The Terror Finance Blog: Narco-Terrorism Can Be Defeated

Narco-Terrorists and the international criminal organizations that thrive on the illegal drug trade now threaten the national security of many nations. The nexus between transnational criminal organizations and terrorist groups does not end with illegal drug trafficking. Their partnerships are complex, linking illegal drugs, money, geography and politics. Yet, U.S. and international law-enforcement agencies overlook the connections between them, thereby unwittingly abetting the escalation in terrorism.

Terrorists’ and criminals’ mutually beneficial activities include: illegal arms trafficking, extortion and protection rackets; kidnapping; prostitution rings and human trafficking; credit card, social security and immigration fraud and identity theft; tax fraud; counterfeiting currencies, pharmaceuticals, cigarettes, alcohol, etc.; pirating videos, compact discs, tapes, and software; and illegal oil trade. The hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues fill the war chests of terrorists and criminals alike. Some of that money is used to undermine the political systems where these groups operate or target.

The March 2009 U.S. Department of State’s International Narcotics Control Strategy Report documents “a direct connection between traditional Colombian drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and Middle Eastern money launderers tied to Hezbollah.”