Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Coulmbia's Farc merges with Jihadists to strike via Central America's Land Bridge to America's Southern Border

I have found an article that lends further credence to Hugh Hewitt and Todd Bensman's concerns over the porous nature of our Borders with Mexico and South America because Jihadist have infiltrated those lawless areas and merged with local Crime Syndicates.  Another troubling sign is that Islam is one of the fastest growing religions via converts in South America. 
Colombian authorities claim to have dismantled an extensive counterfeit passport ring in January 2006 that allegedly supplied an unknown number of Pakistanis, Egyptians, Jordanians, Iraqis, and others purported to be working with al-Qaeda with Colombian, Portuguese, German, and Spanish citizenship, enabling them to travel freely in the United States and Europe. Bogota also mentioned that the network had ties to Hamas militants
Maicao Columbia is close to the Border with Panama and provides a Land Bridge to America via Central America(see map below).

Although accurate demographic measures are hard to come by, the municipality of Maicao, in northeastern Colombia in the department of La Guajira, an indigenous reserve located along the border with Venezuela and the Caribbean, is home to Colombia's largest Muslim community. Maicao's Muslim population is believed to number anywhere between 4,000 to 8,000 adherents. Maicao is also home of the Omar Ibn al-Khattab Mosque, which was completed in 1987. It is Colombia's largest mosque and is counted as one of the largest in South America (Latino Muslim Voice, December 2003).

Most of Maicao's Muslims are Sunni Arabs from the Levant, especially Lebanon, while a minority originates from Syria and Palestine. Maicao is also home to a small Shiite Arab population. The region's Arab community lives alongside the Way'uu, an indigenous group. As a result of its position on the coast, La Guajira has always lured immigrants seeking potentially lucrative trade opportunities and jobs, especially migrants from the Middle East.

Maicao is also a free trade zone (FTZ) and a known center of smuggling of counterfeit goods such as cigarettes and electric appliances, arms, and narcotics, money laundering, and other illicit forms of commerce to Venezuela, Central America, and the Caribbean. According to some reports, recent efforts by Bogota to enforce tax codes and root out corruption and smuggling hit Maicao's merchants particularly hard, especially Arab Muslims who figure prominently in the local economy. This includes merchants engaged in both legal and illegal business. As a result, Maicao's Arab Muslim population is said to be dwindling, as local merchants seek out opportunities elsewhere in Colombia and in the region (Los Cromos, April 1, 2005).

Many observers worry that al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations can exploit Maicao and the Colombian island of San Andres, another FTZ located off the coast of Panama, to raise funds to finance operations. San Andres is also home to a sizeable Arab Muslim and Christian community. FTZs in Colon, Panama, Iquique, Chile, Margarita Island, Venezuela, and elsewhere in the region are frequently cited as potential terrorist finance centers.


The Mosque of Omar Ibn Al-Khattab (or in Spanish transcription Omar Iban Al-Jattab) in Maicao, La Guajira, Colombia is the second biggest mosque in Latin America. To the locals it is simply known as "la Mezquita" ("The Mosque") for being the only one in the region, and along with the Dar Alarkan School, they are the centers of Islamic faith of the region. Constructed on September of 1997 and named after the second Sunni caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khatta....
Islam in Colombia

Colombia is home to a small, albeit diverse, Muslim population. Most Colombian Muslims are of Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian origin, but Arab Christians from the Levant with a long history in the country dating back to the Ottoman era far outnumber their Muslim counterparts. In contrast, unlike elsewhere in the region, Arab Muslims made their presence felt in Colombia beginning in the late 1960s and 70s after a wave of migration from the Middle East that was prompted by the Lebanese Civil War and other regional tensions (Los Cromos, April 1, 2005).

Recent Muslim migrants from the Middle East tend to be more pious and traditional compared to their second and third generation kin who have become assimilated into Colombian society. For example, many still speak Arabic and live in tight-knit communities, not unlike immigrant communities elsewhere. Demographic assessments on Colombia's Muslim population vary. According to some local reports, Colombia's Muslim population numbers approximately 15,000 adherents (, January 4, 2005).

As a result of intermarriage and religious conversion, Islam has become one of the fastest growing faiths in Colombia and Latin America. Growing disenchantment with the Roman Catholic Church establishment in Colombia and elsewhere in the region has also led many to seek spiritual guidance elsewhere. Many former Roman Catholics that have strayed from the Church have come to see Catholicism as a European colonial tradition that was imposed on the peoples of the Americas. Therefore, conversion to Islam represents an assertion of ethno-national, as well as spiritual, identity. Protestant missionaries have been making inroads into Latin America for many of the same reasons for decades, especially among underserved communities and indigenous populations.

Colombian Christians who become Muslims find solace in Islam's reverence of Jesus Christ and Mary. Other Muslim converts see Islam as a native tradition untainted by the region's colonial experience. Many Muslims in Colombia also emphasize what they believe are their natural cultural and even ethnic links with Arabs and Muslims, stemming from Spain's Moorish heritage. In this regard, conversion to Islam symbolizes a reversion to their original state, which they see as having been suppressed by colonialism. There is also evidence suggesting that Colombian Muslims are becoming more open about asserting their identity, especially since Bogota abolished Catholicism as the official state religion in an effort to promote a broader definition of Colombian identity.

Many analysts are alarmed by increasing Muslim conversion trends, which they interpret as a sign of radicalization, especially in light of al-Qaeda's proven successes in luring Muslim converts to their cause.

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