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October 24, 2001

Update on Terror-Money Trail

State Dept's Reeker

Claims Ignorance

Tells Press he's "not aware" of

Miami Bank checks to Colombian AUC

U.S. 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 of Ambassador Anne Patterson 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 Department.)

Today, we publish two important updates on the story.

I. The 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.

II. 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 the transcript:

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 this investigation?

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 roundly.

QUESTION: Have you been following the people who are supporting paramilitaries from USA banks in the United States?

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 at White Collar Terrorism 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. But e-mail?

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 News:

Money Trail Revealed:

Colombian Terrorists

Funded from... Miami

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, 2001

Translated by The Narco News Bulletin

Various 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's office.

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.

Read Our Dossier on U.S.-created

Narco Paramilitary Boss Carlos Castaño

For more Narco News, click here

Follow the Money