Wikileaks: US probed Al-Qaeda presence in Paraguay

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Washington ordered its diplomats in 2008 to probe a possible Al-Qaeda presence in a border zone between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, according to a confidential cable released Sunday by WikiLeaks.

The State Department cable on "reporting and collection needs" was sent to the US embassy in Asuncion.

It revealed a US concern about the possibility of Al-Qaeda and other terror networks operating in the Paraguay-Argentina-Brazil border zone, which has a history of immigration from Arab countries.

The cable requested intelligence on terror groups and supporters including Al-Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups such as Egypt's Jamaa Islamiya; Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip; and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Washington requested any evidence of the terror groups raising cash through human smuggling, drug running and other criminal activities, and any details of training networks and ties with other groups.

The US State Department also wanted to know if Paraguay's government supported its declared "war on terror".

It asked Asuncion diplomats to report on Paraguay's plans to confront any terror threat, "including support for or opposition to the United States in the war against terrorism; Paraguay's position in regional and international fora, including support for or objection to US counterterrorism policies".

WikiLeaks published more 250,000 confidential cables, releasing them to the Spanish daily El Pais, Britain's The Guardian, The New York Times, France's Le Monde and the German magazine Der Spiegel.

The cable on Paraguay was published by The Guardian and made available on its Internet site.

© 2010 AFP

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