Narcoterrorism: Relation between Two Issues
Anthony P. Brewer
Community College of Baltimore County
On 9 December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly issues declaration 51/210 (1994) on measures to eliminate terrorism wherein it expressed concerns “at the growing and dangerous links between terrorist groups and drug traffickers and their paramilitary gangs, which have resorted to all types of violence, thus endangering the constitutional order of states and violating basic human rights.” Since then, heated discussions have been surrounding the issue of financing international terrorism through use of illicit drug, money laundering, illegal arms trafficking, and illegal movement of nuclear, chemical, biological, and other deadly materials. The term narcoterrorism, coined in 1983 by a former president of Peru, refers to groups using either drug trade profits to finance terrorism or use terrorist tactics to support drug operations (White pg.80). According to Rachel Ehrenfeld’s research in 2003, manufacturing and distributing drug is the primary source of money to support terrorist actions. The United States Government tends to accept this proposal, however stays extremely controversial.
Former President Belaunde Terry of Peru coined the term “narcoterrorism” in 1983 when describing terrorist style attacks against his nation’s anti-narcotic police. Since then, over thirty countries can establish linkage between armed conflicts and illicit drug production and trafficking with reasonable certainty. The United Nations estimates there are more than one hundred countries involved in some form in drug trade through cultivation, processing, trafficking, distribution, or laundering profits (Schmid 2005 pg.2). Organized criminals, smugglers, and drug dealers naturally because they move in the same circles claims Steven Casteel, and executive with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Casteel goes on the claim the relationship between drugs and terrorism has be present throughout history but has intensified through globalization (White 2014 pg.80). In 2004 the French Ministry of Defense released a report stating that drugs are the primary currency to support terrorist efforts. The French government points out the Revolutionary Armed forces of Columbia (FARC) and Shining Path to highlight the influence of cocaine. Hezbollah and Hama has also been known to use the Latin American drug trade to raise fund, the United States military units have tracked their activities going back to South American which concern was expressed over the amount of money involved. Linkage between Los Zetus and Hezbollah in Western Africa also brings great concern to the relationship between drugs and terrorism. Los Zetus uses Hezbollah to launder drug profits while Hezbollah uses the payoffs from Los Zetus to finance terrorist operations. Even speculation between Los Zetus and Iran has risen as analysts believe the cartels were behind the plot to assassinate the United States Saudi ambassador in 2001.
Joshua Krasna (1997) take takes the argument of narcoterrorism even farther as he states “If people are willing to expand the definition of national security beyond the framework of military defense, drugs pose a security problem”. Krasna’s argument is that the drug trade threatens political and social stability by disrupting society. The drug trade limits the ability of legitimate governments and increases the power of underground and terrorist groups. Terrorist not only use drugs to support their actions, but also to exploit the social safety concerns of their enemies. In Mexico, seven major drug trafficking organizations dominate the political landscape in northern Mexico. Officially labeled drug trafficking organizations by the United States government, these drug cartels bring a high level of crime to the Unites States and Mexican border. Violence spills over into Texas and Arizona as the cartels have directly...
Cited: Ehrenfeld, R. (2003). Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It. Chicago: Bonus Books.
General Assembly. (1994). A/RES/51/210: Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism. Online: http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/51/a51r210.htm
Krasna, J. S. (1997). “Narcotics and the National Security Producer States.” Texas Law Review. Online: http://www.lib.unb.ca/Texts/JCS/s96/articles/krasna.html.
Schmid, A. (2005). Links between Terrorism and Drug Trafficking: A Case of “Narco-terrorism”. Online:http://www.turkishpolicy.com/images/stories/2004-02-globalsecurity/TPQ2004-2-schmid.pdf.
White, J. R. (2014). Terrorism and Homeland Security. California: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
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