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Polisario in ‘Direct Contact’ with Colombian Paramilitary Leader Baez

Ivan Roberto Duque Gaviria, known as Ernesto Baez, died of a heart attack on November 19.

Rabat – Ernesto Baez, the former leader of Colombia’s now-dissolved paramilitary group, had direct connections with members of the Polisario Front who were active in Latin America, according to one of Baez’s relatives.

Baez died at the age of 64 following a heart attack on November 19. The former member of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), served 10 years in prison for committing at least 1,800 crimes of forced displacement, torture, and illegal financing.

A relative of Ernesto Baez, who requested anonymity, said that the leader of the dissolved paramilitary group was in “direct and close contact with members of the Polisario who were active in Latin America,” as quoted by Sahel Intelligence.

The news outlet said that the “dangerous” activities the Polisario Front members conducted with the Colombian paramilitary leader focused on “drug trafficking between America, the Sahelo-Saharan region and Europe.”

The criminal acts allegedly generated millions of dollars.

The Polisario Front has long been linked to criminal activities in the Sahel region, a region that top security officials have described as a fertile ground for terror groups.

Moroccan officials and security officers have been calling on international allies to reinforce collaboration in order to tackle terror activities in the Sahel.

Head of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) Abdelhak Khiame deplored the situation in the Sahel and lack of cooperation between countries, saying that the lack of action provides terrorist groups a propitious climate to develop terror activities in the region.

Khiame said that the Polisario Front “can also be considered as a terrorist organization in this region.”

The BCIJ, according to El Khiame, managed to identify more than 100 Polisario Front members who are operating in AQIM “along which they have been involved in attacks in northern Mauritania.”