Woman suspected of being FARC’s Europe link

Spain Colombia FARC
Maria Remedios Garcia Albert was arrested near Madrid on Saturday, July 26, 2008. Albert is accused of being a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.Str / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Police arrested a Spanish woman suspected of being a liaison between the leadership of Colombia's FARC rebel group and its members based in Europe, authorities said.

Maria Remedios Garcia Albert, 57, allegedly used a small non-governmental organization registered in Spain as cover to funnel money and provide support to FARC members in Europe, mainly in Switzerland and Sweden, the Interior Ministry said in a statement late Saturday.

She was arrested Saturday morning in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, 35 miles northwest of Madrid, the ministry said. Garcia Albert is suspected of belonging to a terrorist organization, authorities said.

It was not immediately clear if the arrest would lead to a crackdown on FARC members based in Europe.

Garcia Albert will remain in custody and appear before anti-terror Judge Baltasar Garzon once the police investigation has been finalized and he will make a decision on whether she is formally charged.

Colombian police collaborated with their Spanish counterparts during the investigation. The arrest was made based on information found in computers that belonged to FARC commander Raul Reyes, who was killed in March in a Colombian airstrike across the border in Ecuador, the ministry said.

FARC considered a terror organization
The FARC, whose Spanish acronym stands for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has been battling since 1964 to topple Colombia's government and establish a Marxist-style state. Spain considers the FARC a terrorist organization.

Garcia Albert is believed to have used a number of aliases to communicate with FARC leaders, including Reyes, the ministry said.

It said she is believed to have traveled to the FARC's secret camps in Colombia during 2007, where she liaised directly with Reyes, the ministry said.

She is also believed to have provided cover and handled money for FARC members in Colombia, the ministry said.

Garcia Albert is suspected of having used her job in OSPAAAL, a non-governmental organization registered with Spain's Interior Ministry to provide funds and social help to underdeveloped areas of Latin America, Asia and Africa — a post she held until a few months ago — as cover for financial activities in support of FARC, the ministry's statement said.

The acronym in Spanish stands for Organization of Solidarity with the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America. On its Web site, there is an article titled "One cannot talk of peace in Colombia without the FARC."