Some 267 members of the Popular Revolutionary Anti-Terrorist Army of Colombia (ERPAC) surrendered in December, led by Jose Eberto Lopez, alias “Caracho.” Colombian officials were caught off guard, unprepared to process them legally, so the vast majority were released hours after they turned themselves in.
About 80 percent of them have since been recaptured, but most are facing charges no more serious than criminal conspiracy, which carries sentences between eight and 18 years, despite the fact that Caracho and his group could be responsible for 1,200 murders in three Colombian provinces. Because most have confessed to lesser crimes, their sentences could be halved.
On May 30, 43 members of the ERPAC were sentenced to four years and five months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 900 million pesos (about $500,000) each, after pleading guilty to criminal conspiracy. Other similar convictions are expected to follow.
When Caracho, who presented himself as the ERPAC’s top leader following the 2010 death of Pedro Oliverio Guerrero, alias “Cuchillo,” offered to demobilize with his men, he was seeking the same benefits that had been granted to paramilitary fighters under the Justice and Peace process. This offered suspended sentences, monthly stipends and vocational training to the rank and file. But the government of Juan Manuel Santos declared that its policy for the new illegal armed groups that emerged after the paramilitary demobilizations between 2003 and 2006, such as the ERPAC, was to deal with them solely through the courts, without offering any benefits for laying down their arms.
This means that many of the convicts, disgruntled by the lack of benefits, and who could actually be released from prison before serving their full sentences, with time off for good behavior and studies, may be prime candidates to return to the ranks of the remaining ERPAC factions.
In fact, the men who demobilized with Caracho apparently represent only a fraction of the total fighting force of the ERPAC. The remaining estimated 560 members have split into two groups: the Meta Bloc and Libertadores de Vichada, according to a report by the International Crisis Group (see pdf, below).
The Meta Bloc, according to the report, is led by Rubber Antonio Navarro Caicedo, who goes by the alias “Flaco Fredy” and operates mainly in the Ariari area of Meta province. The Libertadores del Vichada, which operates in Cumaribo, Vichada and parts of northern Meta along the border to Casanare, is led by Martin Farfan, alias Pijarbey, who was Cuchillo’s second-in-command until his capture in 2009. Pijarbey served three years of his four-year sentence before returning to the Llanos at the beginning of this year to take up leadership of the ERPAC faction.
by Florian Flade
New Abu Yahya al-Libi video announced
While Western media and numerous news agencies are citing U.S. intelligence sources saying a recent CIA drone strike in North Waziristan killed Al-Qaida commander Abu Yahya al-Libi, there is no word from the Jihadi side yet on wether these claims are true or not.
Yesterday there was an announcement released on several major Jihadi Internet forums indicating Abu Yahya was in fact not killed and is still roaming the mountains of the Pakistani tribal area.
“Glad Tidings: New As-Sahab Video of Abu Yahya al-Libi (may Allah protect him) will be released soon” – the forums post reads.
Does this announcement made by a forum member mean the Al-Qaida commander survived the U.S. drone attack or was in fact never in the house that was hit by the missiles? No, it does not. In the past Online Jihadis have reacted in a similar way when a prominent Al-Qaida figure was killed. Within the intelligence community there is a saying: “First they deny it, then they mourn it, then they celebrate it, then they call for revenge”.
The U.S. government is offering $33 million for information leading to the capture of seven of Somali al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab‘s top leaders, including $7 million for founder Ahmed Abdi aw-Mohamed, also known as Abu Zubeir or Godane, and $5 million apiece for Mukhtar Robow (left) and Mohamed Khalaf. (Rewards for Justice)
By MOHAMED IBRAHIM
June 9, 2012
The Somali government and Somali observers say the new $33 million U.S. bounty on the heads of seven al Shabaab leaders may be just what is needed to help crush the al Qaeda affiliate, which is already reeling from military assaults on all sides and from the air.
“The announcement from the U.S. government . . . will certainly help the Somali government’s efforts to end al Qaeda’s reign of terror in Somalia,” said Somalia’s transitional government in a statement Thursday. “This is an important juncture in Somali history, where the possibility of full recovery from years of chaos is within reach.”
Through its Rewards for Justice program, the State Department this week offered $7 million for information leading to the capture of al-Shabaab founder and commander Ahmed Abdi Aw-Mohamed, AKA Godane or Mukhtar Abu Zubeir, $5 million apiece for four other Shabaab leaders and $3 million a head for two more. By comparison, the U.S. had offered only $1 million for Abu Yahya al-Libi, who was killed in a U.S. strike in Pakistan on Monday and was described by U.S. officials as a bin Laden confidante al Qaeda’s second-in-command.
Officials Watch for Body Bombs on Planes Watch Video