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3 African men flown to U.S. for trial linked to terrorism, drugs

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
  • Authorities say Mali men conspired to to provide material support to foreign terrorist group
  • Suspects will appear Friday in federal court in New York, DEA says
  • Documents reveal DEA sting with agents claiming to have ties to Colombia guerilla army
  • Alleged plot involved Africa-to-Europe cocaine shipment, with terror group aiding trafficking

Washington (CNN) -- Three African men suspected of ties to al Qaeda in North Africa have been arrested in Ghana and flown to New York to face charges that they engaged in drug trafficking and supported terrorism, federal officials said Friday.

The three Mali natives will stand trial for an alleged drug conspiracy and conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, authorities said.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, which announced the criminal complaint, said the suspects will appear Friday in federal court in New York.

Court documents released in Washington reveal a DEA undercover operation that included agents claiming to have ties to FARC, the guerilla army in Colombia that the United States has designated as a terrorist organization.

The alleged plot involved shipment of cocaine from Africa to Europe, with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb helping facilitate the trafficking.

The suspects are identified as Oumar Issa, Idriss Abdelrahman and Harouna Toure.

Authorities said the apparent ties between the suspected African terror group members and the cocaine traffickers appear to represent an increasingly global effort to use the drug trade to support terrorism. While such a relationship is long-standing in Afghanistan, it has not been common in Africa, officials said.