whiskey in the jar : smugglers and traffickers

Now some men like the fishin’ and some men like the fowling’ / And some men like ta hear, ta hear cannon ball a roaring’/ Me I like sleepin’ specially in my Molly’s chamber/ But here I am in prison, here I am with a ball and chain yeah

The Cork and Kerry mountains are a long way from the Syrian and Turkish border and it is unlikely that there is much whiskey in these smugglers jars…in the past week, three different news services have produced reports about the smugglers, traffickers and others involved in supporting the activities of the various armed groups in Syria. It is possible that two of the pieces are about the same individual but all of the articles are interesting and demonstrate that cross-border smuggling networks and logistics are necessary for the various groups in Syria and Iraq to continue to receive men and material – perhaps more so in Syria than in Iraq. The first two articles hint at emerging regret by those involved in the trafficking business at having empowered entities associated with the foreign fighters. In the third piece, the smuggler has no regrets at bringing in the foreign fighters to Syria.

On 11 September, Europe 1, a French radio station had an interview with an arms smuggler, “Abou Lies” who stated that he had supplied weapons and smuggled foreign fighters including 1000 Chechens.

On 15 September, Hannah Smith wrote a long piece for Middle East Eye based on an interview with “Abou Laith”. There are many details and anecdotes that make the piece worth the read. The overriding sentiment is one of a smuggler beginning to regret the longer term consequences of having empowered the more radical elements associated with the foreign fighters.

On 12 September, Buzzfeed ran a piece, “Meet The Smuggler Who Has Brought More Than 1,000 Foreign Fighters Into Syria” about an individual who states he had moved 1000 foreign fighters into Syria. Again the piece is rich in detail suggesting smuggling operations that veer between the professional and something from Four Lions.