Colombia: Al Qaeda Caught Selling Passports


January 31, 2006: Crime continues to decline, especially kidnapping, leftist rebel groups and their drug cartel allies continue to take a beating, and the economy continues to rise at about 4.5 percent a year.

January 29, 2006: The army continues its relentless campaign against the leftist rebels, who are not organized for this kind of conflict. The better trained soldiers often catch the rebels off guard, and inflict casualties. This has made it harder for the rebels to recruit new fighters, or keep many of those it already has on the payroll.

January 27, 2006: A fake passport operation was busted, and 19 people arrested. The gang supplied fake Colombian passports to people from the Middle East. It was believed this was mainly to facilitate people smuggling, but police say they found al Qaeda connections as well. It cost about $20,000 to get a false passport.

In March, there will be a referendum, to decide whether there should be a swap of FARC prisoners for people that FARC has kidnapped. The country is divided on this subject.

January 25, 2006: FARC rebels continue to terrorize candidates for upcoming elections, trying to prevent the election of people in rural areas who oppose the rebel groups. This often ends up in the murder of candidates who refuse to back off.




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