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These stories first were published Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2001
'War on terrorism'
will have impact 
here in Costa Rica

By Jay Brodell
A.M. Costa Rica editor

The worldwide fight against terrorism is likely to have far-reaching impacts in Costa Rica.

U.S. Bush Administration officials already have promised to fight terrorism in the Western Hemisphere "with all the elements of our national power," and they have identified four terrorist groups in Latin America, three of them in Colombia.

U.S. administration officials also have equated narcotics trafficking with terrorism, saying that a "nexus" exists between terrorism and organized crime.

Francis Taylor, coordinator for counterterrorism at the U.S. Department of State, told the U.S. Congress two


Analysis on the news


weeks ago that the Western Hemisphere "is no stranger to terrorism." 

The U.S. sponsored $1.3 billion Plan Colombia was well under way before the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York City and Washington, but not everyone in Washington considers the plan effective and some labeled the situation there a "catastrophe." The plan targets drug production and seeks to reequip the Colombian military.

The bottom line of all these maneuverings is that the "war on terrorism" will be used to further U.S. motives in the fight against drug trafficking and money laundering. The extensive narcotics money-laundering networks, well rooted in Costa Rica as well as elsewhere, are under attack as countries tighten their regulations ostensibly to deprive Osama bin Laden of funds.

But the bin Laden laws will be on the books and enforced long after bin Laden is no longer a threat.

The Bush Administration has been reluctant to treat terrorism as a tactic. Rather they have labeled all who use terrorism to be an enemy and placed such persons and groups on the same level with bin Laden. The U.S. Administration also have promised a protracted, lengthy battle against terrorists. Some administration officials have said the "war on terrorism" might never end.

Such wars have a way of continuing even as the enemies change. When bin Laden no longer is a factor, the weight of the coalition anti-terrorism war is likely to fall on the drug and money-laundering networks throughout Latin America, not to mention the actual fighters in the field in Colombia and points south.

Already Costa Rica is getting additional intelligence help in rolling up drug networks and drug supply lines. More emphasis is placed today on stopping the drug flow into the United States because investigators believe that some of the money generated that way flows back to Middle East terrorists.

Although no terrorist groups have been acknowledged publicly in Costa Rica, the country does play a role in international weapons and money transfers. And it is exactly these activities that will draw the attention of international anti-terrorist efforts.

Expect more scrutiny of banking and other financial transactions, more scrutiny of investments and a stronger U.S. military presence in support of anti-drug efforts.
Money laundering targeted

The U.S. government outlines its strategy to find international financing of terrorism.

See Below

For him, it's better
to receive than give

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Nigerian scam has a blessing for you. 

The latest transmutation of this scam to reach Costa Rica is purportedly from a preacher in Togo who happens to have a trunk in storage with about $30 million contained therein.

If you will pay the unstated storage charges, the preacher just wants a tiny bit for his ministry, and the rest is yours, the scamster said in an e-mail to a Costa Rican business Monday.

". . . my ministry is the apocalypse, and I believe and preach the soon coming of the Lord, which make me not indulgent in reliance on money or wealth in any form," said the scamster who identified himself as Patrick Udo of the Seed Harvest Ministry.

He said he came into possession of the trunk to hold in safekeeping for three Nigerian solders who since died or are missing in the Liberian civil war.

In case the Apocalypse is delayed, Rev. Udo suggests that you use the bulk of the money for charity or something universally profitable.  Just send him the storage charges.

This, the so-called Nigerian Scam or the Nigerian advanced fee scam or the 4-1-9 scam (based on a section of the Nigerian penal code), the offer of instant wealth has been around for a long time. The Internet simply has given the scamsters a technological advantage over the letter and telephone call that had been used in the past.

In September, Costa Rican residents got a message from Rasheed Bello, a self-described corrupt Nigerian government official. He had a pile of illicit cash and needed your help to spirit it out of his country.  Also in September, one John Peters, a crooked engineer had the bribe money for an African construction project stashed in Switzerland, ready for nearly instant delivery.

Those who are taken in by the scam sometimes travel to Nigeria or other African countries where they are held hostage or, in one case, killed. Although Nigerian officials deny any complicity in the scams, the conmen frequently use real government offices and telephone lines, according to those who track the scams.

The U.S. Secret Service is anxious to know about scam letters such as this and has set up a special e-mail address to receive information from people who may have received such messages:  419.fcd@usss.treas.gov.
 


 

Cab driver

killed by trio

who hailed him

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 30-year-old pirate cab driver picked up the wrong three men about 7:30 Sunday night. 

The cabby, Mauricio Ulate Jiménez, took the trio to Barrio Altamira in Desamparados in San José where they shot and killed him and took his cab, according to investigators.

The vehicle, a white Hyundai Accent, still was missing Monday night, and police were asked for tips to be telephoned to 295-3372 or 295-3373. The vehicle is distinctive in having polarized windows and the word "raptor" written on the rear window.

A pirate taxi driver is one who has not gotten the official paperwork to run the car as a taxi. Frequently they work part-time to earn extra money for their families. 


 
U.S. has triple strategy to fight money laundering
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The U.S. government must work closely with the private sector and international partners to "break the financial backbone of terrorist groups and their financiers," a senior Treasury Department official said Monday.

In a speech to the American Bankers Association, Jimmy Gurule, Treasury under secretary for enforcement, outlined the U.S. strategy to fight terrorism financing as a composite of foreign terrorist asset tracking, public-private partnership and international cooperation.

Gurule said that the interagency foreign asset tracking center, a clearinghouse for information from multiple federal law enforcement, public, and intelligence sources, has been working to identify, 

disrupt and dismantle complex financial terrorist networks.

But terrorists and money launderers are constantly seeking new, creative ways to move money around the world, warned Gurule, so the success of a battle against them will also depend on a partnership between government and the financial industry.

Gurule also said the United States has been working closely with 144 countries to achieve concrete results in finding and freezing terrorist funds.

"We are at war against a faceless enemy that uses money to wreak havoc and pain on innocent civilians," Gurule said. "It is only in unison and with innovative new strategies that we can stamp out the scourge of terrorism." 

Death of two postal workers blamed on anthrax
By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge says the deaths of two Washington postal workers reported Monday were probably caused by anthrax. 

Tests to make a final determination on the cause of the deaths are still pending. But officials say the two postal workers suffered from symptoms consistent with inhalation anthrax before dying.

Commenting on the latest cases of the deadly disease, Ridge said Monday that the United States is in a war against terrorism on two fronts at home and overseas. And he says public service employees have suffered casualties like those suffered by people in military uniforms. Ridge vowed that mail will continue to be delivered in the United States despite the anthrax attacks and that the U.S. government will take every step to ensure mail is safe.

Two other Washington postal employees are being treated with antibiotics after being diagnosed with inhalation anthrax. One of the two was said to be in stable but serious condition on Sunday. The other case was reported Monday. The four postal employees worked at Washington's Brentwood mail processing facility.

U.S. Postmaster General John Potter says new technology will soon be installed to, in his words, "sanitize" mail that goes through the U.S. system. He also lamented the death of the two postal employees, saying U.S. mail and postal employees have become the target of terrorists.

Washington's Chief Health Officer Dr. Ivan Walks says nine other postal workers in the area are being monitored for possible symptoms of exposure to anthrax spores.

The U.S. Postal Service has closed Washington's two mail-handling facilities, including Brentwood, and more than 2,000 Washington area postal workers are undergoing treatment regimen to ward off the bacterial disease.

Meanwhile, U.S. Congressional staff buildings will remain closed Tuesday pending the results of 

anthrax tests there following the opening of an anthrax-laden letter in a Senate office last week. The U.S. Capitol Building will be open and a session of U.S. lawmakers is scheduled to take place there.

In another development Monday, small traces of anthrax were found in the office of CBS anchorman Dan Rather. An assistant who opens his mail is one of six people in the New York City area who has contracted skin anthrax which is highly treatable in recent weeks. Two other victims are postal workers from New Jersey.

Since Oct. 1, four people in the United States have been diagnosed with the potentially lethal inhalation anthrax. One, a Florida tabloid newspaper employee, died earlier this month.

Warplanes hit Afghani targets

U.S. warplanes have again struck targets in Afghanistan near Taliban front lines north of Kabul. 

Sunday's late afternoon attacks appeared to be aimed at Taliban soldiers facing forces of the opposition Northern Alliance. U.S. planes also flew over the Afghan capital again late Sunday, but no bomb explosions were heard. 

The ruling Taliban says attacks on Kabul earlier Sunday killed 18 people. That claim has not been independently confirmed, and U.S. officials have not commented on it. 

In northern Afghanistan, Northern Alliance representatives say a small group of Americans are on the ground with opposition forces near the key northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. The group of at least six Americans is working with forces of opposition Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, reportedly to collect information about Taliban targets that could be hit in future air attacks. 

The Taliban cabinet met Sunday. It announced afterward that it plans to distribute heavy weapons across Afghanistan to enable towns and villages to defend themselves. The Taliban also appealed to Islamic countries to send relief supplies for survivors and victims of the U.S.-led attacks. 

Venezuela Stampede 
Leaves 11 Dead 

VALENCIA , Venezuela Authorities say a stampede at an annual festival here left at least 11 people dead and 25 injured. Police say the stampede occurred after authorities fired a shot into the air as thousands of people lined up to enter the International Festival of Valencia.

Authorities say they were trying to disperse the crowd, which was becoming restless after hours of waiting. The festival was being held to honor Venezuelan television stars. 
 

Sinn Fein admits link
to man nabbed in Colombia

The leader of the Sinn Fein party, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, has publicly admitted that Niall Connolly, who was arrested in Colombia in August on terrorism charges, was the Irish movement's designated representative in Cuba. 

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams told reporters the appointment of Connolly as the movement's representative in Cuba had been made without his knowledge or the authorization of his party's international department. 

Sinn Fein and IRA sources previously denied the link, even though the Cuban Foreign Ministry identified Connolly as the Sinn Fein representative in Havana. 

Connolly and two other men remain in jail in Colombia, facing trial for passport fraud and training members of the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. 

Meanwhile, the Dublin newspaper The Irish Times has reported that a key Colombian witness in the case, a former local police inspector, has disappeared after leaving a witness protection program. The name of the Colombian witness was not disclosed. 
 

Marathon raises cash 
for victims of terrorism

Tens of thousands of music fans gathered in Washington Sunday for a marathon concert of pop stars to raise money for victims of last month's terrorist attacks.

The "United We Stand" concert in Washington raised about $2 million from the sale of more than 43,000 tickets.

The eight-hour concert began with the Backstreet Boys singing the national anthem. Other participants included Michael Jackson, Ricky Martin, James Brown, and Aerosmith.

Another benefit Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee, featured country music stars Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw and Sara Evans. A similar benefit concert took place in New York City on Saturday. 

Six-thousand police officers, firefighters, and rescue and aid workers were given the best seats for the concert at New York's Madison Square Garden.
 

Face factors seminar topic

English-speakers are being offered a chance to spiff up their face at a medical seminar Dec. 6.

The event is sponsored by medical providers under the auspice of the Association of Residents of Costa Rica.

"Non-surgical face rejuvenation," is how Dr. Luis da Cruz dos Santos of Clinica Biblica described the session. He, the clinic and Suplimedica will host the seminar at Santa Teresita Church in Aranjuez, San José, beginning at 2 p.m.

"We will talk about the face aging process, non-surgical options for aesthetic treatments, eyelid procedures without scars, external ultrasound-assisted liposculpture, breast lifting and other innovative aesthetics procedures," he said in an announcement. The seminar will be in English.

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