By Susan Falvella-Gerraty
WASHINGTON, D.C. — After a White House meeting between President George W. Bush and Colombian President Andres Pastrana last Thursday, the Colombian leader said he considered the IRA one of the global terrorist organizations that makes it harder to battle the narco-terrorists trying to take over his country.
“We are concerned,” Pastrana said of the IRA’s alleged involvement with the FARC
“We have captured three of them in Colombia. There is due process going forward,” he said, referring to the three Irishman detained in prison in Bogota since last August on suspicion of training FARC rebels in explosives and urban terrorist techniques.
The three, Martin McCauley, James Monaghan, and Niall Connolly, all have republican links.
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In a preview of the U.S. congressional hearings, set to take place here today, Wednesday, Pastrana said information about how the IRA introduced previously unused terrorist techniques in Colombia will be explored.
“It’s going to be very important,” he said referring to the House International Relations Committee hearing April 24, “because we will be able to show what happened in your country [Ireland], and how they have been involved in turning up the conflict in Colombia.”
Pastrana made his comments to reporters en route to his departure from his Oval Office meeting.
Pastrana was in Washington to lobby for a loosening of restrictions on how American military resources are used against the FARC and other rebels in Colombia. The U.S. has given more than $1 billion in support and a huge amount of military resources to assist against the war on drugs.
Colombia provides the overwhelming majority of cocaine and heroin to the United States. Bush is in favor of decreasing restrictions on U.S. aid, and of establishing a South American base for the U.S. war against global terrorism.
Before his arrival in Washington, Pastrana, writing in the Washington Post, equated his country’s battle with IRA operatives to the United State’s handling of Al-Queda detainees.