October 24, 2001
on Terror-Money Trail
Press he's "not aware" of
Bank checks to Colombian AUC
Bank Identified: It's Barnett Bank
Narco News 2001
Narco News Commentary
and Update: More than
$2 billion U.S. dollars pumped into Plan Colombia so far, plus
an extensive "intelligence" apparatus, CIA, Pentagon
and corporate mercenary presence in the country, and the location
in Bogotá, still has not brought the news from page one
of Colombia's largest daily newspaper to the U.S. Department
of State - or so deputy spokesman Philip T. Reeker claimed this
week during a State Dept. Press Briefing.
(The State Department
press office, like numerous other governmental agencies, also
subscribes to Narco News' free
mailing list, which
informed, in English, on October 18th (see original article below)
that Miami bank checks were discovered in a hideout of the vicious
Colombian paramilitary group - the United Self-Defense Forces
of Colombia, or AUC in its Spanish acronym. This group has been
defined as a "terrorist organization" by the same State
Today, we publish two
important updates on the story.
Bank Has Been Identified
The Colombian press -- the daily El Tiempo, on Saturday,
October 20th - has now reported the identity of the United States
banking institution whose checks funded the AUC - defined by
the U.S. government as a "terrorist organization."
The bank was Barnett Bank, and the checks were reportedly cut
in 1995, before Barnett was purchased by NationsBank in 1998.
Consistent with financial
analyst Catherine Austin Fitts' primer on Narco Dollars for Dummies published today on Narco News
and the influence of narco-capital in U.S. banking and financial
institutions, the reported use of Barnett Bank checks to fund
the paramilitaries in 1995 coincided with the bank's financial
rebound that preceded its sale.
Jacksonville Magazine reported on Barnett Bank's rise,
fall, rise and sale in October of 1998, stating: "The real
estate collapse of the early 1990s derailed the company's 14-year
string of continuous earnings increases. But by the mid-1990s,
earnings had rebounded to record levels."
This was precisely the
time that the bank's checks were funding the terrorist AUC.
State's Reeker Claims Ignorance
Yet, four days after the Colombian press reported, and
the State Department received the story, via our email list,
State Department Deputy Spokesman Philip T. Reeker, asked by
a reporter about the involvement of a U.S. bank in funding Colombian
paramilitaries, claimed he had no knowledge of the story.
The October 22nd Press
Briefing by Reeker is archived on the State Department website. The following is an excerpt from
QUESTION: I have one other question, I'm
sorry. Colombian army found a secret document which belonged
to the AUC. That document contained a list of names. These are
men who are supporting AUC. Actually, the document shows that
people supporting paramilitaries have been sending checks from
USA, US banks. So is the USA helping Colombian authorities in
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of that specific
document or that specific thing. I am aware that, on September
the 10th, we formally designated the AUC as a terrorist organization
under our law. So it now appears on the list and we spoke about
that at some length on September the 10th. So that joins the
other two organizations that had been previously designated and
have since been re-designated as foreign terrorist organizations
in Colombia .
I know that we have a
counter-terrorism dialogue in terms of part of our relationship
with Colombia . I don't have anything specific for you on that.
I wasn't even aware of
those reports. But just the other day, I issued a statement condemning
a terrorist action taken by the AUC in terms of murdering a number
of civilians, innocent civilians, and we condemned that most
QUESTION: Have you been following the people
who are supporting paramilitaries from USA banks in the United
MR. REEKER: I think I just indicated that
I don't have any information on the reports you are talking about.
Once again, Washington
looks the other way
within the U.S. financial system - the real power behind the
Colombian paramilitaries, narco-traffickers, and the destabilization
of democracy throughout Our América.
Either the billions budgeted
for espionage and Plan Colombia is misspent so ineptly that a
page one report in Colombia's largest daily, El Tiempo,
and a follow-up translation of that report sent directly to the
State Department (which subscribed, as all citizens and agencies
are welcome to do, to the Narco News mailing list; so that all
can make educated decisions based on the facts often evaded by
the commercial U.S. media), goes unnoticed, or Mr. Reeker is
not telling the truth during his press briefings.
We can understand why
they might not be opening snail mail in Washington these days.
When Mr. Reeker opens
his mouth, we advise: Caveat Emptor, or, buyer beware.
The following is our original
story published last week....
Published on October
18th by Narco
Narco News Commentary: The
search for foreign scapegoats in the "war on terrorism,"
when the money trail is followed, keeps turning back to the United
States banks and financial institutions. Yesterday, the daily
El Tiempo of Bogotá, Colombia, reported that 20
checks were found at a paramilitary headquarters, and were used
to buy arms and uniforms by the right-wing narco-terror group
of Carlos Castaño and Salvatore Mancuso. The financial
support for the group's massacres of civilians came from... the
United States, specifically, through a bank or banks in Miami.
This underscores our point
made in a Narco
News editorial this week on White Collar Terrorists: We can point the finger abroad,
but until United States banks and financial institutions are
included in the search for guilty parties, future terrorist acts
will continue, and inevitably include U.S. soil. Narco News
is investigating which Miami bank or banks were used to fund
the AUC, and will report any evidence that we find.
From the daily El Tiempo, October 17,
Translated by The Narco
checks found in a rural residence of
Calima-Darién, presumably the property of groups of the
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) that operate in
the mid-Valley region, were delivered to the regional Attorney
General Francisco René Pedraza,
commander of the Third Brigade of the armed forces, said that
the documents and checks lead to a presumption that the AUC is
funded by foreign bank accounts. "In this case, it is a
checking account in Miami, from where checks have been drawn,
it seems, to be used to buy arms and uniforms," he explained.
The checks, valuing 2 billion pesos were
found last Saturday by army officials in an operation that captured
six persons said to be paramilitaries who participated in the
massacre of 24 people on October 10th in the rural region of
Buga. The men arrested are: Eurideses Urango, Donaldo Rivera
Muñoz, Edilberto Berrío Torres, Luis Córdoba
Palacios, Javier Antonio Contreras and Idelfonso Gutiérrez.
The men were found with rifles, grenades,
AUC bracelets and the checks from accounts in U.S. banks.
The attorney general began the investigation
of 20 checks paid to different individuals in the Valley through
an open account in Miami in 1995. The checks appear to average
between $3,000 and $5000 U.S. dollars apiece.
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