A son of Suriname’s president invited people he thought were from the Lebanese group Hezbollah to set up a base in his country to attack Americans in exchange for millions of dollars, US prosecutors said.
Federal prosecutors who already were pursuing drug charges against Dino Bouterse, a son of President Desi Bouterse, filed the latest allegation in US District Court for the Southern District of New York on Friday.
The younger Bouterse’s defence team said in a statement that he “is not, and never has been a supporter of any terrorist organisation and never intended to render aid to such an organisation”.
Dino Bouterse held a senior counterterrorism post in the South American country, but was arrested in Panama in August and sent to New York to face charges of smuggling cocaine into the United States. He pleaded not guilty to those charges.
According to a superseding indictment, US authorities recorded conversations Bouterse had with unnamed people and at least one US agent who posed as members of Hezbollah.
The US State Department has designated Hezbollah a foreign terrorist organisation since 1997, and US officials have sought to limit what they believe to be the group’s operations in South America.
The US indictment said Bouterse was willing to allow Hezbollah fighters to have a permanent base in Suriname and agreed to an initial payment of $2m.
According to the indictment, he would give the Hezbollah fighters fake identities and arm them with surface-to-air missiles and other weapons for attacks on the US and the Netherlands, Suriname’s former colonial ruler.
The indictment charges Bouterse with violating a US law against providing support to a foreign terrorist organisation.
His father, Desi Bouterse is a former military ruler accused of human rights violations, such as the killings of 15 political opponents in 1982, and drug trafficking. He ruled in Suriname from 1980 to 1987, and reclaimed power in 2010.