The global traffic in illicit drugs contributes to terrorist risk through at least five mechanisms: supplying cash, creating chaos and instability, supporting corruption, providing “cover” and sustaining common infrastructures for illicit activity, and competing for law enforcement and intelligence attention. Of these, cash and chaos are likely to be the two most important. Different drugs, different trafficking routes, and different organizations have different relationships to terrorist threats. Therefore it might be possible to improve domestic security by targeting drug law enforcement on those drugs, routes, and organizations with the strongest known or potential links to terror. However, doing so would require new analytic capacities and decision-making strategies for all the agencies involved in drug law enforcement and there is no assurance that the policies that best implement the mission of protecting Americans from drug abuse will also perform best in protecting the country from terrorism. Indeed, the interests of ideology-driven terrorists and money-driven drug traders can sometimes diverge, as when increased resources deployed against terrorists adversely affect the activities of drug traders with no ties to terrorists. Any terrorist threats exacerbated by the illicit drug markets might be reduced by shrinking the markets themselves, both in physical volume and financial revenue. It is not clear that increased drug law enforcement alone can succeed in that respect; the cocaine and heroin markets have proven stubbornly resistant to vigorous enforcement efforts. Reducing demand for illicit drugs can also shrink the markets. The total number of users is much less important in determining drug volumes and revenues than the behavior of a relatively small number of chronic, high-dose drug-takers. Most of that “hard core” group consists of people who are repeatedly arrested, not only for drug offenses but for a wide range of property, violent, and public-order offenses. Acting to reduce the population of hard-core user-offenders, through treatment, drug courts, or testing-and-sanctions programs, may offer a better prospect for reducing the size of the drug markets, and thus potentially the contribution of drug trafficking to the terrorist threat.
Some terrorist organizations, and the governments that harbor and support them, also engage in drug dealing, or otherwise profit from the traffic in illicit drugs. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has created a series of controversial print and television advertisements that attempt to use the links between drugs and terrorism to dissuade current and potential drug users. An exhibit at the new Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Museum makes the same point. This report discusses the relationships between drug trafficking and terrorism and analyzes some of the policy implications of those relationships for anti-drug policy. The links between the two sets of phenomena are important considerations in formulating a drug control policy that also contributes to the campaign against terror. Drug supply and demand reduction might contribute to homeland security by reducing the availability of funds and other forms of support to terrorist organizations. Integrating the two sets of concerns, if that is to be done, may require Re-examine relevant aspects of existing domestic and foreign policy strategies. This report addresses issues relating to the formulation and execution of drug control policy in the context of its implications for terrorism.
Links Between Drug Trafficking and Terrorism
Drug trafficking in source countries, transit countries, and consumer countries, including the United States, could contribute to the problems of terror in at least five distinct ways: •
Supplying cash for terrorist operationsCreating chaos in countries where drugs are produced, through which they •
pass, or in which they are sold at retail and...
References: • U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), Heroin Distribution in Three Cities, Document 2001-R0370-001, Nov. 2000, available at [http://www.usdoj.gov/ndic/pubs/648/la_econ.htm].
• 9Chris Baker, “Putting a Price Tag on Terror,” Washington Times, Nov. 18, 2001,
• A1($500,000 estimate), “Hard Evidence Would Help,” Economist, Sept
o Dale Fuchs, “Spain Says Bombers Drank Water from Mecca and Sold Drugs,” New York Times, Apr. 15, 2004, p. A3.
• P. Shenen and D. Van Natta, “A Nation Challenged: The Investigation; U.S. Says 3 Detainees May Be Tied to Highjackings,” New York Times, Nov. 1, 2001, p. A1.
• Douglas Frantz, “U.S.-Based Charity is Under Scrutiny,” New York Times, June 14, 2002, p. A1.
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