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Wednesday, April 29, 2009
By Steven L. Taylor

The AP reports: Colombian woman arraigned on terror charges. I initially assumed that she was facing drug charges, but the story notes she was charged with “supporting leftist rebels in her native country” which stuck me as vague. The El Tiempo write-up (Cargos contra colombiana por apoyar a las Farc presentó un tribunal federal de Washington) wasn’t all that more informative.

The DOJ press release on the arraignment is a more detailed:#09-399: Colombian National Arraigned on Charges of Providing Material Support to the FARC (2009-04-27)

A 32-year-old Colombian citizen, Luz Mery Gutierrez Vergara, who was extradited from the Republic of Colombia on Thursday, made her initial appearance today in federal court in Washington, D.C., to face charges for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to provide material support to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, commonly known as the “FARC,”

[...]

In September of 2007, a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia indicted Gutierrez Vergara, along with a number of her co-conspirators, on two counts: conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization and providing material support or resources to a terrorist organization. The indictment alleges that Gutierrez Vergara was involved in a conspiracy to assist the FARC by establishing and personally serving in a logistical support and supply network designed to procure weapons, ammunition, high technology devices, money, and other materials and supplies, and to transport and deliver these and other commodities, including hostages, to and among the FARC.

Now, I can understand the legal and policy justification of the US government’s interest in Gutiérrez if she was involved in the drug trade or if she had been involved in the kidnapping of the three Americans contractors who were freed with Ingrid Betancur or somehow involved with direct harm to other Americans. However, it strikes me as odd that the US government appears to have sought the extradition of this woman for the general crime of being in a foreign terrorist organization, since it would appear that the crimes in question were directed at the Colombian state, not the United States in any direct way (or really, any indirect way). There is also an interesting discussion here to be had about why the Colombian government would want to extradite her (my, but times have changed since the 1990s).

The DOJ and the US prison system is going to be extremely busy if they are going to get into the business of collecting citizens of other countries and trying them for crimes committed in those other countries. It adds a whole new meaning to the notion of “the world’s policeman.” Is it now the case that all terrorists around the globe are currently in violation of US law? (I simply am not familiar with the statutes in question).

I would note, it is entirely likely that this is more common than I am aware, but it sounds very much like a post-9/11 manifestation of US policy. Further, in the case of Colombia I have tended to pay a great deal of attention to the extradition issue for going on two decades, and I can’t recall another case in which the charges weren’t a more straight-forward issue of direct harm to the US. Indeed, I am pretty sure that they have always been drug related.

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2 Responses to “FARC Member Extradicted to US to Face Terrorism Charges”

  1. Max Lybbert Says:

    I’m not too surprised. The concept of one version of the Bush Doctrine is to stamp out terrorism everywhere ( http://www.ornery.org/essays/warwatch/2004-09-05-1.html ). Although I think this is more related to Colombia’s cooperation in the war on drugs.

    I am surprised that a Colombian is being extradited from Colombia. I understood that the US had a policy to not extradite people from their home country, and to not extradite US citizens from the US to other countries.

  2. Steven L. Taylor Says:

    The US is more than happy to use extradition as a tool of policy. And yes, there is little doubt that the underlying rationale for Colombia is the war on drugs.


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