One morning in Panama, I heard on the news that there had been a small number of South Africans detained sneaking through the Darien jungle heading north. Having worked in Iraq for a number of years with South Africans of numerous ethnicities, I was curious for a look. I stepped back into the room to see on the TV what was being reported as several “South Africans” with SA passports and a large number of crisp $100 USD bills on the way out to be deported.

As soon as I saw them standing in Tocumen International Airport, ready to be escorted to SA, I knew they were Havashas, an ethnic group that lives around the horn of Africa—primarily Somali, Eritrean, and Ethiopian. I immediately contacted the U.S. embassy and an old friend there, notifying him that A.) They were NOT South African, B.) The bills were most likely counterfeits from Venezuela (I will explain this in a minute, starting with an experience I had back in 2005), and C.) They probably had ties to al-Shabaab. Three days later I received a phone call from my trusty friend. “Dude, how did you know?”

That was an eye-opener to what had become a serious problem: officials selling visas for transit purposes to presumably East African farmers, but who were, in actuality, linked to Hezbollah and al-Shabaab, both known for their role in the drug trade and narco-terror. [1]

Back in 2005, I had been given photos to hand over to the U.S. embassy. They showed an individual from the then Ministry of Labor in Panama receiving a large payoff (envelope) from a Suntracs senior official. Suntracs is a labor union suspected of being funded in part by the former Chavez regime, and is rumored by many within the “barrios” (where the majority membership resides) to be behind counterfeit money influxes. Chavez had even been found to be supplying the FARC with weapons—possibly even missiles. (Colombian authorities discovered evidence of this on Raul Reyes’s laptop and several others after he was killed in 2008. The information showed hundreds of millions of dollars of weaponry transferred into FARC hands by Chavez.) [7] This demonstrates a correlation in regards to some Islamist group activities and drug smuggling and socialist subversion.