Viewing cable 06PARAMARIBO399, DESI BOUTERSE AND SHAHEED ROGER KHAN ACTIVITIES
|06PARAMARIBO399||2006-06-23 18:39||SECRET//NOFORN||Embassy Paramaribo|
DE RUEHPO #0399/01 1741839
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 231839Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8477
INFO RUEHGE/AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN 2000
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1554
S E C R E T PARAMARIBO 000399
DEPT FOR INR
DEPT FOR WHA/CAR-LUFTIG
E.O. 12958: DECL: 4/30/2016
SUBJECT: DESI BOUTERSE AND SHAHEED ROGER KHAN ACTIVITIES
REF: A. SECSTATE 92995
¶B. PARAMARIBO 039
¶C. PARAMARIBO 043
¶D. PARAMARIBO 285
¶E. 05 PARAMARIBO 751
¶F. PARAMARIBO 090
¶G. PARAMARIBO 135
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR MARSHA E. BARNES, REASONS 1.4 (b)
Post presents response to reftel A. In light of the recent
arrest of Shaheed “Roger” Khan, Post notes the state of
flux in relationship between Khan and Desi Bouterse.
¶1. (S/NF) WHAT IS THE STATUS OF DESI BOUTERSE AND SHAHEED
“ROGER” KHAN’S CURRENT RELATIONSHIP?
Khan and Bouterse are partners in the drug trade, according
to sensitive sourcing. The police suspect that Surinamese
citizen Steven Douglas, the owner of local fishing and
hunting store “Tacklebox”,” has served as the intermediary
between the two.
¶2. (S/NF) HOW AND THROUGH WHAT MEANS DOES KHAN SUPPORT
BOUTERSE? WHAT CAN OR DOES BOUTERSE OFFER IN RETURN?
Khan is believed to help Bouterse’s financial situation by
giving him the means to supplement his income through
narcotics trafficking. According to a senior Surinamese
law enforcement official, the dismantling of several
criminal rings by the GOS through seizures, arrests, and
convictions over the last two years hurt Bouterse
financially and forced him to reach out to new partners,
such as Khan. According to the scenario outlined by the
Attorney General to the Ambassador in January, Khan had
planned to support Bouterse’s efforts to avoid jail time
via the creation of civil unrest and possible assassination
attempts. (See refs B and C). It is not clear what
Bouterse can provide in return, but he likely offered Khan
access to Surinamese criminal elements and structures,
eased access to regular shipping to Europe for drug
movement, and protection while in Suriname. Just after his
arrest, Khan engaged one of Suriname’s leading criminal
defense lawyers, Irwin Kanhai, who is also defending
Bouterse in the December 1982 murder trial.
¶3. (S/NF) IS KHAN ACTIVE IN THE NARCOTICS TRADE, AND IF
SO, WHICH DRUG TRAFFICKING GROUPS DOES HE DEAL WITH? DOES
HE MAINTAIN TIES TO ANY OTHER CRIMINAL GROUPS, SUCH AS
TERRORIST OR ORGANIZED CRIME GROUPS? WHAT FINANCES AND
TECHNICAL CAPABILITY DOES HE HAVE AT HIS DISPOSAL?
As reported in INSCR, Khan is the head of a major drug
trafficking organization based in Guyana. In this
capacity, he has dealt directly with Columbia drug cartels
and criminal groups in the U.S. and Suriname. According to
Minister of Justice and Police Chan Santokhi, Khan has
conducted arms-for-drugs deals with FARC.
According to sensitive sourcing, Bouterse still has
connections to Eduardo Beltran, who is a major regional
narcotics logistics/transportation handler currently
operating out of Venezuela. Beltran reportedly travels to
Suriname on a monthly basis.
At the time of Khan’s arrest, he was found with 33 cell
phones, 2 satellite phones, and a powerful laptop, which
would suggest technical sophistication. Embassy Georgetown
would be better able to address his financial situation.
¶4. (S/NF) HOW OFTEN, AND WHERE, DOES BOUTERSE TRAVEL TO
GUYANA? REF C INDICATES KHAN WAS LAST IN SURINAME IN
JANUARY 2006, BUT ANALYSTS WOULD WELCOME INFORMATION ON HOW
OFTEN HE TRAVELS TO SURINAME.
According to Bouterse’s public admission he travels to
Guyana on a regular basis, but “keeps his travels quiet so
as not to cause problems for friends.” (See ref D). Over
the course of the past a year, Surinamese police know of
three separate occasions in which Bouterse went to Guyana.
The last known Bouterse trip to Guyana was the first week
of May. Bouterse has also admitted to regular travel to
According to Minister Santokhi, Khan has traveled to
Suriname on a “regular basis” over the last year; police
know of two Khan visits to Paramaribo in the last year.
Police know that Khan has also visited Bouterse’s property
located near Wasjabo, a village that sits on the Corantijn
River not far from the town of Apoera on the Guyanese-
Surinamese border, but do not know of dates or times. Out
of Washabo is likely where Bouterse crosses into Guyana, as
there are no border controls in the isolated location.
According to the Attorney General, Bouterse has also met
with Khan in the western town of Nickerie at a property
owned by NDP Parliamentarian Mohamed Rashied Doekhie.
¶5. (S) OTHER THAN THROUGH VIOLENCE, DO BOUTERSE OR KHAN
HAVE ANY PLANS TO CREATE CIVIL UNREST THROUGH PROPAGANDA,
RUMOR CAMPAIGNS AGAINST GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS OR POLITICAL
LEADERS, OR STIRRING RACIAL OR SOCIOECONOMIC TENSIONS?
As the leader of Suriname’s largest single opposition party
(NDP), Bouterse takes full advantage of his well-organized
political apparatus to publicly harangue and provoke
government leaders through public speeches, protests, and
parliamentary antics, often-generating significant public
discussion. In fall 2005, Bouterse led a series of
ineffectual political street protests demanding the
government step down. (See ref E). Since then, Bouterse’s
NDP party has conducted a concerted and aggressive campaign
to undermine the fragile majority of the governing
coalitions, force new elections and form a government. (See
ref F). In the context of the upcoming December murder
trial, these actions are likely an extension of Bouterse’s
suspected efforts to create a critical mass of unrest and
instability in order to force the government to end his
Some observers portray Bouterse as a spent force, however,
who would be unable to muster enough domestic support to
create the level of unrest required to end the trial.
There are also indications of splits within Bouterse’s NDP
(See ref G). These observations combined with reported cash
flow problems may explain Bouterse’s reported outreach to
Khan for support.
A few months ago, Bouterse asserted that President Ronald
Venetiaan’s nephew and head of Suriname’s intelligence
services (CIVD) Col. Johan Ceder was involved in arms-for-
drugs trade with Brazilian criminal organizations.
However, in this small society with its large informal
sector, drug trafficking and money laundering, it is not
far fetched to think that there may be a kernel of truth at
root of smear campaign.
According to the Attorney General, Bouterse has put out the
word in an NDP neighborhood that former Minister of Trade
and Industry Siegfried Gilds had brought Khan into the
country to assassinate the Minister of Justice and Police
and Attorney General. Gilds is under investigation for
money laundering. The Attorney General categorically
dismissed this possibility. For Bouterse, such a
disinformation campaign serves to shift the blame and
distance himself from Khan, while settling old political
scores against the man who removed him as head of the armed
forces in the early 1990’s.
If the GOS hands over Khan to the US, Bouterse may try to
garner support by portraying the current government as a
puppet of the US. This plan is less than likely to occur,
however, as public opinion for the most part supports a
Khan departure from Su riname and would backfire for
¶6. (C) HOW CAPABLE ARE THE SURINAMESE MILITARY AND POLICE
TO QUARANTINE ANY DISTURBANCES? HOW MUCH INFLUENCE DOES
BOUTERSE HAVE ON SURINAME’S MILITARY AND POLICE?
The police are capable of containing disturbances of short-
term duration and minimal scope within Paramaribo city
limits. However, any large-scale disturbance involving
simultaneous events around the city would likely spin out
of control, with even those not aligned with Bouterse
taking advantage of the situation to loot and riot. This
would necessitate military intervention, but it would take
significant time for police and military together to
restore order in a sustained disruption scenario. There is
also a history of political arson in Suriname, which places
Paramaribo’s many historic downtown wooden structures at
risk. For events taking place outside the city, i.e. the
interior, police would be unable to handle a disturbance of
any significance and require immediate military assistance.
It is highly questionable whether the CIVD would play a
constructive role in quelling a disturbance. The CIVD has
nominal responsibility for national security but is in fact
used primarily for domestic political intelligence, and it
is comprised of thugs and shady characters with ambiguous
loyalties. That officers in the CIVD serve as a protective
force for senior GOS officials is disquieting.
The President and his cabinet have a habit of slow,
uncoordinated public reaction to adverse events, signaling
that in the midst of a significant disturbance, there could
be a security vacuum as the populace vainly looks towards a
plodding government for reassurance that order will be
Bouterse still appears to have a degree of support in the
military, but it is difficult to measure. A group of
roughly 10 lower ranking persons in uniform attended a
Bouterse led NDP rally in late 2005 to show their support.
The Commander of the Armed Forces was reportedly extremely
angry at this, as members of the military members are
restricted from political involvement while in uniform; the
commander handed down subsequent disciplinary actions. In
2004 a Bouterse crony, LTC Hans Jannasch, was sentenced to
eight years in prison by a Surinamese judge for running an
ecstasy lab; Jannasch was still on the military payroll at
the time, but was not active. According to the commander
of the land forces, senior officers are always vigilant and
watchful for the potential for growing support for
Bouterse has little direct influence within the Surinamese
police force, but his past as a two-time military coup
leader and his alleged links to organized crime still
intimidate police, who would plan any operations against
him with utmost care.
French police have recently trained the police Arrest Team
on making arrest under difficult circumstances in
preparation for a possible Bouterse arrest. Police and
military are currently conducting joint training exercises
in preparation for the December murder trial. The head of
the Military Police recently requested US military police
protective service training in August to train a 40-60
person military police force assigned to conduct security
for the trial.
¶7. (S) WHAT IS BOUTERSE’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE RULING
PEOPLE’S PROGRESSIVE PARTY (PPP) IN GUYANA? IS THE PPP
SUPPORTING BOUTERSE’S EFFORTS?
Post is not aware of any significant links between Bouterse
and the PPP, but there have been past connections between
Bouterse and the Guyanese opposition PNCR. Despite both
being in the opposition at the time, in June 2004
Bouterse’s NDP party and the PNCR signed a memorandum of
understanding (MOU) calling for a urgent and peaceful
resolution to the border dispute between Guyana and
Suriname. According to PNCR leader Robert Corbin, the
signing was at the initiative of Bouterse. MOU discussions
took place in Georgetown and in Nickerie in western
¶8. (S) WILL EITHER GUYANA OR VENEZUELA GRANT BOUTERSE
ASYLUM OR PROVIDE HIM WITH OTHER SUPPORT? IF SO, WHY WOULD
THEY DO SO?
Post defers to Georgetown and Caracas.
¶9. (S) DOES BOUTERSE HAVE TIES TO ANY OTHER GOVERNMENTS
THAT MAY CONSIDER OFFERING HIM ASYLUM OR OTHER SUPPORT?
It is unlikely that Bouterse would receive asylum from
other governments. However, Dutch Embassy contacts
maintain that Bouterse owns isolated property in northern
Brazil that could be a possible hideaway.
¶10. (C) WHAT IS KHAN’S ABILITY TO HELP DESTABILIZE THE
GUYANESE GOVERNMENT AND/OR THE ELECTIONS?
Post defers to Embassy Georgetown.
¶11. (S/NF) IS THERE EVIDENCE, BEYOND POSSIBLE CONJECTURE,
THAT KHAN ENJOYS SOME LEVEL OF POLITICAL PROTECTION FROM
SENIOR OFFICIALS OF THE GUYANESE GOVERNMENT AND, IF SO,
Post defers to Embassy Georgetown.
¶12. (S/NF) WHAT ARE THE GUYANESE GOVERNMENT’S OPTIONS AND
CAPABILITIES, ASSUMING THERE IS THE POLITICAL WILL TO DO
SO, FOR, AT A MINIMUM, CONTAINING KHAN AND HIS ACTIVITIES
OR, AT BEST, SUCCESSFULLY APPREHENDING AND PROSECUTING HIM?
Post defers to Embassy Georgetown.