U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in the Southern District of New York will combine his office’s international narcotics and terrorism units, The New York Times reported yesterday.
Manhattan’s top federal prosecutor told The Times that he believes that members of radical Islamic organizations are venturing into drug trafficking to fund their operations. Western intelligence and law enforcement officials say al Qaeda, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Hezbollah are among the extremists groups that have a relationship with drug traffickers, according to the newspaper.
Bharara noted that last month the Drug Enforcement Administration arrested three Africans on terrorism and drug trafficking charges brought by his office, according to The Times. The three men allegedly have ties to al Qaeda, the newspaper said.
“It would be sort of law enforcement and national security malpractice not to also be going at it this way,” Bharara told The Times.
The new Terrorism and International Narcotics unit will include 21 prosecutors and three managers from the old terrorism and national security and international narcotics trafficking units, according to the newspaper. Michael Farbiarz, who served as a deputy in the terrorism unit, and Anjan Sahni, who was the chief of international narcotics, will lead the new unit, The Times said. Jocelyn Strauber, who served under Sahni, will be their deputy, according to the newspaper.
The Southern District will now have double the number of prosecutors working on terrorism cases as it heads into the trial of 9/11 “mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, known in law enforcement circles as KSM, and four other suspected terrorists.
We reported last week that Southern District of New York Assistant U.S. Attorney David Raskin is expected to head the Justice Department team that will prosecute the terrorism suspects. Raskin previously led the office’s terrorism unit.