them that a war is being waged against Islam.
That the western world is at war with Islam has given a trump card to Pakistan’s militants for this sort of radical enticement of vulnerable children.
These main themes in lectures are taught to in both the senior recruits camps (ages 16 and older) and junior ones (ages 7 to 15), all are centered on vengeance and the need to do something for the wronged Muslims.The children are completely isolated from the normal outside world.
The young would-be suicide bombers are also persuaded by the promise of Paradise. This is, I repeat a huge blasphemy against the real teachings for if have to view from Islamic point of view; suicide is strictly forbidden along with the killing of innocent persons. Allah, God is the author of life that has granted us the gift of life and we mere humans don’t have the authority to take it.
This using of innocent children by militancy has to stop now. But. The inability of the Pakistan army to meet internal security challenges effectively is a particularly worrying factor. Three generations of Pakistani children are suffering due to the impact of this futile jihadi indoctrination.
It is time to seriously put an end to this madness, before it consumes us within the dark abysses of hatred and destruction.I am so exhausted to waking up in the mornings with the first thought in mind,What the hell happened Pakistan? And then trying to fix it some how in my way.
Though, we can’t bring back the already dead Pakistani children militants and can hardly ease the misery of the grieving parents, it is time for Pakistan to asses the complex root causes behind this phenomenon and design solutions for protection of children from becoming part of militancy.
SEA: Related News: DO Something NOW
Pakistan|Child Soldiers A Growing Asset For Radicals
#AceWorldNews – UNITED STATES (Columbia S.C) – September 11 – South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell has been indicted by a grand jury on charges related to misuse of his office and campaign finance violations.
The indictments by the Richland County grand jury were announced Wednesday by First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe.
The nine charges against the Charleston Republican are two counts of misconduct in office, six counts of using campaign funds for personal use, and one count of false reporting candidate campaign disclosures.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Harrell should resign.
The indictments are the latest development in a bitter political dispute over how to handle this case that has lasted more than 18 months.
In February 2013, Ashley Landress of the South Carolina Police Council, a political group that advocates for smaller government, filed a complaint against Harrell with the State Ethics Commission. In it, she claimed the speaker used his office for personal gain for both himself and his family.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson asked the State Law Enforcement Division to look into the matter, and referred it to the state grand jury in January.
#AceWorldNews – UNITED STATES(Washington) – June 28 – The Libyan militant suspected in the deadly 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi has been taken into federal custody, the US attorney’s office in Washington told Reuters on Saturday.
“Ahmed Abu Khatallah is in law enforcement custody,” said Bill Miller, spokesman for the US attorney’s office for the District of Columbia. Khatallah was captured by a team of US Army Delta Force commandos during a June 15 Benghazi raid.
The suspect was spirited out of Libya by the special operations unit and brought to Washington on board the amphibious transport ship USS New York, according to US media reports.
He has been charged with killing a person on US property, a firearms violation and providing material support to terrorism.
#AceNewsServices – COLUMBIA – June 01 – Colombian police have arrested 46 members of the Rastrojos criminal gang in northern Atlantico department.
They are accused of extortion from shop owners and selling illegal drugs in the coastal city of Barranquilla.
President Juan Manuel Santos described the operation as “the biggest blow against Colombian criminal organisations in a decade”.
The US Special Agencies say the Rastrojos have smuggled at least 30 tonnes of cocaine into Mexico since 2008.
Some of the criminal organisation’s leaders in the area were detained in the raid, which happened on Friday but was announced later by President Santos.
Among those arrested are Bonangel Madel Nunez, known as La Negra, and Oscar Junior Navarro, alias El Mello – BBC reports.
The cartel sits firmly on the country’s top-4 list of criminal organizations.
Ace Related News:
1. BBC News – 31/05/2014 – http://tinyurl.com/mwwsexz
#AceWorldNews – COLUMBIA – May 21 – Colombia’s opposition presidential candidate has denied complicity in a hacking scandal that threatens progress he made in voter polls, and adds pressure on him to step down from Sunday’s race.
Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, who has narrowly overtaken incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos in polls, described a leaked video allegedly showing his involvement with a hacker who illegally attained military data as “manipulation” and “a montage.”
Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti reports.
#AceWorldNews – COLUMBIA – May 17 – The Colombian government and the FARC rebel group have agreed on a plan to deal with the South American country’s illegal drugs trade.
The deal is third in a six-point peace agreement being negotiated between the two sides in Cuba. FARC, which controls large areas of territory in rural Colombia, is believed to fund large amounts of its activity through the illegal drugs trade.
Last year, the Colombian government and the left-wing FARC group agreed to the first two points in the peace plan – land reform and political participation.
The details of Friday’s agreement will need to be discussed further by special commissions.
The peace talks were initiated by Colombian President Juan Manuel Carlos, who is seeking a second mandate in next week’s elections.
The civil war in Columbia has killed around 220,000 people over the past five decades.
#AceWorldNews – COLUMBIA – May 16 – Colombia’s leftist FARC and ELN rebels on Friday declared a unilateral cease-fire from May 20 to May 28, Reuters said.
The period includes the May-25 presidential election, and the guerrillas and the government continued work toward a comprehensive peace plan in negotiations in Havana.
“We are ordering all of our units to cease any offensive military action against the armed forces or the economic infrastructure as of 0000 hours on Tuesday, May 20, until 2400 hours on Wednesday, May 28,” rebel leader, Pablo Catabumbo, said in Havana.
#AceWorldNews – EUROPEAN UNION – May 06 – The EU has reportedly lifted visa requirements for 19 countries from the Pacific, Caribbean, Middle East and Latin America.
The EU Council adopted a regulation to exempt from visa requirements when travelling to the Schengen zone nationals from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Peru, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, the United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.
The decision prompted frustration in Turkey, which has been waiting for years to acquire the right to visa-free travel, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
#AceNewsServices – COLUMBIA – May 01 – At least three people were killed and 25 others are still trapped after an illegal gold mine collapsed in Santander de Quilichao, a city in the south-western Colombian province of Cauca, Agencia EFE cited emergency services officials as saying.
The collapse occurred in a rural district off San Antonio Road, fire chief Victor Claros told reporters, adding that victims’ bodies have been removed from the site.
The media has dubbed illegal gold mining as the “new cocaine” of Latin America, as the Andean countries – including Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Brazil – are generating higher profits from it than from drug trafficking.
Illegal mining has become the “new cocaine” of Latin America in terms of illicit trading, as countries such as Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia, are said to be obtaining higher profits from the unlicensed activity than from drug trafficking. The ecological damage is even greater.
According to Chilean newspaper El Mercurio (in Spanish), the shady business in the Amazonian jungle of Peru is already generating 15% more profits than the country’s total estimated drug trafficking. The figure is shocking, as Peru is said to already be the world’s largest exporter of cocaine.
The latest study published by Peru’s government last month, revealed that illicit gold extraction has led to violence, pollution and the destruction of parts of the country’s precious rainforest— more than 50,000 hectares so far. The figure is significantly higher than the 18,000 ha authorities estimated last year.
What it’s worse, unlawful mining has spread to surrounding countries such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia, which is intensifying the damage on the Amazon, as well in water sources, reports El Mercurio.
#AceWorldNews- BERLIN – April 25 – Packets of the drug turned up in seven banana crates in five stores. Police said it was the second biggest cocaine find in Berlin of the last 35 years and was worth around €6 million.
On Tuesday Olaf Schremm from Berlin’s criminal investigation office said: “We are assuming that it was a logistical mistake by the criminals.”
The bananas came from Columbia on a shipment to Hamburg.
They were then transported to the Moabit area of Berlin where they were sent out to suppliers.
The banana shipment was originally bound for the UK via Rotterdam, but the cargo was six days late due to bad weather in the Atlantic and when it arrived in the Netherlands, the Dutch buyer no longer wanted the bananas.
It therefore sailed on to Hamburg.
But the crates containing the cocaine appeared to have been sent to Aldi by mistake.
Ace Related News:
#AceWorldNews says the opposition in Venezuela says their protests are about crime and inflation, but they haven’t come forward with any concrete proposals as to how to deal with these problems, Gregory Wilpert, founder and editor of VenezuelaAnalysis.com, told RT.
Wilpert says that the majority of the population are actually against the protests, because they completely disrupt their daily lives.
RT: President Maduro has called for a peace conference in an attempt to meet with the opposition and resolve the current protests. Why are members of the opposition refusing to sit down with the government?
Gregory Wilpert: Well, that’s a good question. I think the reason that they are refusing is because they don’t really seem to have very clear demands and they are very internally divided right now. That is they say the protests are about crime and inflation but they haven’t come forward at least with any concrete proposals as to how to deal with these problems. So it’s not very clear what they would even talk about even if they were to meet with the government.
RT: While the nation’s economy, crime rate and lack of basic food supplies prompted the protests, what is continuing to fuel the aggression?
GW: Well, I think it’s actually also a battle within the opposition for the upper hand, with certainly those issues – the inflation and the crime rate – but it has to recognize that there is a diminishing or very small group really that are blockading the streets and engaging in confrontations with the police. It’s really only a very small handful, according to some polls actually over 70 percent of the population is opposed to these protests because they are completely disrupting their daily lives, because of the street blockades that are going on in various parts of the country, mostly in the strongholds of the opposition actually.
RT: President Maduro and others have said that other countries have had a hand in supporting the opposition and perhaps even planning a coup. What would other nations seek to gain from the ousting of Maduro’s administration?
GW: Certainly the United States has opposed Maduro and Chavez for a very long time and so has the conservative government in Colombia. Both governments have in various ways been supporting paramilitaries going into Venezuela from Colombia. Also the US government [has been] supporting opposition groups with funding and with these public statements, for example, that the Secretary of State Kerry recently made, which essentially gave the opposition a shot in the arm, because he legitimated their protests even though it’s quite clear that most of the protesters are being violent and seeking confrontations with the police.
RT: Last week Maduro expelled three US diplomats from the country, to which Washington responded by ousting three Venezuelan representatives. What are the implications of this diplomatic dispute?
GW: I don’t think it could blow up into a larger diplomatic dispute. Both sides have said repeatedly that they do want to improve the relations and Maduro just proposed a new ambassador for Venezuela in the United States, so he is definitely interested in improving relations, but the US is actually the one that has said: “We need something to go slower, we need more positive steps,” without saying what those positive steps would be. So it seems more like that the US is less interested in positive relations than Venezuela at this moment, although of course one has to say that it was Venezuela that expelled the diplomats. But that was because they were found to have intervened and met with opposition groups.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
#AceWorldNews says after more than a decade of feeding the homeless in Columbia, South Carolina, one group’s tradition could be in danger of ending as the city begins enforcing rules to limit the gathering of large groups in public parks.
As of February 15, Columbia began requiring any group of 25 people or more to pay for and obtain a permit 15 days in advance if they wished to use the city’s parks for an event.
This requirement was extended even to non-profit groups and charities, though their fees would be smaller.
The problem for one of the most well-known groups that feeds the homeless, however, is that it does not even qualify as a charity.
For about 12 years, Food Not Bombs has been gathering in a Columbia park to share meals with those less fortunate.
That tradition is in jeopardy, according to organizer Judith Turnipseed, since the new policy would force the group to pay at least $120 per week in order to meet.
#AceWorldNews says that a federal judge ruled late Thursday that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. The state’s “marriage laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry,” the ruling states, according to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.
The “laws deny Plaintiffs their rights to due process and equal protection guaranteed under the 14th Amendment” of the US Constitution,” the judge wrote. Herring said the court has stayed the execution of the injunction pending an appeal. Prior to the ruling, 17 states, plus the District of Columbia, had legalized same-sex marriage in the US.