Colombia seeks Israelis accused of training death squads
By The Associated Press
Interpol issued an international arrest warrant
Tuesday for three Israelis accused of training private
armies of Colombian drug cartels and right-wing death
Yair Klein, Melnik Ferri and Tzedaka Abraham were
being sought on charges of criminal conspiracy and
instruction in terrorism and face nearly 11 years in
prison if convicted, a spokesman for Colombia's
domestic intelligence agency said, speaking on the
condition that he not be identified.
The men are accused of helping set up training camps
to teach private armies working for drug lords Pablo
Escobar and Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha about explosives,
car bombs and high-profile killings. The armies later
morphed into Colombia's right-wing death squads.
Klein, a former lieutenant colonel in the Israeli
army, appeared in a 1998 video used to train far-right
squads. In 1991, he was convicted and fined US$13,400
(10,030) by an Israeli court for selling arms to
Colombia's illegal groups.
Klein also spent 16 months in a Sierra Leon prison for
his role in a guns for blood diamonds deal.
In an interview with Caracol television conducted in
Israel and broadcast in March, Klein denied ever
working with the cocaine cartels, but confirmed that
he did instruct the far-right death squads in how to
eliminate the leftist insurgency.
He said he was originally hired - with the Colombian
Ministry of Defense's blessing - to organize security
for the banana industry in the northern region of
Many of his students went on to carry out some of
Colombia's most brutal massacres.
Klein said, however, that, They were not trained to
kill, only trained to defend themselves. Headed by
Escobar, the Medellin cartel pioneered the use of
unrestrained violence in its dealings with enemies and
As Escobar fought against the threat of extradition,
he declared war on Colombia, bringing down air planes,
blowing up police headquarters and offering his army
of assassins a set rate for the killing of policemen.
Escobar was finally shot down by police in his
hometown of Medellin in 1993. Rodriguez Gacha was
killed by police in 1989.
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