- The Washington Times - Monday, June 4, 2007

Guyana shocked

The small nation of Guyana was “astounded” to find itself thrust into international news at the center of a suspected terrorist plot that targeted New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to the country’s former ambassador to the United States.

With three Guyanese men accused in planning the attack, “this plot … is quite an embarrassment for our small nation,” Ambassador Odeen Ishmael said in an e-mail to Embassy Row. “The whole of Guyana is astounded over this development.”

The arrest of Abdul Kadir, a former member of parliament, further shocked the South American nation of about 700,000, said Mr. Ishmael, now ambassador to Venezuela. He said Mr. Kadir is a member of the Shi’ite Muslim sect, a tiny minority of the nation’s Islamic community, which makes up about 10 percent of the population.

“This Shia group is extremely small and probably has fewer than 50 adherents in the entire country,” Mr. Ishmael said. “I should also add that Guyanese on the whole, no matter what religions they profess, subscribe to Western values and abhor terrorism and those who perpetrate it.”

About 50 percent of the population is Christian, while Hindus make up about 35 percent.

Mr. Kadir was a leading member of the opposition People’s National Congress until August and also served as mayor of Linden, the country’s second-largest city and home to the most of the Shi’ite population, Mr. Ishmael said.

Mr. Kadir was traveling to Iran when he was arrested Friday morning on a stopover flight to Trinidad. He was scheduled to fly to Venezuela on Friday to pick up a visa at the Iranian Embassy in the capital, Caracas, and board a plane to Tehran.

Mr. Ishmael said police in Guyana and Trinidad worked closely with the FBI to stop the plot. Trinidad police also arrested a Trinidad native, Kareem Ibraham. Police in New York charged Russell Defreitas, a Guyanese-born Brooklyn resident, while a third Guyanese, Abdel Nur, is still at large.

Drug kingpins

The U.S. ambassador to Mexico heralded the targeting of five suspected drug lords as a major step in the war against illegal narcotics, of which massive amounts of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines are smuggled into the United States.

“The Gulf Cartel is responsible for more violence and corruption — and has destroyed the lives of more ordinary Mexicans — than any other narcotics trafficking organization operating here,” Ambassador Antonio O. Garza Jr. said on the U.S. Embassy’s Web site (http://mexico.usembassy.gov).

President Bush on Friday listed the suspects under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, which allows the United States to freeze their banking transactions and deny them access to U.S. financial institutions. Mr. Bush also placed the Gulf Cartel under the act’s restrictions.

Victor Emilio Cazarez Salazar of Mexico, Jorge Mario Paredes Cordova of Guatemala, Haj Azizullah Alizai of Afghanistan, Shahbaz Khan of Pakistan and Frederik Heinz Barth of Germany were added to the list.

Mr. Cazarez “leads a sophisticated drug-trafficking network based in Culiacan,” Mexico, and Mr. Paredes Cordova “controls a major cocaine-trafficking syndicate, which operates in Guatemala and Mexico,” the ambassador said, adding that U.S. federal courts have indicted both men on drug charges.

Mexico last week also extradited three fugitives, including one accused of murder, Mr. Garza added.

Fabian Urrea is charged with killing Jorge Estrada, an Iraq war veteran, in 2005 in California. Isaias Martinez Reyes is wanted in Seattle on a charge of raping a 10-year-old girl, and Ismael Terrazas Torres was serving a 151-month sentence when he escaped from a federal prison in Texas in 1989.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail. jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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