Tanja Nijmeijer close to FARC leadership

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Tanja Nijmeijer, the Dutch woman fighting alongside Colombian guerilla fighters, plays a much more important role inside the FARC than had been assumed until now. She is a personal assistant to a commander and may be involved in attacks. The revelations are made in a documentary on Dutch television due to be broadcast next week.

Tanja Nijmeijer made the news in 2007 when her diaries were discovered in a raid by the Colombian army on a FARC guerrilla camp. The soldiers discovered the diaries, written in Dutch, which describe her motives as well as her doubts about the FARC’s struggle. After another raid, in which a computer and strategic documents about infiltration at a Colombian university and imminent attacks were recovered, she appears to have been the computer’s user and acted as a secretary at one time for commander Carlos Lozada.

The laptop contains holiday photographs taken in the Netherlands as well as pictures of Ms Nijmeijer as a FARC fighter. Colombian intelligence found information on her possible involvement in bomb attacks on a police station, a supermarket and a bus in the capital Bogotá.

The latest information comes from Dutch activist Liduine Zumpolle, who received it from the Colombian Defence Ministry. She used the material to write a book ‘Tanja’ which is due out next week. Filmmaker Leo de Boer was given access to the material and included it in his documentary entitled Dichter bij Tanja (Closer to Tanja) which will be broadcast on Dutch television next week.

In the documentary Mr De Boer and Ms Zumpolle took Tanja Nijmeijer’s mother and sister into the jungle. Right in the middle of the area where Tanja is believed to be active, the group makes an appeal in Dutch to the FARC fighter on the army radio. They explain how she can escape from the FARC, if she so wishes.

No sign of life
There had been no sign of life from Tanja Nijmeijer since the summer of 2007. It was the first time the family had talked openly about her. They didn't want to speak to the media and were angry that Ms Zumpolle published Tanja's diaries.

“I believe that’s something your just don’t do” says Tanja’s mother Hannie in the film. When the documentary maker produced new pictures of her daughter, she finally agreed to make the trip to Colombia and to meet Liduine Zumpolle.

Hannie Nijmeijer says it’s inconceivable that Tanja would have gone so long without getting a message to the family. “I’m sure she wouldn’t want that. I keep bouncing back and forth between two thoughts: she’s still alive and she’s no longer alive.”

Initially it was assumed she must have been killed as punishment for losing her diaries. However, in the film, former guerrilla fighters who have seen her and high-ranking officers confirm that she is still alive. She is now believed to be working as a personal assistant to Súarez Rojas, otherwise known as Mono Jojoy, one of the FARC’s most important commanders.

One of the generals says he has information that the Dutch woman wants to leave the FARC, but does not give any details. “We made a determined effort to find Tanja,” says documentary maker Pieter van Huystee. But making contact with the FARC proved too difficult.