Dino Bouterse now also charged with terrorism

PARAMARIBO--A third charge of "attempting to support a terrorist organisation" has been added to the indictment of arrested President's son Dino Bouterse. Manhattan District Attorney Preet Bharara alleged yesterday that Dino, who is being held on cocaine and weapons-trafficking charges, was planning to help Hezbollah attack the US.
If found guilty of the terrorism charge, the President's son could face 15 years in prison, which could come on top of a mandatory minimum term of 40 years to live in prison that the cocaine and weapons charges carry. Dino's additional international troubles are likely to further aggravate the issues his father Desi is facing on a local level; the president narrowly survived a motion against his government on Thursday.
Dino was arrested in Panama on August 29, handed over to US authorities and has been in a jail in Manhattan, New York, since. The arrest had obviously been prepared in all secrecy by US authorities, who at first characterised the 41-year-old as a dangerous, seasoned narcotics trafficker, who as recently as last July had shipped 10 kilograms of coke from Suriname though the Caribbean into the US. The younger Bouterse apparently carried a gun, brandished other firearms and on one occasion even a rocket-powered light anti-tank weapon during his drug dealings. Fellow Surinamese national Edmund Muntslag (29) was arrested on the same indictment in Trinidad and Tobago, where he remains in custody. While it had been clear from the start that the President's notorious son was still facing a lengthy sentence in an American jail, the news that he now also faces terrorism charges shocked many.
District Attorney (DA) Preet Bharara said Dino had used his position as Head of Suriname's Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) to assist individuals he believed were members of Hezbollah. The DA produced detail when he laid out this charge; he said it seemed Dino had had several meetings with the Hezbollah members, agreeing to allow them to use Suriname as a permanent base for attacks on American targets and even already determining which heavy weapons he might provide them with. This in "exchange for a multimillion-dollar pay-off," the indictment read.
The trap for his arrest was apparently laid in June 2013, when Dino (and an unnamed fellow suspect) met in Suriname with Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Confidential Sources, in a local government office. The indictment says that during the meeting Dino showed the Confidential Sources a rocket launcher and a kilogram of cocaine. As a test run, 10 kilograms of cocaine was then sent on a commercial flight from Suriname to the US; the drugs were intercepted by law enforcement officials, but Bouterse walked head-first further into the trap by personally verifying the logistical arrangements for the cocaine shipment in a text message.
Then, a month later he would prove that he was willing to go even further, openly discussing with one of the Confidential Sources opening Suriname to purported Hezbollah associates. The indictment alleges: "In July Bouterse met in Europe with one of the Confidential Sources and with two other men who purported to be associated with Hezbollah. During this meeting, he discussed initially hosting 30 to 60 Hezbollah members in Suriname for training and operations.
"He also indicated that he wanted a Hezbollah cell in Suriname to act as a kind of personal armed force. Bouterse confirmed his understanding that the purported Hezbollah operatives would operate in South America against American targets, and he agreed to supply Surinamese passports to the operatives and to assist with their applications for visas to travel from South America into the United States. In addition, in response to a request for surface-to-air missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, Bouterse stated that he would need 'two months' and that he would provide a list of what he could supply. Finally, at the July 2013 meeting in Europe, Bouterse agreed to create a false Surinamese passport for one of the purported Hezbollah operatives, so that Bouterse and the Hezbollah operative could travel to Suriname to inspect the facilities that Bouterse had agreed to prepare for the Hezbollah contingent."
The indictment said that the false travel document was delivered in August 2013, and Bouterse promised then that everything was ready in Suriname for the arrival of the purported Hezbollah members. Some "toys," or weapons, would be available for inspection.
The DA said Dino would be dealt with relentlessly. "Today we add an additional charge of attempting to support Hezbollah to Dino Bouterse's alleged crimes connected to a cocaine-smuggling conspiracy. We will be relentless in our efforts to pursue and prosecute those who seek to support terrorist organisations."
Dino's arrest is likely to weigh heavily on President Desi Bouterse, who is already suffering himself from a reputation tainted by a 1999 drug conviction in the Netherlands, and is one of 26 suspects in the derailed trial into the December 1982 murders of 15 of his political opponents. Since Dino was arrested, opposition parliamentarians have called on the President to explain and even step down. Bouterse, who has made an effort to distance himself from his son's troubles, has continuously said that Dino's problems are a personal matter and not one that regards his functioning as President.
He said that despite Dino's arrest affecting him like a "kick in the gut" he plans to return even stronger for the 2015 general elections.
(The Daily Herald)

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