Skip to comments.St Maarten - funding terrorism?
Posted on 10/06/2007 10:26:53 AM PDT by knighthawk
The Caribbean island of St Maarten - part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands - is an important centre for international drug trafficking. The island might also be involved in financing terrorism in the Middle East and Afghanistan. These are two conclusions reached in a confidential report about to be published by the Dutch Research and Documentation Centre (RDC).
The report, "Organised crime and law enforcement on St. Maarten", is due to be presented to the Antillean Justice Minister David Dick on Monday, 8 October, but its conclusions are already common knowledge.
The RDC itself has declined to comment until the report, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice, has been presented to the minister.
The report claims the authorities in the Windward Islands have details of money being passed to terrorist organisations via St Maarten, and it says huge sums are channelled through bank accounts on the island to organisations said to be linked to the Taliban and Hamas.
Al-Qaeda The researchers say the money comes from drug trafficking and people-smuggling. They also point to a US request for legal assistance in which a company on St Maarten is suspected of sending money to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
There are indications too that St Maarten is being used at a staging post to smuggle people into the United States. Law enforcement agencies say there might also be al-Qaeda trained terrorists on the island who are on the US "no-fly-list" - a list of people banned from flying to the United States.
Journalist Paul de Windt is not really surprised at the RDC's conclusions.
"We didn't have any customs until about five or six years ago. Before then, there were virtually no checks at all."
But he is keen to stress that, with the help of the Netherlands, the island's customs authority has been more effective in recent years and that checks are being carried out more frequently.
The island's casinos might be playing an important role in money flows, because there is no direct control over them. The Unusual Transactions Reporting Office has only recently begun work on the Windward Islands. De Windt also points to St Maarten's role as something of a regional capital in the northeastern Caribbean.
De Windt has less to say about the links between the island and terrorism.
"I know there are certain organisations in the Middle East which are supported by wealthy idealistic islanders."
De Windt believes the RDC report could lead to tighter controls:
"There will be closer monitoring of how the island's tourist industry is financed, especially the casinos. But also of the container industry. There's still no container scan here."
Except for the protected enclaves where the wealthy Dutch, French and other elites live, there's overcrowding and eye pollution everywhere.
The poor live in eye-numbing barracks of public housing stuck here and there. There's little open space left. Zoning may exist in name, but it's not evident. The beaches, even at the plush resorts, look grimy and the water gray and polluted.
My guide told me that the number of autos multiplies several times over in season. In off-seasons, cars and especially tour buses and buses for the natives can hardly maneuver in the narrow, winding streets in the towns because of choked-up traffic. He stated that without objection by authorites seasonal residents ship hundreds of cars onto the island for their stay. Locals and cab, bus and truck drivers are dismayed by this but have no recourse. Noxious fumes pollute the streets. Tourists don't see much of this if they don't bother to explore the island.
In other words, administration of the island stinks.
The French administrative side of the island coexists nicely with the Dutch side. Actually, they're both complicit in corruption.
Drug trafficking, greed, gambling, combined with overseas Dutch and French big business/government pressures with their interference and inducements on local governments......not to mention the influx of international money thugs and money launderers.......all devolving on a tiny, vulnerable island such as St. Maartens, there's only one result.....disaster for the natives and disaster for the once-gorgeous environment.
Thanks for the information on St. Maarten.
My husband loves St. John most, but will go to any other American protectorate (dunno if that’s the right word).
Thank you for the post and ping, knighthawk!
For a little change, hop on the ferry to enjoy the shopping fleshpots and an outdoor cafe lunch in St. Thomas.
We usually take a day to have a nice, outdoor lunch in St. Thomas.
Then, I hit the market to get Oakley knock-offs for the grands.
The rest of our time is spent snorkeling in the many beautiful bays around St. John.
Surprisingly, some of the best snorkeling is just off of the condo where we stay.
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