Colombia seeks Israelis in paramilitary scandal

Interpol issued an international arrest warrant April 3 for three Israelis accused of training illegal paramilitary groups in Colombia. Yair Klein, Melnik Ferri and Tzedaka Abraham are being sought on charges of criminal conspiracy and instruction in terrorism, facing nearly 11 years in prison if convicted, an anonymous Colombian intelligence source said. The men are accused of helping set up training camps to instruct the private armies of drug lords Pablo Escobar and Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha. These armies later morphed into Colombia’s right-wing paramilitaries.

Klein, a former lieutenant colonel in the Israeli army, appeared in a 1998 training video produced for the Colombian paras. In 1991, he was convicted and fined $13,400 by an Israeli court for selling arms to Colombia’s illegal paras. He also spent 16 months in a Sierra Leon prison for his role in “blood diamonds” trafficking.

In a March interview with Caracol TV conducted in Israel, Klein denied ever working with the cocaine cartels, but confirmed that he did instruct the paramilitaries. He said he was originally hired—with the blessings of the Colombian Defense Ministry —to organize security for the banana industry in the northern region of Urabá. (Haaretz, April 3)

See our last posts on Israel, Colombia and the para scandal. See also our last posts on Yair Klein and his sinister adventures in Colombia and West Africa (which concerned the illegal trade in “blood diamonds“).