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After Iraq ‘Lord of the mountains’ exit, U.S. 10 years on, Mexican drug lord still dodges capture planning buildup in Persian Gulf

Washington Post Service


Syria’s President Bashar Assad said, ‘any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region.’

Western action in Syria will burn region, Assad says BY BASSEM MROUE Associated Press

BEIRUT — Syria’s President Bashar al Assad warned against Western intervention in his country’s 7-month-old uprising, saying such action would trigger an “earthquake” that “would burn the whole region.” Assad’s comments, published in an interview with Britain’s Sunday Telegraph, were made against a backdrop of growing calls from antiregime protesters for a no-fly zone over Syria and increasingly frequent clashes between government troops and army defectors, which left at least 30 troops dead late Saturday. “Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake,” Assad said. “Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans?” Assad’s remarks appeared to reflect his regime’s increasing concern about foreign intervention in the country’s crisis after the recent death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was toppled by a popular uprising backed by NATO airstrikes. Syrian opposition leaders have • TURN TO SYRIA, 2A

SANTIAGO DE LOS CABALLEROS, Mexico — He was the barefoot son of a peasant who became one of the richest moguls in the world, a billionaire entrepreneur with a thirdgrade education. He controls a vast drug distribution empire that spans six continents, but he still carries his own AK-47. He is generous and feared, a mass murderer and a folk hero. He is a ghost who has become a legend. In the fifth year of a terrible war in Mexico that has exhausted the military, consumed the presidency of Felipe Calderon and left more than 43,000 dead in drug violence, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the founder of the Sinaloa cartel, reigns supreme. His pursuers compare him to Al Capone, Butch Cassidy or Osama bin Laden. But none of these gets it quite right. Guzman is the single largest supplier of illegal drugs to the United States, and though he is in hiding, he is not on the run. Ten years after he escaped from prison in a laundry basket on the eve of his extradition to the United States, Chapo is more powerful than ever: His networks are deeper, his territory is expanding, and his supplies of cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine are essentially undiminished, according to U.S. and Mexican agents and officials, who were grinding their teeth at the news that Guzman’s 22-year-old beauty queen wife was able to travel in August to a Los Angeles County hospital, where she gave birth to healthy twins. Calderon, reportedly desperate to nail his nemesis and prove himself a winning commander in chief in an increasingly unpopular war that might cost his party the presidency, has raised the stakes to demand that Chapo be taken down before he leaves office next year. As a sign of the intensified effort, Mexico now operates at least three full-time capture-kill units solely dedicated to ending

Fugitive recalls experience of four decades on the run BY RAPHAEL MINDER AND JAMES BARRON New York Times Service

World War II veteran with two daughters, dead. He escaped from a state prison in 1970, and in 1972, dressed as a priest, he, with four others, hijacked a Miami-bound jetliner and demanded it be flown to Algeria. He pulled a gun from a hollowed-out Bible he had carried aboard and held it to a flight attendant’s head. The interview provided an account of his odyssey since the hijacking. Wright — who is fighting extradition under his assumed Portuguese identity of Jose Luis Jorge dos Santos — talked about how he had married a Portuguese woman he met at a nightclub more than 30 years ago and done odd jobs, working as a teacher in Western Africa and more recently decorating houses, as well as selling chicken and handicraft in Portugal. Wright said he lifted weights and rode an exercise bicycle before breakfast most days, and read the Bible — “I got rebaptized in 2002,” he said. But he remained defiant toward

CASAS NOVAS, Portugal — George Wright, the fugitive murderer who was captured in Portugal last month, 39 years after hijacking a jetliner and demanding a $1 million ransom, said he figured U.S. authorities had given up the chase long ago. But, he said, he never stopped worrying that they would come knocking. “Knowing the Americans, I always feared that they had their antennas up,” he said in a twohour interview in this village outside Lisbon, Portugal, where he was arrested last month. Sitting at his kitchen table, he wore sweat pants, plastic sandals and the ankle bracelet ordered by a Portuguese judge who moved him from a Lisbon jail to house arrest while he fights extradition to the United States. Wright, 68, was convicted in a 1962 murder in New Jersey — an armed robbery that netted him $70 but left Walter Patterson, a gas station owner and decorated • TURN TO WRIGHT, 2A

the reign of Guzman, said officials with direct knowledge of the groups. These special operations teams — one each in the Mexican army, navy and federal police — have been vetted to work alongside agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, who have supplied detailed intelligence about Guzman’s possible locations. Calderon and his top law enforcement officials say they have come close to getting Guzman — within an hour or two — several times in the past two years. Despite such assertions, Calderon has been dogged by perceptions among many Mexicans that his a d m i n i s t ra t i o n , especially his military, has gone easy on Guzman’s cartel, or even that it’s helping him, while it goes after his biggest rival, Los

Zetas, a rising criminal power in the country. “He’s protected by the government,” said Javier Valdez, a top editor of the Sinaloa-based journal Rio Doce, adding that he doesn’t think any urgent effort is underway to find Chapo. Guzman, one of the most wanted criminals in North America, has proven impossible to catch — even as U.S. drones penetrate Mexican airspace, and Mexican security forces, supplied with sophisticated U.S. eavesdropping equipment, scan the ether for the sound of his encrypted voice. His pursuers suspect he is most likely in a mountain stronghold here in the Sierra Madre range of northwest Mexico, a hardscrabble backwater of Mexican hillbillies that gives new meaning to the words “poor” and “remote.”





MacDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The Obama administration plans to bolster the U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf after it withdraws the remaining troops from Iraq this year, according to officials and diplomats. That repositioning could include new combat forces in Kuwait able to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran. The plans, under discussion for months, gained new urgency after U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement this month that the last U.S. soldiers would be brought home from Iraq by the end of December. Ending the eight-year war was a central pledge of his presidential campaign, but U.S. military officers and diplomats, as well as officials of several countries in the region, worry that the withdrawal could leave instability or worse in its wake. After unsuccessfully pressing both the Obama administration and the Iraqi government to permit as many as 20,000 U.S. troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011, the Pentagon is now drawing up an alternative. In addition to negotiations over maintaining a ground combat presence in Kuwait, the United States is considering sending more naval warships through international waters in the region. With an eye on the threat of a belligerent Iran, the administration is also seeking to expand military ties with the six nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. While the United States has close bilateral military relationships with each, the administration and the military are trying to foster a new “security architecture” for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense. The size of the standby U.S. combat force to be based in Kuwait remains the subject of negotiations, with an answer expected in coming days.

Romance blossoms amid Gadhafi’s ashes BY ELLEN KNICKMEYER Foreign Policy

for several thousand young rebels, after slaughtering 10 camels. From a specially raised dais, speakers praised the young rebel fighters late into the evening. Hundreds of excited young women and girls in head scarves mingled near rifle-toting young men, a novelty in this conservative country that was

overwhelming to members of both genders in the crowd that night. “It’s like a wedding!” Faqiar exclaimed, shaking his head in surprise. Relations between Libyan men and women — deeply distorted by the eccentric Libyan leader’s refusal

JANZOUR, Libya — When it comes to love, Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya was unlucky for unmarried 33-year-old truck driver Ahmed Nori Faqiar. His looks would have benefited if his parents could ever • TURN TO LIBYA, 2A have sprung for a dentist. Lack of means forced him to live unhappily at his childhood home well into adulthood. Marriage, a home of his own, kids — all are dreams that the wiry Libyan had long ago steeled himself to stop hoping for. “Before, I was not even daring to look at girls as wife material, because I knew I could not afford” to get married, say Faqiar now. These days, though, Faqiar wears the mismatched camouflage of Libya’s rebels and a dashing bandana on his head, pirate-style. He carries a gun. He is a veteran of battles for Libyans’ freedom from Gadhafi’s regime — and it’s the women who are talking to him. “Girls around the area come up to you and say, ‘Thank you! You made us proud, you made us happy,’ ” Faqiar told me one night reJOAO PINA/NEW YORK TIMES SERVICE cently. He spoke on the sidelines of a camel and couscous feast that the Libyan women celebrate the fall of Moammar Gadhafi at people in this Tripoli suburb threw Martyr’s Square in Tripoli, Libya.


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THE AMERICAS ............4A U.S. NEWS ...................5A OPINION........................7A COMICS & PUZZLES ...6B

10/31/2011 3:22:20 AM

MIAMI HERALD 31 Octubre 2011  

MIAMI HERALD 31 Octubre 2011

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